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  1. #1
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    Hiker to mtb soil impact studies

    Our local park district acquired 160 acres and I’m trying to petition for mountain bike access before they declare it prairie restoration or something like that where bikes are not allowed.
    I need to send them some studies that show mountain bike impacts comparable to human.
    Does anyone have anything that highlights or breaks down some of the major studies?



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  2. #2
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    This is/was what IMBA is good at. I can't tell what's quite on the new website, maybe the archive.org version of https://www.imba.com/resources/resea...best-practices still works, or email them?

    Dig around this forum for other good ideas...

    A key thing is water, not users, is almost always the largest impact and thus design matters; the actual construction itself (e.g. the mere presence of the trail) has large impact.

    Do you know what the land manager thinks about habitat vs recreation and bikes vs hikes, etc? Do you have a a local advocacy group/club/chapter? Those are often more important than science.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the response and I will definitely dig around IMBA. Regarding how they feel about bikers versus habitat I would say they’re going to lean towards not allowing Bikes since that’s the way they’ve gone in the past., but I still have to try. We currently have about 2200 acres of preserves in our county 500 of which are equestrian, and 0 acres have access for Bikes. That said, they didn’t say no, and offered to look at some studies if I could send them over.


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  4. #4
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    These studies were on the old IMBA web site. They may help you. I can't find them on the revised web site. There are probably some newer studies on the www somewhere.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/5zg13qcfz8...study.pdf?dl=0

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/bniytd5g48...iking.pdf?dl=0

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/he0d7n4i8w...iking.pdf?dl=0

  5. #5
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    Okay thanks, I couldn’t find anything on the new site other than ebike studies


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  6. #6
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    The IMBA Canada site has links to some studies:

    Trail Science | International Mountain Bike Association Canada
    Mountain bikers are generally a rational bunch...until someone moves a rock on our favorite trail and we lose our minds - LMN

  7. #7
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    This query also returns some good results:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=usfs...vs+bike+impact

    A particularly interesting comment (somewhere in one of the results I skimmed today) is about how grasslands are typically the most resilient to any sort of 'damage'.

    Why would they think bicycles hurt prairie in any way, given there are trails at all?

    BTW a good book which I found out about from this forum is _Natural Surface Trails by Design_ by Troy Scott Parker Natural Surface Trails by Design . It doesn't quite answer your question, but addresses parts of it, and also provides some language about experience.

  8. #8
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    Ok guys thank you for the help looks like I have some reading to do. I just don't want these people's eyes to glaze over so I have to be picky on what I send them.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bandy Mclovin View Post
    lol, I can't remove the eyes from the back of my head. They are in a constant state of "roll" wondering how we are going to manage trading logic for scientific study. If you can't produce a study, I guess they are not apt to think for themselves?
    It's not that I can't produce a study- I just know if I send 4 very involved studies they will just toss them aside completely, so I think I need to start with a short "engager" type. I also feel much of this is following the money trail. I am trying to research IL grants for prairie and grassland restoration.

    This is may last correspondence with the Forest preserve manager " It definitely has a lot of slope and relief for this part of Illinois but we haven’t set up any plan as of yet for when it will have trails for use. That all depends on what land use plan Russell has and what plants come up and how much we intend to put back into crops for a few years to try and get rid of as many invasive species as possible before planting back to native species. I will keep you informed as best as possible and please feel free to contact me whenever a question arises."

    So I think they're on the hunt for an endangered plant or something to acquire grant money, and lord knows if that happens sure as sh!t bikes are banned for life.

  10. #10
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    I sent this today-

    March 20, 2018
    To Ogle County cyclists,
    I am writing this letter to Ogle County cyclists in regards to the newly acquired 160 acre Bald Hill Preserve on North Silver Creek Rd. in Mount Morris, IL. As you may, or may not know, Byron Forest Preserve District (BFPD) owns and operates over 2200 acres of land, 525 acres of those are equestrian, and the remaining acreage is hiker and dog walking. Zero acreage is available to cyclists who in turn are forced onto roadways.
    I have already spoken with Todd Tucker at BFPD regarding bike access in the Bald Hill preserve and he has agreed to look at some studies relating to the impact of mountain bikes in nature compared to other forms of travel on trails. There are no promises of any kind, but he didn’t say no.
    I would not be advocating for high cost project like Atwood. I simply want to get our “foot in the door” and gain “reasonable” access. Through some education, and community (cyclist) interest, I believe we can change the longstanding Midwestern school of thought that bikes belong on roads. I understand this will be an uphill battle. The BFPD may be looking for rare plants or endangered species to gain possible grants from the state. If the land gets designated Prairie Restoration like The Jarrett Prairie Center there will be absolutely no bike access. Please don’t interpret these words as pessimism or a lack of respect for conservation and habitat. I support these agendas 100%, but I have two concerns. The first being the continued misinformation that bikes are somehow more impactful to habitat than hikers. My second concern would be losing this beautiful sect of land because of some archaic land designation that forbids bikes for no other reason than a lack of knowledge and understanding. Study after study shows the impacts of bikes in nature are similar to those travelled on foot, and much less than equestrian. We are a tax paying user group and consistently ostracizing cyclists only creates animosity. I would much rather work together with our community than against it.
    At this point I am looking for opinions, advice, and support from any local cyclists interested. Like most of you I am a hiker, outdoor enthusiast, and a mountain biker. As hikers we have a plethora of choices to choose from to enjoy nature, but as mountain bikers we are banned from enjoying our surroundings while doing the sport we love and enjoy.
    I will be forwarding this letter and the following link to Todd Tucker at the BFPD. The article is written by Gary Sprung and does a good job of linking and summarizing most of the major environmental studies of bikes in nature-
    Natural resource impacts of mountain biking, summary of scientific studies compare bicycle to other forms of trail travel recreation path system, linear National state park, develop process public input, adjacent landowner, state federal agency partn
    Kind regards,
    Chris Wiehle
    Stillman Valley, IL
    https://dirtproject.org

  11. #11
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    In our local case, soil and habitat disruption were the biggest issues, followed distantly by user interaction (once it was determined that horses would stay separated from everyone else). Once we had a project that worked, it was used as a model for other projects. So if you can find examples in your locale, cite them as success stories. Obviously, there are places where trails just don't work out.

    Here is a blurb from our local park:

    Trails United News from Cleveland Metroparks

    You can search other volumes of this newsletter for more info.

    -F
    It's never easier - you just go faster.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by injected59 View Post
    . Through some education, and community (cyclist) interest, I believe we can change the longstanding Midwestern school of thought that bikes belong on roads.
    https://dirtproject.org
    This definitely is not the case in many places in the Midwest. Mountain bike trail building has been building and exploding for the past twenty years and it continues to grow.

    MN, WI, and MI are great examples and I know other states in the Midwest are developing new trails.

    Maybe some of these Midwest land managers with mountain bike trails could help sell the great idea of Midwest mountain bike trails to the land manager you are working with. Maybe hearing about the successes in other Midwestern states will help convince your land manager that mountain bike trails are great for Midwestern parks.

    Good luck. You guys deserve a local trail system.


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  13. #13
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    My observation over the last 30 years is that hikers and runners cause more damage to certain types of trails due to surface scuffing. This can result in 1/2" of loose dusty sand over the whole trail during 25K a foot race. The bikes don't do this except in a few braking turns. If the foot race takes places well before the rains come it's a long dusty summer for the bikes. Hikers also will posthole down a soaked trail like they are a hero.
    I ride with the best dogs.




  14. #14
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    Land managers use many reasons to justify their decision to ban an entire trail user group. Sometimes they don't bother to explain because they don't feel the need to.

    Everyone (okay, the majority of people) can be considered a hiker. Studies show that hikers go off trail far more than equestrians and way far more than bike riders. Studies have been conducted that compared degradation to trail tread by equestrians, pedestrians and bicyclists over a period of time on separate trails. Based upon the period of time and the number of users it concluded that equestrians have a higher impact than the other two groups, surprise surprise. Study also revealed that mountain biking impacted the trail while ascending more than descending. The worst damage was caused by hikers. I'm sorry. The hiking trails in the study recorded the greatest damage. How? 5 horses and 10 bikes aint nuthin when you have 100's of people, each (okay, the majority) wearing two shoes/boots, hiking day after day after day.

    Based on your letter, I take it there is no formal biking group in your area. Do the local hikers hate the bikers? Do the hikers support shared use trails? Do you know the answer as fact or assumption? What about the equestrian community? Is everyone happy that they don't have to deal with you and your unorganized friends?

    If you lack organization then it makes it too easy for land managers to care. You can go the "science route" and for every study you produce in favor of your argument your opposition can throw down seven against your argument. Building a coalition is always the best way but sometimes that is not possible.

    Here's a question: How long has the land manager been in her/his position that has the authority to make the decision as to who can and who cannot enjoy public land? Next question: How long until this land manager is eligible for retirement?

    Whenever one approaches a land manager and asks for anything you have to remember you are asking them to do more work than they already are doing. You want what? You say you want to ride your bike on the trails he/she is responsible for managing. They hear, "I want you to work more, work harder." But wait, there's more. The hikers call, email, show up and yell at the land manager and tell him/her "don't even think about it." So they don't. They just tell you, "NO."

    You can dump a bunch of facts and have a legit argument about fairness but no one (okay, the majority) is going to say, "You know what, I think it's a great idea to add another trail user group that will negatively impact the trails I'm responsible to maintain and manage, because you say you will damage them maybe as much, but not more, than the authorized user group."

    As far as fairness, there is no fairness.

    I commend you for stepping up and trying to do the "right thing". If you are experiencing denial of access due to whatever, you can fight it with facts and science, build a coalition or offer the land manager help. If you are going to make him/her work harder and longer for no extra money, you may want to think about how to reduce that load. Everyone wants this wants that. Don't get me started on my attitude towards those that feel entitled.

    If you treat everyone with respect and they treat you with respect and there is a legitimate argument against your request, honor it. There are areas where human impact is not appropriate. If you are dealing with people that don't care about facts, that don't care about the effects of their decisions. that don't return the respect shown upon them, you may have to take to steps back and reevaluate your situation. I hope riders in your county are aware that you have got the ball rolling and they need to step the ---- up because without people like you a lot of people will continue to get away with behavior that is not in line with the job they have been hired to do. Cheers.
    The suspension of your bike sucks if it's different than mine. Really. It sucks. Big time.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boulder Pilot View Post
    Land managers use many reasons to justify their decision to ban an entire trail user group. Sometimes they don't bother to explain because they don't feel the need to.

    Everyone (okay, the majority of people) can be considered a hiker. Studies show that hikers go off trail far more than equestrians and way far more than bike riders. Studies have been conducted that compared degradation to trail tread by equestrians, pedestrians and bicyclists over a period of time on separate trails. Based upon the period of time and the number of users it concluded that equestrians have a higher impact than the other two groups, surprise surprise. Study also revealed that mountain biking impacted the trail while ascending more than descending. The worst damage was caused by hikers. I'm sorry. The hiking trails in the study recorded the greatest damage. How? 5 horses and 10 bikes aint nuthin when you have 100's of people, each (okay, the majority) wearing two shoes/boots, hiking day after day after day.

    Based on your letter, I take it there is no formal biking group in your area. Do the local hikers hate the bikers? Do the hikers support shared use trails? Do you know the answer as fact or assumption? What about the equestrian community? Is everyone happy that they don't have to deal with you and your unorganized friends?

    If you lack organization then it makes it too easy for land managers to care. You can go the "science route" and for every study you produce in favor of your argument your opposition can throw down seven against your argument. Building a coalition is always the best way but sometimes that is not possible.

    Here's a question: How long has the land manager been in her/his position that has the authority to make the decision as to who can and who cannot enjoy public land? Next question: How long until this land manager is eligible for retirement?

    Whenever one approaches a land manager and asks for anything you have to remember you are asking them to do more work than they already are doing. You want what? You say you want to ride your bike on the trails he/she is responsible for managing. They hear, "I want you to work more, work harder." But wait, there's more. The hikers call, email, show up and yell at the land manager and tell him/her "don't even think about it." So they don't. They just tell you, "NO."

    You can dump a bunch of facts and have a legit argument about fairness but no one (okay, the majority) is going to say, "You know what, I think it's a great idea to add another trail user group that will negatively impact the trails I'm responsible to maintain and manage, because you say you will damage them maybe as much, but not more, than the authorized user group."

    As far as fairness, there is no fairness.

    I commend you for stepping up and trying to do the "right thing". If you are experiencing denial of access due to whatever, you can fight it with facts and science, build a coalition or offer the land manager help. If you are going to make him/her work harder and longer for no extra money, you may want to think about how to reduce that load. Everyone wants this wants that. Don't get me started on my attitude towards those that feel entitled.

    If you treat everyone with respect and they treat you with respect and there is a legitimate argument against your request, honor it. There are areas where human impact is not appropriate. If you are dealing with people that don't care about facts, that don't care about the effects of their decisions. that don't return the respect shown upon them, you may have to take to steps back and reevaluate your situation. I hope riders in your county are aware that you have got the ball rolling and they need to step the ---- up because without people like you a lot of people will continue to get away with behavior that is not in line with the job they have been hired to do. Cheers.
    Hey thanks for the responses everyone. I heard back from the land manager and they are going to spend the next 4-5 years ridding the land of invasive plants and planting crops of species native to our area. So, big fat no on bike access. I did receive a couple texts and emails from fellow bikers which was nice. For now I guess I will just keep on trying to raise awareness and corral local bikers into some sort of organized group. Again, thank you for everyone’s input, I did read all of the posts even if I didn’t directly respond.


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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    Hikers also will posthole down a soaked trail like they are a hero.
    I respect a middle of the trail post holing hiker 1000 times more than a clueless MTB'r that rides around the mud and widens the trail.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by HacksawReynolds View Post
    I respect a middle of the trail post holing hiker 1000 times more than a clueless MTB'r that rides around the mud and widens the trail.
    Not much use for either around here, actually. The post holes last the whole season. Bike ruts too, but the bikers are easier to educate. We encourage detouring around soaked areas, and repairing inadvertent ruts. Horses for courses...
    I ride with the best dogs.




  18. #18
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    Where did the money come from for the acquisition?

    Asking because I've seen land manager plans completely upended where an electorate felt misled about plans and expectations during a vote for funding.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by HacksawReynolds View Post
    I respect a middle of the trail post holing hiker 1000 times more than a clueless MTB'r that rides around the mud and widens the trail.
    Or the clueless MTB'rs that ride thru the mud leaving big ruts in the trail when it drys up.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loren_ View Post
    Where did the money come from for the acquisition?

    Asking because I've seen land manager plans completely upended where an electorate felt misled about plans and expectations during a vote for funding.
    It was kind of a weird deal. From what I understand, the price was discounted, then 2/3rds of the money came from our local nuke plant (exelon)
    https://rochellenews-leader.com/arti...ires-160-acres


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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    We encourage detouring around soaked areas, and repairing inadvertent ruts. Horses for courses...
    Detouring around=trail braiding, yes? Why not just bury the soaked areas altogether and create a new trail in to replace them? Quicker/easier than "fixing" oftentimes.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by tom erb View Post
    Or the clueless MTB'rs that ride thru the mud leaving big ruts in the trail when it drys up.
    At least they are staying on the trail. Plus it's the fault of the trail builder/design of the trail that caused the mud/wet area in the first place.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by HacksawReynolds View Post
    Detouring around=trail braiding, yes? Why not just bury the soaked areas altogether and create a new trail in to replace them? Quicker/easier than "fixing" oftentimes.
    No braiding, no fixing required. Works well for us in our particular situation and is the result of trying a lot of things that didn't work and resulted in spending too much time repairing treads. We have durable soils that get soaked for a few weeks during Spring runoff. I been working with these trails for 30 years.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsieb View Post
    No braiding, no fixing required. Works well for us in our particular situation and is the result of trying a lot of things that didn't work and resulted in spending too much time repairing treads. We have durable soils that get soaked for a few weeks during Spring runoff. I been working with these trails for 30 years.
    Right on, thank you for explaining.

  25. #25
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    Trails should be out sloped to shed water. If a trail must pass through a wetland it should be elevated, as is the case with a turnpike.

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    IMO trails shouldn't pass thru a wetland in general. Some areas just weren't meant to have trails and humans passing thru them.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by injected59 View Post
    Hey thanks for the responses everyone. I heard back from the land manager and they are going to spend the next 4-5 years ridding the land of invasive plants and planting crops of species native to our area. So, big fat no on bike access. I did receive a couple texts and emails from fellow bikers which was nice. For now I guess I will just keep on trying to raise awareness and corral local bikers into some sort of organized group. Again, thank you for everyone’s input, I did read all of the posts even if I didn’t directly respond.


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    A question:
    * Are these trails going to be open to hikers? Horses?
    * What was the status before? Closed to everyone, open, grey area?

    And a suggestion:
    * Make friends with the land manager. Get them on rides. Or their friends on rides. Or just otherwise get to know them if you can. And as noted above, make alliances with other people in your community.

    Sounds like 'was closed to everyone; will remain closed'. That's reasonably fair, but 'was closed; now open to hikers' is not. But as noted above, hard to manage... Or easy? Just allow everyone?

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