Mountain Biking Trails Impact on the Enviroment...- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Mountain Biking Trails Impact on the Enviroment...

    I have a School Research Paper on Mountain Biking Trail Access and building, I have to find some really good research on the impact the trails have on the enviroment and how it compares to equestrians and hikers and what we can do to gain access to trails were we arent allowed and keep the access we have to the ones now..

    Any input would be great :-)

    -Jack
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  2. #2
    Papa T
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    Follow the link below. A new study was just concluded late last year.


    http://www.imba.com/news/news_releas...b_impacts.html

  3. #3
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    That's a pretty broad topic you've picked by bundling access issues with trail use, building, and impacts. I don't know how long your paper is supposed to be.

    Beyond looking at the studies cited by IMBA, you should look at their trail construction guide. You should also look for some other sources of info on trail construction and maintenance. There's probably some good technical stuff published by one or more of the big gov't agencies, such as the US Forest Service or National Parks Service, or maybe even your state parks agency. I'm guessing that you will be expected to have several sources cited for your paper.

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    This is the guy

    Dr. Marion is an outstanding guy. I met him last year at a Boy Scout event, and he presented on Leave No Trace initiatives. At the time we spoke about trail building and IMBA, and the study listed below. He forwarded the full report, and it helped with an access issue we had. He is pro IMBA build rules, and his paper proves it. It is a little long on the stats, if you don't know what ANOVA is. But I think he would be more then happy to reply to an email.

    http://www.imba.com/resources/scienc...ort_intro.html

    http://www.forestry.vt.edu/faculty/marion.html

    [email protected]

    Matt Myers

  5. #5
    local trails rider
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    Nothing scientific, just personal observation:
    - when on a trail that is frequented by cyclists and walkers, I do not see the difference between what was the impact of each, except for a very short period if the conditions are wet and soft.
    - when on a trail also used by horses, the horse tracks make it like a ploughed field (exaggeration, but not that much)

  6. #6
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    Has anyone else read that article about how Environmentalists and Outdoor-sy types end up impacting the Environment more than sedentary couch potato types? It was rather abstract but he brought into the discussion the possibility that by people camping/biking/hiking/etc. they are not only buying products that are harmful to the environment(synthetic materials/etc.) but they are (and I interpreted this as his main argument) also increasing their life expectancy by being in better shape/eating healthier(organic) and therefore having less of a chance to die early from heart attacks or health disorders. He also touched on how people who commute every day to work by riding a bike are also expected to live longer because of the benefits to their health thereby staying on the planet longer than someone who says rides to work, eats McDonalds for three meals a day, and than comes home and sits on their can, thereby they ("the bike riders and runners") live longer and consume more food and products.

    At the end of the article he says that he rides a bike to work everywhere and considers himself an environmentalist/outdoorsmen but that for the sake of the planet he hopes that people don't live healthy lifestyles and die sooner. He did try to quantify his arguments using life expectancies and population numbers but as soon as I see equations I do my best to ignore them.

    My thoughts on the article were that he had some interesting ideas but lacked reasonable solutions to the problems, such as population control through increased sex-ed, nutritional programs for youngsters and adults, removal of trans fat and other poisons that make there way into all types of everyday foods, and increasing constraints on manufactures of all products that either use or create hazardous by-products.

    I believe he was a Economics prof from UPenn but don't hold me to it. If i come across the article I'll post the link.

    For the sake of what I think the OP is looking for although I have no solid evidence for what I would like to believe about public access trails, I think the idea of having land set aside for the public to use is really a positive idea. To the extent that it is used for the public is another story. As much as conservatives would like to privatize land (so that it can be sold and used for casinos, race tracks, ordnance factories) I think that it's the wrong approach. Public lands with highways through them is another bad approach. I am a big believer of increasing public parks and trail systems but I genuinely think that the more space people have to explore and be outdoors the greater the overall effect that it would have on protecting that locale and community which has the potential to effect land on the state, country or world wide scale.

    Maybe an example would do best to describe what I mean. As an elementary kid I can remember a day when we went on a field trip to the stream and woods behind the school. My school was inbetween the city and suburbs so it had this kind of balance demographically. While we were just kinda poking around our science teacher was pointing out little creatures and what not. Some of the students who were presumably from the city were completely floored upon seeing their first frog and tadpole. Screamed and ran away but quickly came back to explore the slithering thing in the grass. Now who is not to say that from that moment on one or some of those students don't grow up with a burning desire to study the sciences or environmental economics or the whole slew of courses that pertain to the environment. I guess my point is public access to trail systems and the outdoors however small the land or long the trail will only create future environmentalists and that would be a good thing.

    The specific effects of trails on land well I probably wouldn't be a good person to ask since I want trails trails and more trails but completely preserved untouched land is pretty essential in my opinion as well. Sorry for the long response and lack of definitive anwsers!!!
    Don't hate on the minivan!!!!!!!

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    ????

    "..conservatives would like to privatize land (so that it can be sold and used for casinos, race tracks, ordnance factories).."

    and I guess all libs want everybody to stay out of the woods period, because any impact it too great.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by LititzDude
    "..conservatives would like to privatize land (so that it can be sold and used for casinos, race tracks, ordnance factories).."

    and I guess all libs want everybody to stay out of the woods period, because any impact it too great.
    Touche! extreme libs are lunatics and most importantly their greatest downfall is being unreasonable so i agree.
    Don't hate on the minivan!!!!!!!

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    Trail impact misc ramblings

    Every outdoor user group eventually butts heads with other user groups. They rationalize the reasons why they should be the only ones to care for the natural resources. Politics get dragged into the fight and whoever has the political power wins the fight.
    I have seen horses do more damage to a trail after a rain than a whole NORBA race weekend does to the same trail. I remember reading studies by the Sierra Club touting the damage MTB tires do to to "hiking" trails. I remember reading counter studies explaining the weight distribution of two tires on a trail does less damage than a vibram soled backpacker.
    Newbees are finding their way into the finite public lands at (in my opinion) at an alarming rate. Single-track that I rode eleven years ago in total isolation on my Merlin are now double-tracks bashed out by Quad-riders. I guess they have a right to pursue their version of happiness, but it ruins my ride. I'm willing to try any form of local politics to stop them just like the Sierra Club tried to stop mountain biking years ago.
    I try to follow IMBA rules, but fail when I encounter horseback riders. I don't get off my bike and walk past them especially when horseback riders discover trails put in by mountain bikers for mountain bike riding. I slow down and say hi, but unclipping and walking, NO WAY!
    If you want to keep mountain bike trails open, always be the happy embassator for the sport. That fat smoker in a bar...lend him your beater bike and baby him to a healthier way of life. Invite lawyers,doctors, bankers, local politicians, for a ride and treat them well. There is power in numbers. Say what you want, (good or bad) about President Bush, just remember, he loves to ride his mountain bike.

  10. #10
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    Seems that everything boils down to politics....

    "...about President Bush, just remember, he loves to ride his mountain bike."
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  11. #11
    BTJ
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    One issue that comes up in some articles focused on Mountain Bikers and Trail use, damage, maintenance and building is the attidude and perceptions fostered by participating in outdoor activities. Some extreme views tell riders to stay completely off the trails, they seek by-laws, private organizational control, or take matters into thier own hands to stop trail use 'booby-trapping" the trails.

    We the articles focused on is something that I have believed for years out of personal experience and working in the industry. Participation in outdoors activity like camping, hiking, biking, running, creates an inherent appreciation of the natural world and an attachment to the areas we participate. The belief that those areas must be managed properly, treated with care and protected from greater outside threats like development, air, ground and water popultion grows with participation rates in activities in natural settings.

    In my area the mtb'ers are the most active in repairing damaged trails from users or storms, ensuring good drainage, we have held fund raising races and advocate using them only when the the conditions will not be significantly damaged. Alot if this is fostered out of appreciation of the natural settings we ride in.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudd
    Seems that everything boils down to politics....

    "...about President Bush, just remember, he loves to ride his mountain bike."
    On his private ranch, with people he invites.
    We all get it in the end.

  13. #13
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    Mountain Biking Trails Impact on the Enviroment...

    I have a School Research Paper on Mountain Biking Trail Access and building, I have to find some really good research on the impact the trails have on the enviroment and how it compares to equestrians and hikers and what we can do to gain access to trails were we arent allowed and keep the access we have to the ones now..
    You asked about the impact the trails have on the environment. Do you mean how much impact the bike riders have?

    First the impact question and then the access question.

    You won't find these numbers in any research paper, they are somply my opinion after twenty years of riding and building trails.

    On a scale of 0-100, where 0 = no impact on the trail and 100 is the most impact possible, I would rate various users as follows;

    5 - Hikers
    10 - Bikers
    30 - Equestrians
    60 - Motorized users
    80 - Nature (wind, rain, snow, heat, etc.)

    Very subjective, I know. I think the research you find should support these numbers. Also, old trails are often simply game trails or poorly designed and built trails. They will be impacted much more by fewer users. Poorly designed and built trails can fall apart in a couple years, while a well designed trail with lots of good drainage structures can last a lifetime.

    During foul weather the numbers change a bit. All user groups will do much more damage to a soft wet trail but horses even more so. I've confronted equestrians during weather that made the trail wet enough so that a bike tire did not sink into the trail but the horses were post-holing the trail and causing thousands of dollars in needed repairs. The riders said there horses liked the softer ground and that they (the riders) were not bothered by the conditions because they were sitting up on the horse and were not getting muddy at all. When bikers and hikers have difficulty using a trail that is muddy because it is too much work to hike and nearly impossible to ride in such conditions. An equestrian can ignore the conditions and still go for a ride and stay clean atop their horse, while leaving massive trail damage in their wake.


    Regarding access, if we are not allowed in an area, it would be difficult to gain access. To keep the access we already have, it is important to volunteer to do trail maintenance, to make contacts with your local land managers and ask questions about any concerns they have. Some land managers worry about law suits involving collisions between bikers and other users. They may want to make trails one-way only or allow bikers on M-W-F only. Groups of riders need to offer to open up sight lines on damgerous sections of trail by brushing back the insides of high-speed turns, or maybe building chicanes to force riders to scrub off speed along busy sections of trail. Warning signs alone won't get the needed compliance. The more trails you have the more you can spread out users, but more trail maintenance is also required. Land managers have a limited budget and they have only small crews who have priorities such as removing winter blow-downs and replacing vandalized trail signs. You have to convince them that the local mountain biking community is willing to step up and maintain the trails and prevent them from being abandoned due to erosion. Some land managers overlook applying for grants to pay outside groups to build and maintain trails. Use this web site to contact others who have experience finding funding sources to pay for major trail work. And last, be willing to confront fellow riders who are harming our efforts by riding in wilderness or not yielding to other users, or leaving gel packets on the trails, or using multi-use trails as personal downhill race courses and using controlled skidding to scrub off speed while cornering and causing the need for massive repair work, and also reporting riders who are hauling tools and lumber into the woods and building ramps and "north shore" type elevated obstacles, without asking or telling their local land managers. The better we behave, the more respect and consideration we get when access is being discussed.

  14. #14
    Double-metric mtb man
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    I'd vary your scale a bit, Box Elder...more of a range as not everyone has he same impact.

    I'd put Hikers in the 5-15 range depending on the location and hikers, bikers 7.5-15, again depending. Equestrians 30-40, Motorized 55-75 and Nature 70-90.
    As if four times wasn't enough-> Psycho Mike's 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer Page

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  15. #15
    Log off and go ride!
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    I agree the scale is subjective. There has not been a lot of peer-reviewed research but the little that has been done shows no statistical difference between hiking and biking. In some wet soils hiking boots impacts MORE than bikes.

  16. #16
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    You're preaching to the converted In fact, I've made that point on usenet because, as an engineer, I can see the difference in impact vs. rolling loading, the areas involved etc.
    As if four times wasn't enough-> Psycho Mike's 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer Page

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    Quote Originally Posted by Psycho Mike
    You're preaching to the converted In fact, I've made that point on usenet because, as an engineer, I can see the difference in impact vs. rolling loading, the areas involved etc.

    I agree with you and Dave, mostly. What I have noticed in the last 5-7 years is the growth of free-riding and downhill riding, which has shifted the scale dramatically. I marvel at the skills these riders possess but I can't believe the damage they do to the trails in just a few runs down the mountain. We're talking about 45 pound bikes with over 3" tires, being ridden by fully armoured riders. They litterally carve their way downhill, especially through the turns. So much more washboarding than ever before and deeply rutted or bermed turns. Plus they can cause other users to judge the rest of us as having that same attitude of, hey everyone get out of my way, I'm coming through.

    Still, the horses are doing even more damage and they are never criticized by the land managers because the land managers are horsemen and these are there riding buds. If they'd just stay off the trails when they are wet, it wouldn't be so bad.

  18. #18
    Double-metric mtb man
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    I agree...

    Nice to see more ski areas going DH / DJ park in the summer...saves the wear and tear on the wild
    As if four times wasn't enough-> Psycho Mike's 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer Page

    Moran? Let your opinion be free -> F88me

  19. #19
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    Although getting back to an earlier point, you could argue that freeriders are better for the environment than XC mountain bikers, since they're getting less of a health benefit (since they're not pedalling up, usually), and the risky behavior and injuries lead to shorter life spans.

    And to go further, since researchers have shown that mountain biking can decrease fertility in males, wouldn't the lowered rate of reproduction and the commensurate population decline more than offset any negative effects of mountain bikes on natural trails?



    If only the parks services bought these arguments. They just don't seem as interested in big-picture environmental benefits!
    Former New Yorker, now in Fort Collins
    http://www.nycmtb.com

  20. #20
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    Nah, they'd turn it around and say the infertility thing was more a roadie issue and we're not getting it as bad.
    Last edited by Psycho Mike; 03-02-2007 at 10:46 AM.
    As if four times wasn't enough-> Psycho Mike's 2013 Ride to Conquer Cancer Page

    Moran? Let your opinion be free -> F88me

  21. #21
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    New IMBA Book Contains Science Review

    Hey All,

    The new IMBA book contains a lengthy chapter about mountain biking and the environment. Dr. Jeff Marion and Jeremy Wimpey of Virginia Tech contributed an extensive article that provides a science review and best practices. It is the most comprehensive mountain biking science review published to date.

    Learn about the book here:
    http://www.imba.com/news/news_releas...ging_mtbs.html

    Thanks, Pete

  22. #22
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    Dr. Marion

    Quote Originally Posted by imba_pete
    Hey All,

    The new IMBA book contains a lengthy chapter about mountain biking and the environment. Dr. Jeff Marion and Jeremy Wimpey of Virginia Tech contributed an extensive article that provides a science review and best practices. It is the most comprehensive mountain biking science review published to date.

    Learn about the book here:
    http://www.imba.com/news/news_releas...ging_mtbs.html

    Thanks, Pete

    See my post above

  23. #23

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    Thanks for the info

  24. #24
    Sheepherder/Cat Herder Moderator
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    To everyone, sorry about the bad post. I DID NOT mean to put the references that I did.

    And thanks Harry C. Remind me to drink my coffee first, read, then post.
    ...building wherever they'll let me...

  25. #25
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    Off-trail hiker impacts

    IMO, the numbers on hiker impact would be significantly higher if off-trail impacts are factored in. For example, hikers are notorious for cutting switchbacks but hiker off-trail impacts are much broader than that. Trails are designed to serve the dual purpose of both making it easier for humans to access the wilderness and to also limit human impacts to narrow corridors that avoid environmentally sensitive areas. It is a rare biker that takes off cross country but hikers do it all of the time. So while mtn bikers may have slightly higher impacts on the narrow 18"-24" wide tread of the actual trail, hikers have a much greater impact on the environment around the trails.

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