IMBA World Summit 2010 Resources presentation, “Dealing With Unauthorized Trails”. The problem defined is that mountain bikers are building and riding unauthorized trails and that this is an increasing trend affecting thousands of miles of non-system trails with varying degrees of impact.

IMBA World Summit 2010 Resources – Dealing With Unauthorized Trails

Below is a summary of the IMBA presentation:

The Problem:

  • Mountain bikers are building and riding unauthorized trails
  • This is an increasing trend
  • Thousands of miles of non-system trails
  • Varying degrees of impact

Why is this a problem?:

  • It can damage natural resources
  • It can damage cultural and historical resources
  • It violates trust between mountain bikers and land managers
  • It threatens current and future trail access
  • It portrays mountain bikers as being lawless, arrogant, disrespectful, selfish,  irresponsible, and ignorant
  • It alienates other members of the trail community
  • It can create a safety hazard to other cyclists
  • It’s against the law

Causes of problem:

  • Growing demand for more trails, and more diverse trail experiences
  • Increased skill levels and new technologies driving desire for technical trails
  • Mountain bikers are in a non‐conformist subculture
  • Lack of connection to trail community
  • There is a disrespect for government oversight
  • Perception of entitlement to public lands
  • Lack of legal awareness
  • Perception unauthorized trails will become system trails
  • Ignorance of environmental impact
  • Perception won’t be caught
  • Passive acceptance in bike community
  • Industry sometimes subtly condones
  • The public process for new trails is slow, cumbersome and costly
  • Land managers are understaffed and stressed out

Strategies to deal with problem:

  • Change mountain biking subculture
    • Educate mountain bikers
      • Environmental ethic
      • Stewardship of the land
      • Sustainable trail design
      • Legalities of trail building
      • Environmental impact
      • Bike patrols
    • Improve advocacy skills
      • Get organized to advocate for the trails you want
        • Form an effective advocacy group
      • Participate in the larger trail community
        • Become involved in issues beyond your own
        • Become knowledgeable about trail planning, environmental issues, agency structure and needs, other user groups, etc.
      • Work with industry players
        • Get them to support your efforts
        • Help them project a good image of our sport
  • Change agency subculture
    • Land managers need to:
      • Increase efficiency and effectiveness of the process of bringing new trails on line
      • Create diverse and technical trail experiences
      • Partner with mountain biking community to build trails
      • Converting existing unauthorized trails into system trails where appropriate
      • Establish fair and logical mountain biking policies
      • Enforce their own rules
Category: Trails