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  1. #1
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    MTB Trail closure!

    in Munich Germany starting in the middle of the city and running many kilometers along the river are tons of trails... with some pretty decent mountain bike single trails along the way... these are now my local trails that i ride during the week.

    so this winter the local authorities have closed off a bunch of trails and posted signs (no bikes) at the entrance to almost every singletrail. i met one of the officials while on the trail back in November and we talked for a while about the closure.

    in general in the most used areas of the park they are attempting to restrict bikes to paths 2 METERS and wider - that means at least 6 ft wide which obviously means NO SINGLETRACK! i think way outside the city some of the trails will still be open, but for me and many others it would riding some 10-20 kilometers one-way on boring paths (next to cool but closed singletracks) to get to the good riding.

    wildlife disruption is a non-issue here as the trails are in the middle of the city with houses, cars and hikers all over the place, so having mountain bikers makes no impact. if the trails were being completed closed to all users, then that would be one thing. but they are being closed ONLY to MTBers while hikers will have no restrictions.

    i think the source of the action is because last summer a group of MTBers built a bunch of "North Shore" style ramps and jumps and stuff out of wood and logs... actually i rode the stuff all summer and it was pretty cool. but anyway, it was unauthorized and illegal consturction in the protected park... ok, so i understand that and they have already destroyed all of the stuff. but why do they need to close most of the trails to MTBers?

    apparantly the stated reason for closure is NOT trail conflict with hikers, but supposed trail damage from mountain bikes...

    my MTB club (www.M97.de) for which i am also a bike guide has organized a meeting to discuss the trail closures and (hopefully) work out some kind of a compromise. this meeting will be next week when unfortunately i will be out of town (ski vacation in Chamonix)

    i know this issue has come up time and again other places - particularly in the US in the early 90s (i was in Houston at the time and they kept trying to close down Memorial Park trails to MTBing which is like the ONLY good trails within 60 miles or so of downtown) - and i know in the 90s hikers were always complaining of MTBers destroying trails and whatnot -- i am also a hiker, so conflict i understand, but the trail damage i do not buy. and MTBs were banned from almost all national parks and there was a trend to ban from other parks, but it is my impression that this has reversed in the last 5-8 years and has become much less of an issue --- since so many US trails ARE open, the few that are off limits to MTBs aren't so much of an issue...

    also when i was in Portland there was always a little controversy over which trails were and were not allowed for biking in the huge Forest Park. but the main issue here was that hikers were complaining of too many bikes going too fast, etc.

    so my question is: does anyone have any suggestions for dealing with this type of thing? i've seen a few research studies before showing that MTBers do approximately the same amount of damage as hikers. anyone have any really good and convincing data sources?

    also related: the adjacent province of Baden-Wuttenburg has a "2 meter rule" meaning that all trails less than 2 meters wide are banned for cycling UNLESS otherwise posted. some areas of Switerzerland have such rules too (i was on vacation and rented a bike from a shop and asked about trails and they said "well, officially jada, jada, jada, but you can go ride these cool singletrails" which i did. Italy and Austria are much more tourist oriented and so seem to be pretty accepting of mountain bikes...

    i think there are good and bad riding techniques and these should be taught:
    1) avoid rear tire lock up and skidding - tears up the trail
    2) don't ride around puddles, water barriers, trail construction or improvements
    3) don't create switchbacks or new trails
    4) don't ride in REALLY wet and muddy conditions

    if the authorities are really interested in trail protection, wouldn't their efforts be more productive trying to educate MTBers than just trying to keep them from riding? (fact is people will still ride the trails, although admittedly fewer) i have noticed that Euro rides are less protective of trails and are less likely to do on-the-spot trail maintenance (like clear a fallen tree). mostly this is b/c here the mentality is that the taxes pay for that and it is the government's job...
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Jim311's Avatar
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    I think trail damage from riders is alot less damaging than from hikers. Some of the most pristine trails I've ever ridden had probably never had a foot set on them for the most part. With hikers and walkers comes trash, erosion, and people leaving the trail. Mountain bikers tend to be much more environment concious because they realize that if they don't take care of their trails they may no longer exist! A single narrow path that is no more than a foot wide running through a pine forest is going to do little if anything to the environment. Foot traffic however brings lots of trash, and garbage too. I don't buy any of that crap. A 2 inch tire to me would have less impact than a foot will.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member bentbaggerlen's Avatar
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    nathank,
    Hope you dont't mind the cut and paste...

    "think the source of the action is because last summer a group of MTBers built a bunch of "North Shore" style ramps and jumps and stuff out of wood and logs... actually i rode the stuff all summer and it was pretty cool. but anyway, it was unauthorized and illegal consturction in the protected park... ok, so i understand that and they have already destroyed all of the stuff. but why do they need to close most of the trails to MTBers?"

    I own/control about 1000 ac. in New England. For the most part I have no proplems with people using the propety. But due to miss use by a few, I have had to post all of the propety as CLOSED.
    At one time there were miles of logging railroads, now years latter these became trails, used by ATVs, 4X4s, Motorcycles, mountain bikers, horse people and hikers. But then people started to leave things behind, or build things "north shore" ramps and bridges. One summer it cost me over $30,000 to clean up everything that had been left behind or built.
    Then some twit cut a trail across an earth dam. After the plants that hold the dam together are gone the dam will wash away. So the dam has to be repaired or removed. That cost over $100,000 to take down the dam.

    So if you find a good trail, take nothing, leave nothing, change nothing. And the trail should remain open. But as soon as people start changing things....
    Bentbaggerlen
    "When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking." - Arthur Conan Doyle

  4. #4
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Originally posted by nathank
    if the authorities are really interested in trail protection, wouldn't their efforts be more productive trying to educate MTBers than just trying to keep them from riding? (fact is people will still ride the trails, although admittedly fewer) i have noticed that Euro rides are less protective of trails and are less likely to do on-the-spot trail maintenance (like clear a fallen tree). mostly this is b/c here the mentality is that the taxes pay for that and it is the government's job...
    I 100% agree with you with one caveat. I think the mtbers should make an effort to work with the gov't to produce trails and produce good conduct on those trails. I personally think and believe three sets of people need to be involved in order for good success

    1 - riders - small group or club willing to work to keep trails clean and working. This may require donations etc...but in the end is really required for success.
    2 - landowners - hopefully they ride. If they don't be very honest about what could happen to the trail and the work that group will do to maintain the trails.
    3 - gov't - makes them feel useful from the start and then if enviro-geeks start freaking you have already achieved a little clout.

    With a good proposal and some degree of support and a willingness to work the trails will be there for a long time. With or without manmade stuff which BTW is actually a GREAT way to protect the environment and was in fact the original purpose of the shore. It just so happens that the protection offered by manmade riding also creates some of the sickest riding available.

    I am quite pleased that I live in an area where the gov't, riders and landowners as well as the environmentalists can generally work hand in hand. I just wish more areas could get to this type of harmony.

  5. #5
    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    It's really a pity what is happening in your area. I hope that the voices of your group will be heard and a mutually beneficial solution can be reached.
    It's definitely important that riders respect the trail. That point never seems to get through to people. I admit it is darn fun sometimes to plow and skid through the mud, but that has to be done only on trails where it is allowed, or we all face the consequences. Of course, littering, "owning a trail" (I mean using and developing it like it's your personal possession), and endangering others is never acceptable.
    Also, I live in Portland now. While you were here, did you hear about any specific groups pressing the city for the development of bike specific trails or the like in Forest Park? I know plenty of people (me too!) who would love that.
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  6. #6
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    thanks for the posts guys... i think we're all thinking along the same lines.

    i personally respect and care for trails (and have worked in volunteer trail maintenance in the past) and try to reduce my impact and inform/educate other riders as to how to care for the trail and ride responsibly.

    i think the harmony/cooperation between different groups is what is necessary... i hope we can accomplish that here in Munich.

    it would be a real shame to loose access to our great trails here. i'll try and keep you guys up on how things turn out... and of course any more info/suggestions would be appreciated.
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  7. #7
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    originally posted by iamlucky13
    Also, I live in Portland now. While you were here, did you hear about any specific groups pressing the city for the development of bike specific trails or the like in Forest Park? I know plenty of people (me too!) who would love that.
    off the top of my head... i would try Portland United Mountain Pedlers (PUMP). they sponsor rides but also do a lot of trail work and community stuff and have a good relationship with IMBA. They have built new trails (i rode one newly built in the Coastal Mountains out towards Tillamook) and IF there were new trail built i wuold think it likely that they might be involved.

    as far as i know from 3 years ago there were no real plans to change or open up any new trails in Forest Park. there was an official bike map that designtated some of the trails and then some city official (or volunteer?) made a detailed map of all the Forest Park trails and which were allowed for MTBing. Fat Tire Farm on NW26&Thurman had a good map (rough sketch on green paper) and that's also a good place to ask since they are really "connected" to the Park.

    i know there was some talk of banning MTBers from all the trails and fire roads and only allowing Leif Erickson and Springville, but as far as i know it never happened, although there are some strange rules - i think it's Firelane 3 that is allowed for uphill mountain bike traffic but not downhill although i could be mixing 3 & 5. i thin Firelane 1 was officially closed to MTBers but everyone thought it was allowed (no signs). The officials seemed to do a pretty decent job of finding which trails the hikers and runners didn't use much and letting MTBers use these. i belive Portland never bought the "trail destruction" myth of MTBers but limited MTBers b/c of the pretty vocal hiking and running groups that use the park heavily (runners and hikers in Portland are pretty well organized and thus have a strong voice which is in general good)--- and i don't have a problem with that as, say Wildwood trail, is full of runners and there's just no capacity for MTBers too... (i used to run/jog Wildwood frequently)

    my personal idea was to build a single-track trail adjacent to Wildwood specifically for MTBers (the whole 27-something miles would be SWEET!)... but i never "suggested" it to anyone but my friends.

    but between Firelanes 3, 5, 7, 1(?), 10, 10a and a short new trail (ok, new back in '99) that someone had built partly on private land - we called it the "lean-to trail" --- there is some decent stuff for being right in the city. when it was dry (mostly summer) we also used to ride Wildwood late at night (say after 10pm) with lights b/c there were few hikers/joggers so late and the few there would obviously see us coming with the lights (and we would be extra friendly and courteous). that's a REAL singletrack experience, but technically it's illegal.

    if you want to know any more current info, send me a PM and i can get you in touch with a few of my local MTB buds... unfortunately the guy who would know a ton has moved to China and the second is in Japan... but my friends Eric and Corey might know something.
    why drive when you can ride?
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  8. #8
    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    Thanks Nathank. I'll have to keep a heads up for the PUMP guys. I think Wildwood would be a pretty good one to ride, but I've never felt like getting in trouble. I tend not to ride as much in the evening because I don't have lights and I don't relish the ride home in the dark around all of these Oregon drivers. Sorry...had to say it.
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