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...