How to Prevent Trail Closures|
Thursday, April 01, 1999
Prevention is Best
Diffuse the build-up of pressures over potential closures before the crisis stage is reached. Face the issue squarely and plan appropriate early response.
- Start weekend patrols to warn irresponsible riders that they are hurting everyone.
- Start a safe and responsible mountain bike riding program (with shops, clubs, or schools).
- Have local bicycle dealers distribute IMBA's "Rules of the Trail" and explain to their customers why trail etiquette matters.
- Get involved with land and trail management.
- Develop a long-term reputation for caring about the environment.
- Foster the idea that dirt trails are not necessarily a public right of way for bikes; riding on dirt is a privilege.
- Learn who controls the dirt access where you ride, and volunteer with groups to do trail maintenance.
Respect Other Trail Users
- Show a maximum of trail courtesy and respect to all trail users. We're all members of the trail family enjoying the quiet and natural beauty of the backcountry. We must learn to share.
- Take the time to set a good example. Stop, dismount, and talk with other trail users. Our motivations are no different than those of other users regardless of mode of travel.
- Show concern for a clean, quiet backcountry experience. Keep trails as natural as possible.
- Show that you understand other trail user's fears, needs, and desires.
- Get a group together to further your interests and establish regular meeting times and places.
- Develop a consensus on appropriate places to ride and what is best for all concerned.
- Communicate your concerns to other user groups and land managers. Learn about and use the political process.
- Develop appropriate education/training programs to increase public awareness and support.
- Adopt a trail and do other volunteer work.
- Support IMBA and other conservation organizations. Find out what is working in other areas to provide or continue land access.
- Don't become discouraged or bitter; democracy is sometimes slow, but persistence and a cooperative attitude will eventually pay off.
- Develop ways to share and maintain scarce resources. Show you care by actions as well as words.
In Case of Imminent Crisis
- Identify decision makers who will decide the outcome of the issue. Find out where and when public hearings will be. Develop a plan and work with it. Take action!!
- Establish criteria for decisions:
- If public safety is the problem, push for educational barricades and safety patrols.
- If user input is wanted, do an analysis of trail users.
- If affected voters must be mobilized, circulate a petition and begin a letter-writing campaign.
- If there is a broad base of trail users, form a coalition with other user-groups to help in trail maintenance. Volunteer together for projects.
- Ask decision makers if you and others can present oral and written testimony. If necessary, ask for a delay in hearings to gain time to take the actions above.
- Mobilize your groups or organization. Hold meetings, attend hearings, provide information, etc.
- Get those with an economic interest to back you: bike shops, resorts, tourist groups, newspapers, local businesses, etc. Let IMBA and other groups know what is happening.
- Show respect and develop a responsible reputation. Learn from the process so that if you don't get what you want the first time, you will be better prepared in the future.