The beautiful world we live in offers many rich, environmental experiences, and thousands of trails to venture. As these trails get explored day by day, they begin to deteriorate. It is important that we venture these trails wisely, to insure their longevity. I am investigating erosion in the environment regarding trail users. I am also going to examine the effects trail users have on the ecosystem. I am going to mainly focus on the effects of mountain biking on the environment. Are bicyclists solely responsible for the erosion of trails? Is it possible for bicyclist to prevent erosion?
There are various factors that contribute to the erosion of trails. The Boulder Mountain Biker Alliance claims trails that are poorly constructed are one of the main contributions of erosion throughout trails. These insufficiently designed trails to not adequately handle runoff from precipitation. Water runoff does a great amount more damage than any trail user group. Mountain bicyclists do not terminate vegetation alone. According to Foothill.net, trails that are weakly designed dissipate much faster. On poorly designed trails, trail users loosen the soil immensely solely by using the trail. Trail users who stride the same foliage produced equal harm to the vegetation.
Bicycle riders are the least likely to leave a trail than any user due to the fact that bicycles are very trail reliant. While hikers are at a much greater chance to step foot off the trail, which can harm vegetation and disturb wildlife. Individuals who hike are traveling at a much slower rate than cyclist. I believe that because hikers are traveling at a much slower rate, they have more time to appreciate the surrounding nature. Due to this, many individuals may feel invited to walk off trail and explore, and maybe even take photos. Considering cyclist have theirhands full literally, many often to not want to stop and potentially loose their rhythm to partake in such exterior activities on the trail.
There have been numerous studies conducted to demonstrate the various effects trail users have on the environment. In 2001 a study was conducted in Boyne Valley Provincial Park of Ontario, Canada. The study was conducted to display the various contributes cyclist, and hikers make towards erosion. According to imba.com the scientists measured “plant density, diversity (number of species present), and soil exposure (area of mineral soil exposed) before and after 500 one-way passes by bikers and hikers”. The results demonstrated that, “Bicycles were not significantly different for the three indicators measured.” It was concluded that that impacts from both hikers and bikers were spatially limited to the center of the trail.
There are various specific characteristics of mountain biking that I believe demonstrate that mountain biking produces less erosion than other trail users. Although, this goes the same for all trail users. According to americantrails.com, when cyclists travel, they exert a downward force through their tires onto the trail. “Mountain bikers will exert a downward force through their tires which comprises the wheel load divided by the contact area.” This is likely to create less of an impact than such heftier motorized vehicles, horse riders, and heavily loaded hikers.
All trail users leave their own mark on the environment. It all depends on the particular location, climate, landscape, and other ecological features. It is important to not forget that we all have an impact on the environment in our own way. It is often easy to criticize others, without realizing your own actions. If you love riding your local trail, make an effort to make them accessible. There are various thinks you can do, to help stop erosion. More individuals need to get involved in maintaining local bicycle trails. There are currently various mountain biking associations, and organizations that take pride in maintaining local trails.I myself plan to join the Marin County Mountain Bicycle Coalition someday in the future. Hopefully I will be able to take part in the construction of a new outdoor bicycle facility, which will be opening in my hometown Novato in the near future. It is common to find people riding trails, but never maintaining them. Most importantly, be part of the solution, not the problem.
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