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ARPN Journal of Science and Technology >> Volume 7, Issue 2, November 2017

ARPN Journal of Science and Technology

The Impacts of Mountain Biking on Wildlife and People A Review of the Literature

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Author Michael J. Vandeman
ISSN 2225-7217
On Pages 418-426
Volume No. 4
Issue No. 7
Issue Date August 01, 2014
Publishing Date August 01, 2014
Keywords Mountain Biking, Wildlife, IMBA, eco-systems


"Every recreationist -- whether hiker, biker, horse packer, or poesy sniffer -- should not begin by asking, 'What's best for ME?' but rather 'What's best for the bears?'" Tom Butler. "Will we keep some parts of the American landscape natural and wild and free -- or must every acre be easily accessible to people and their toys? Mountain bikes' impacts on the land are large and getting worse. The aggressive push of mountain bike organizations to build ever-growing webs of trails poses serious problems of habitat fragmentation, increased erosion, and wildlife conflicts. As interest in extreme riding continues to grow, as trail networks burgeon, and as new technology makes it possible for ever-more mountain bicyclists to participate, even the most remote wild landscapes may become trammeled -- and trampled -- by knobby tires. The destruction of wilderness and the fragmentation of habitats and ecosystems is death by a thousand cuts. Will introduction of mountain bikes -- and their penetration farther into wilderness -- promote additional fragmentation and human conflicts with the natural world? Yes." Brian O'Donnell and Michael Carroll". Some things are obvious: mountain bikes do more damage to the land than hikers. To think otherwise ignores the story told by the ground. Although I have never ridden a mountain bike, I am very familiar with their impacts. For the last seven years I have regularly run three to six miles several times a week on a network of trails in the Sandia Mountain foothills two blocks from my home. These trails receive use from walkers, runners, and mountain bikers; they are closed to motorized vehicles. Because I'm clumsy, I keep my eyes on the trail in front of me. I run or walk in all seasons, in all kinds of weather. I have watched the growing erosion on these trails from mountain bike use. The basic difference between feet and tires is that tire tracks are continuous and foot tracks are discontinuous. Water finds that narrow, continuous tire tracks are a rill in which to flow. Also, because many mountain bikers are after thrills and speed, their tires cut into the ground. Slamming on the brakes after zooming downhill, sliding around sharp corners, and digging in to go uphill: I see the results of this behavior weekly. I regularly see mountain bikers cutting off cross-country, even on steep slopes, for more of a challenge. They seem blind and deaf to the damage they cause. Admittedly, backpackers and horse packers can cause damage to wilderness trails. But this is a poor argument to suggest that we add another source of damage to those trails." Dave Foreman. "Studies show that bike impacts are similar to those of other non-motorized trail users." Jim Hasenauer (professor of rhetoric and member of the board of directors of the International Mountain Bicyclists Association)

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