Sunday’s Guest Opinion by Jason Vogel and Ryan Schutz, representing the Boulder MountainBike Alliance (BMA) and the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) respectively, is a soothing piece that hopes to allay the “fear and anxiety” of trail users in Boulder who do “not really know what would happen once mountain bikers were given access” to trails.
But that’s not the case in Boulder. As BMA’s web site points out, 34% of OSMP trails is already open to mountain bikers. Mountain bikers are hardly the “neglected class of trail users” the writers claim.
Are we to believe “courteous, careful and in control” bikers who only want to “revel in the sense of awe that comes from experiencing so much of this vast, beautiful place in only an afternoon (emphasis added)” can do so at a pace consistent with walkers, hikers and runners? Hardly. We already know how poorly mountain bikers integrate with other users.
According to the authors, “bringing mountain bikers into the fold of public lands stewardship is the best way to eliminate anxiety and fear.” Yet elsewhere they write BMA and OSMP “have worked together successfully for years.” If they’re already “in the fold” why are the rest of us users still so justifiably concerned?
What if OSMP cedes 10% (BMA’s figure) of the West Trails Study Area (WTSA) to mountain bikers? I suspect we’ll see the same Guest Opinion in a few years’ time with one change; instead of pleading for “a single north-south connector trail” we will read how wonderful a “second” or a “third” connector trail would be. (If you doubt the aggressive ambitions of BMA, see their web site.)
Preserving the gorgeous WTSA for human-paced, unmechanized travel was the wise thing to do when the current restrictions were enacted years ago. It still is.