Haven’t we already destroyed far too much habitat? That is exactly why we are in the midst of the Earth’s sixth extinction crisis! Mountain biking is environmentally, socially, and medically destructive!
Bicycles should not be allowed in any natural area. They are inanimate objects and have no rights. There is also no right to mountain bike. That was settled in federal court in 1996. It’s dishonest of mountain bikers to say that they don’t have access to trails closed to bikes. They have exactly the same access as everyone else — on foot! Why isn’t that good enough for mountain bikers? They are all capable of walking.
A favorite myth of mountain bikers is that mountain biking is no more harmful to wildlife, people, and the environment than hiking, and that science supports that view. Of course, it’s not true. To settle the matter once and for all, I read all of the research they cited, and wrote a review of the research on mountain biking impacts. I found that of the seven studies they cited, (1) all were written by mountain bikers, and (2) in every case, the authors misinterpreted their own data, in order to come to the conclusion that they favored.
Mountain bikers also love to build new trails — legally or illegally. Of course, trail-building destroys wildlife habitat — not just in the trail bed, but in a wide swath to both sides of the trail!
For example, grizzlies can hear a human from one mile away, and smell us from 5 miles away. Thus, a 10-mile trail represents 100 square miles of destroyed or degraded habitat, that animals are inhibited from using. Mountain biking, trail building, and trail maintenance all increase the number of people in the park, thereby preventing the animals full use of their habitat.
Mountain biking accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, kills small animals and plants on and next to the trail, drives wildlife and other trail users out of the area, and, worst of all, teaches kids that the rough treatment of nature is OK (it’s not!). What’s good about that?
The common thread among those who want more recreation in our parks is total ignorance about and disinterest in the wildlife whose homes these parks are. Yes, if humans are the only beings that matter, it is simply a conflict among humans (but even then, allowing bikes on trails harms the majority of park users — hikers and equestrians — who can no longer safely and peacefully enjoy their parks).
Mike Vandeman, Ph.D.
San Ramon, California