Saturday, 9 September 2017

The Dangerous MTB Politics of Appeasement

The Dangerous MTB Politics of Appeasement

Posted on September 12, 2014 at 1:45 PM
The insanity of appeasing wily mountain bikers never seems to end...<sigh>

Appeasement never works! It just opens a fine can of worms. Hikers, environmentalists, and others have already compromised away their ideals and rights to enjoyment of  our public forests --- and now, private property owners may end up compromising away their precious rights, in order to appease these scofflaw mountain bikers in our midst? This is downright scary!

The following article is a real cause for concern, and could set a dangerous precedent against inherent private property rights in the long term…

Mountain bike trail insurance issues linger
SORCA working with private land owners
Rebecca Aldous / Squamish Chief
September 10, 2014 

Removing liability issues from the backs of landowners’ with mountain bike trails running through their properties would help secure the future of biking in the community, the president of Squamish’s largest mountain biking group says.
In 2011, the District of Squamish unveiled its Trails Master Plan. One of its main recommendations was the creation of a land use agreement that could be implemented between the municipality and landowners with mountain bike trails on their land. The policy’s aim would be to alleviate liability issues for the property owners, taking the risk out of landowners’ hands, Squamish Off-Road Cycling Association (SORCA) president Jeff Cooke said.
“It has been something the district has been very slow to proceed with,” he said.
SORCA has focused on building relations with property owners. Currently, the association is in discussions with BC Timber Sale regarding a block near Half Nelson.
“I think the outcome will be something really good,” Cooke said. “I think we will end up with some new trails and better access.”
The Trails Master Plan (TMP) continues to support a variety of municipal initiatives underway, from ongoing improvements to the Corridor Trail to furthering the connectivity of neighbourhoods, Mayor Rob Kirkham stated in an email to The Squamish Chief.
As district staff explore the intricacies of insurance provider policies, legal ramifications and the positions of private landowners, it’s become increasingly apparent that there is no easy solution to the issue of safeguarding public access to recreational trails located on private property, Kirkham said. The municipality’s insurance provider — Municipal Insurance Association of British Columbia — will not indemnify third parties from liability.
There’s a delicate line to walk, Kirkham stated. While the district recognizes the value of Squamish’s trail network and improvements upon its infrastructure, it’s also imperative the community recognizes the rights of property owners to their land, he noted.
“At the heart of this discussion is how private landowners, user groups and the [district] can live in harmony to achieve the various objectives of each party. At the same, the Trails Master Plan alreadyrequires some updating based on today’s reality to ensure it is a future-looking document that takes into account Squamish’s rapid growth and growing stature as an outdoor adventure mecca,” Kirkham stated, noting the document will continue to be reviewed by council heading into 2015 strategic planning.

(Apologies to those who may find the above poster offensive.... but there is only so much mountain biker BS one can stomach...)

Methinks, just charging/fining/jailing? these rogue mountain bikers for trespassing on private property without permission would send a more “succinct message” to them, rather than rewarding them for their crime of trespassing on private property with this inane “insurance scheme”. There is no "harmony" in appeasing any off-road sports group that will not compromise any of their ill-got trails. (SORCA, NSMBA, etc.)

The whole gist of the problem with mountain biking is well summed up, here...

In a US-based mountain biker’s own words:

“I tend to get testy with mountain bikers who act entitled, who think they should be allowed to ride wherever they want, make wildcat trails, build structures without permission and ride trails closed to mountain bicycling. There's a reason for this, and if recent trends are any indication, we need more people to climb up anybody's six who thinks that kind of thing is OK…

... (And) the popularity of mountain biking itself, combined with technological advances to bikes (has created its own set of problems)

As mountain biking became more popular, it took over many trail systems, crowding out other users, especially equestrians who are uncomfortable with mountain bikes on the trail.

As more people came into the sport, trails became populated with more mountain bikers who had no clue as to what it took to gain trail access, and with selfish and rude riders who don't care about their effect on anybody else on the trail.

Even before rear suspension, disk brakes and ever lighter materials mountain bikers were considered the "cougars" of the non-motorized trail users, covering far more ground than equestrians and hikers. Today's bikes can cruise trails once thought impassable to anyone but hikers and equestrians.

Now, with so many mountain bikers on so many trails, and with an unfortunately high number of selfish and irresponsible riders, mountain biking has created a backlash, and the two factors are coming together to create a perfect storm of anti-mountain bike attitudes among land managers and the general public.

~ Mark, from a mountain biking: “Warrior’s Society News” email, October 2009

Rewarding this kind of ongoing bad behavior only hands more such entitlement to a wily off-road sports group that least deserves it…Appeasing scofflaw mountain bikers, whether on private or public land, doesn't work at all.

Appeasement never works. It will just continue to create more trouble than it is worth.

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