I had the good fortune to run in to Tasmanian Times Editor-at-Large James Dryburgh whilst on holiday in Ecuador recently as he and his fiancée Anna were running the hostel in which I spent a few weeks. We enjoyed some good chats on various subjects including existing and potential trails where mountain bikers, runners and hikers could share same without any problems.
I’m lucky in that I live in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, and can catch a bus and be in the North Shore forest in about 35 minutes, where I’ve enjoyed hiking for many years. About 15 years or so ago, an agreement was reached between the North Vancouver district and the mountain bikers association where trails would be cut in the forest and the bikers would construct trails to suit all.
Obviously there were lots of sceptics (including myself) as to whether this would work, but it worked out beyond most peoples´ expectations. The bikers built the trails themselves with volunteer labour and input from all. For example a board might be nailed on to a tree asking for rocks to be left at certain sites and before long there was a pile large enough for the builders to do something with. One of the problems for hikers and runners is that the low spots quickly get churned in to mud holes from the bikes so walkways were put either through, or at the side, using stumps or boulders to walk on. Mountain bikers seem to love getting covered in mud, us hikers Naa!
I’ve found the bikers to be polite, courteous and very considerate of other trail users, for example they will usually say how many are coming behind if you stand aside to let them go by. They really create a good vibe.
James made a good point to me that they, together with us hikers and the runners all share a common bond of loving nature and being in the forest.
So if these sort of trails are being considered in Tasmania, which I understand has lots of raw beauty similar to where I live, I would say go for it. People sharing a love of nature will find a way to work it out.
There can be a problem when bikers go on trails which haven’t been constructed for multi-use as they will make mudholes where one has to either walk through them or make a detour through the bush, but these are usually mountain biker wanabees who can’t handle the arduous proper trails. They are not too popular with all.
So multi-use trails can benefit all as without these trails being cut us hikers wouldn’t have them to walk on, the same with runners. It works for everyone.
Regarding similar in downtown Vancouver with motorists, cyclists and pedestrians…as Kipling might say, ‘therein lies another tale!’