A month ago I published a little survey on mountain bikingOne of the focal points of recent efforts revise the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (SLMP) has been where and how to allow mountain biking, specifically in the Essex Chain of Lakes. This has generated a lot of discussion about the appropriateness of mountain biking in the Forest Preserve.
New York State is clearly promoting it: the Adirondack Park Agency has signaled an interest in allowing mountain biking in the Essex Chain (which would require new policy, as currently mountain biking is prohibited in Wilderness and Primitive areas) and DEC is opening the Moose River Plains Wild Forest Unit Management Plan to amendments that would support their conceptual mountain bike plan for a 100-mile single track trail system.
It seems, therefore, that the issue of mountain biking in the Forest Preserve has positioned itself onto the leading edge of the classic debate about wilderness and recreation: what kinds of recreation are appropriate? What damage and/or disruption do they do? How are they appropriate or inappropriate aesthetically and historically? What is the appropriate “balance” between wilderness recreation and protection of Wilderness and Wilderness character? What counts as mechanization?
Obviously mountain bikes are different than hiking boots or even skis, but they are also different than motorcycles, snowmobiles and ATVs. There is a great deal of variety in perceptions of mountain biking and its effects on wild areas. It should be noted that there is relatively little science to confirm or challenge conventional or anecdotal wisdom.
Because of all this, I find that many people have trouble sorting through the mountain biking issue. So I decided to dig into it a little bit. I spoke confidentially with friends and acquaintances who mountain bike at various levels and put together a little draft survey for them to take and critique. I got great suggestions and feedback and the resulting survey is now ready for the responses of Almanack readers.
You can take the survey here: Adirondack Mountain Biking Survey.
It is very short and simple, less than a minute to complete.
The last time I offered a survey the results led to a lot of fun. So don’t hesitate, give me some numbers! I’ll be writing an analysis and follow-up article soon.
Photo: A typical mountain bike (courtesy wikimedia user).