Trail Manners?

Anything specific to off-road riding.

Trail Manners?

Postby BearOnWheels » Sun Feb 23, 2014 10:27 am

As an occasional mountain biker, I do not usually post in this area of the forum. However, one incident last week left me irate and puzzled.

I took my two children to Whinlater and went round the Quercus (blue) route with them. The older one is keen and skilful, but this was only the second time my youngest had ridden off road on this trail. They were doing fine - oldest in front, youngest in the middle and me at the back acting as sweeper up / snack bar/ drinks carrier and rearguard.

One rider went past and he was civilised, polite and patient as my youngest negotiated a raised timber section of the trail. We all pulled over to let him past.

Later on in a wooded section, to my horror and utter amazement a further rider went past at what I can only describe as race pace. A scream of 'ON YOUR RIGHT!" and this rider shot past me at a pace well beyond what I would describe as 'controlled'. I yelled 'Mind my children' - too late. I rode down and found my eldest white faced and swearing about - well the sort of language I reserve for car drivers who pass 2 inches from my handlebars on the road. My youngest was shaking like a leaf (at age 11). It took some reassurance from me that I would now stick to their rear wheel to prevent such incidents occurring again. No warning was issued by the passing rider and no attempt was made to slow down.

To me that sort of riding is:-
1) Reckless
2) Dangerous
3) Reserved for those occasions when junior riders will NOT be on the trail (so outside of half term or school holidays)
4) Should be banned

The last point is easy. Operate the trail centres like ski resorts. Buy a day pass, sign the rules and if you are caught breaking them you are banned. End of story.
End of rant. Other than that, we all loved it!
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Re: Trail Manners?

Postby Si » Sun Feb 23, 2014 11:43 am

The last point is easy. Operate the trail centres like ski resorts. Buy a day pass, sign the rules and if you are caught breaking them you are banned.

Never work. A good number of people won't pay when they can just join the trail at any point for free. And on most trails it will be impossible to stop them entering at any point - the cost of fencing off the trail would be enormous unless the whole area is fenced off already. Likewise, given the length of most built trails, how would you police them to see if people are breaking the rules?

Nope, the only real way to encourage better behaviour on trails is education and peer pressure. Perhaps if you address the people who run the trails or any clubs or internet fora whose members use these trails, telling them how inconsiderate riding by a few selfish people is putting off the next generation, they might be further moved to emphasise good trail use to the users?

Regarding dangerous or 'bad' trail use, TBH, I would not complain about people going very fast or overtaking unless it's designated a Family Trail. I don't know the trail in question, but on the built trails I use part of the fun is going flat out and testing your skills to the max - that's why people built the trail in the first place. Thus, on my trails if someone comes up fast behind me and passes at speed having given an audible warning, I would not be annoyed, indeed, I would feel some duty to get out of the way if convenient so as not to spoil their ride. On the other hand, I would agree that doing close, unexpected, fast passes on inexperienced children is a bad thing, and this is what I would emphasise if it were me making the complaint. Likewise, if the overtaking rider forced their way past me, or got verbally annoyed because I had no where to go to let him past, then I would say that they were out of order (and in the past other riders have learned the error of their ways the hard way.....I'm more solid on a bike than I look!).

So basically, I think what I'm saying is that to garner more support for your issue within the MTB community - concentrate your complaint on how the chap treated your kids rather than his general 'race pace' speed, as if other MTBers get the impression that you are just complaining about fast riding then they'll lose sympathy. And I hope that your kids get over the shock, that they realise that this chap was not typical of the MTB community, and that they can continue to enjoy their MTBing.
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Re: Trail Manners?

Postby thirdcrank » Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:27 pm

While prevention is always better than subsequent detection and punishment, you may gain some comfort from my impression that the police and other authorities take injuries to children caused by cyclists seriously, arguably more seriously than when they've been caused by bad driving. With GBH, there's no arguments about whether the route was or wasn't a road or any of the other legal twiddly bits. Max five years on indictment. That's when the only mens rea is recklessness. GBH with intent has a max of life impt.


PS Forgot to mention that the wanton and reckless carriage driving offence isn't restricted to roads and it applies to any bodily harm to any person whatsover. Max = 2 years impt.
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Re: Trail Manners?

Postby Milfred Cubicle » Tue Mar 11, 2014 8:44 pm

It's saddening to hear of kids being put off riding by a selfish minority. If you'd been on a black or red route I could have perhaps understood the speed differential, but a blue route? Sadly there are a few Sunday warriors at every trail centre, who use the blue and green routes to show how 'fast' they are. Put them on a black or downhill run and all of a sudden they're not that skilled. My advice would be to write to the trail centre, and suggest some more obvious trail guides. They put a lot of effort into making sure riders don't take on trails beyond their ability. Perhaps a campaign to make sure faster riders stick to the more challenging routes ? or to be prepared to slow for inexperienced riders if they choose to ride blue routes. I hope the kids get over it and get back out there. Real riders get the biggest buzz from seeing new riders make progress and come back for more!
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Re: Trail Manners?

Postby Bikefayre » Fri Jan 09, 2015 2:56 pm

This is why I'm frightened of Lycra cyclists, though are not having a go at anyone here, here in my local wooded area was nearly wiped out along with a blind dog and lady dog walker by super arrogant mtb couple riding at A road speeds. Welcome to the sometimes sad brutal world of cycling. Hope it hasn't put your children off cycling and it sounds to me as if you are exactly the type of cyclist I like and want to meet!
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Re: Trail Manners?

Postby ferdinand » Sun Jan 11, 2015 9:34 pm

You could of course hear On Your Right as 'On the right' and move right, if necessary and you choose to take the risk for protection of kids' sake.

When overtaking on normal trails I don't suggest a side until I have the ped's attention, having had too many just pickup the direction and move there.

My take is that the faster vehicle behind has the Duty of Care, and Duty Not to Be A Reckless Idiot, just as cars to cyclists and cyclists to pedestrians in normal circumstances.

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Re: Trail Manners?

Postby Mattyfez » Wed Jan 21, 2015 9:46 pm

It does sound pretty ignorant.

You'd expect novices on such trails and ride accordingly, unfortunately there's always a small percentage of people in any group, be it mountain bikers, road bikers, walkers, car drivers, etc. Who seem to think they own the place.

I'd probably chalk it down to experience and and use it as a good example to your kids for how not to act, manners cost nothing etc.
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