Archive for the ‘International’ Category

Why? Good Question!

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

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By Mark Langton

It was recently brought to our attention that newly elected president of Equestrian Trails, Inc. (ETI) Robert Foster, a retired law enforcement officer, donates his time as an emergency medical technician at So Cal High School Mountain Bike Racing League races. Mr. Foster is a staunch supporter of the league, and in his president’s message in ETI’s most recent newsletter he stated that it’s a new era in our public open space trail systems, and mountain bikers are part of the trail user community so we all should try to figure out ways to get along.

Now I’ve been doing this advocacy thing for over 25 years, and I’ve experienced a lot of encouraging progress in the areas of shared use, especially when it comes to opening more trails to bicycle use. To hear the president of an organization that has historically had some of its members rally against mountain bikes say that we need to get along is truly groundbreaking. But things like this come fewer and more far between than I’d like, and during these 25 years I have often asked myself “why am I doing this?” The answer is always “because it’s the right thing to do.” This might sound insane (insanity once being defined by Albert Einstein as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results), and in many ways this might be true. But then something like Robert Foster’s reasonable position comes along and I think to myself, maybe we have been doing the right thing after all.

Over the years we have heard many reasons people feel mountain bikes don’t mix on shared use trails, but only one is valid; people riding their bikes too fast at the wrong time and place (around other trail users) is just not a pleasant experience for the people being passed at an inappropriate speed. As I’ve said many times before, we all have within our power the ability to solve this issue: slow down. In other words, use caution when around others. Let me put it another way; your actions represent the entire mountain bike community. The smile you create through a pleasant trail encounter goes a long way.

Be The Solution

Monday, December 10th, 2012

By Mark Langton

I agree with hikers. I agree that when a mountain biker goes by me too close and too fast, it’s scary and unsettling. And they don’t have to be going fast, just too fast for the conditions. If a mountain biker goes by me at 15 mph on a fire road, no problem. If a mountain biker goes by me at 15 mph on a singletrack trail less than six inches from me, then I have a bit of a problem.

I agree with hikers right up to the point when they say all mountain bikers should be banned from trails because some of them go too fast around other users. You can’t tell me I’m banned from the trails because of someone else’s irresponsible behavior.

I believe there’s nothing wrong with going fast, as long as it’s being done safely (and within reason). If mountain bikers go so fast as to create a danger to themselves–such as crashing and having to utilize tax payer money to get medical treatment and evacuation from the backcountry–then people could point at the mountain bike community as creating an undue burden on the resource management agency. But as we’ve seen, crashes of this nature are relatively few. But the agency still takes notice when there’s an increase.

I know there are those out there, myself included, who are angry at the people who disregard common sense and speed past others with no regard for common courtesy. They’ve replied many times to our blog posts. They are angry because they know that the people who are acting irresponsibly know they are doing it, but continue to do it anyway in spite of the fact they are giving the mountain biking community a bad name; when all they have to do is very simple. Be The Solution. Just slow down around others.

As an experiment today I stopped in the middle of a singletrack trail as a rider approached me coming downhill. Although he had plenty of room to see me, he ran into me, and nearly flew over the handlebar. He was apologetic, and the conversation we had was enlightening; because he was used to others getting out of his way, he just assumed I would, too.  I recounted an instance when I was riding along a trail and I came upon a hiker with her head down, and as I slowed to a stop she looked up, startled, and nearly fell over backward. Had I assumed she heard me and was going to get out of my way, I probably would have run into her.

It’s never going to be completely safe on the trails. There are always going to be accidents, but by slowing down around others (and maybe even slowing down for blind corners), we might be able to avoid a lot of very avoidable ones.

 

 

 

 

Resolve to Solve in 2013

Monday, December 10th, 2012

How many of you have New Year’s Resolutions that you are hoping to keep? There is one you can make and keep, guaranteed. It will help you, the mountain bike community, and the trail community at large. Ready? Slow down when passing others!

How many things in life can you do that actually solve a problem? On our trails, the one justifiable complaint about mountain bikers is that they sometimes go too fast when passing others, which can be scary and upsetting,even to other cyclists. So all you have to do is slow down when passing, and you SOLVE THE PROBLEM!

Slowing down while passing others on our shared-use trails is a pure win-win proposition. The people who you pass feel good about mountain bikers. WIN! You feel good because you didn’t scare anyone, and everyone has a pleasant exchange. WIN!

Here’s a suggestion: Treat others you are passing on the trail as if you are holding the door open for them. That brief pause is a show of consideration, courtesy, and humanity that will come back to you and the mountain bike community in many positive ways.

It’s up to you. Would you rather finish your ride knowing you did something positive for mountain bikers and trails users, or that you made it worse for yourself and the mountain bike community? You CAN make a difference. And all it takes is slowing down when passing other users!

 

Mountain Biking to Grow 30% in Scotland

Monday, June 27th, 2011

The BBC reports there will be a 30% growth in mountain biking in Scotland over the next five years.

“The idea of a healthy adventure activity, where you can just pick up your bike and go, has grabbed the imagination of the mass market,” Katrina Morrison, Scottish Enterprise, told the BBC.

As a result of the demand, Tourism Intelligence Scotland produced a guide on mountain biking tourism offering advice on how to cater to cyclists’ needs–suggesting companies stock up on basic bicycle repair items, offer secure bike racks and cleaning facilities, and print off daily weather forecasts for guests.

More than 1.3 million visits are made to Scotland each year for mountain biking, according to the Scottish Enterprise.

Thinking of planning a trip to the UK (like I suddenly am)? You won’t need much convincing after reading these articles about mountain biking in Scotland.

From Beth Puliti, About.com Guide  June 27, 2011

Rwanda Fundraiser Ride is Saturday, April 10th

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

From the Warrior Society Weekly News

Announcing the 4th Annual 50 Mile Ride for Project Rwanda

When: Saturday, April 10, 2010

Where: Staging and post-ride party at Cooks Corner (19152 Santiago Canyon Road Trabuco Canyon, CA 92679).

Register: Online at www.50mileride.com

Entry Fee: $50 (5 Mile Fun Ride – $25). Online registration closes April 8. All entries receive free custom dri-fit t-shirt.

Check-in: Avoid the lines on event day – pick up rider bags on Friday April 9 from 11am to 6pm at Rock n Road Cyclery (on Santa Margarita Pkwy in Mission Viejo).

Purpose: To raise funds and build awareness for Project Rwanda (www.ProjectRwanda.org). Those that have participated before know that the 50 Mile Ride is a “ride”, not a race. Cyclists participate for a lot of reasons: some for the challenge of riding further on a mountain bike than ever before, some because they love the Project Rwanda cause, some for the fun of sharing the day with tons of their mtb buddies. The event has raised almost $100,000 for Project Rwanda in its first three years. These funds are making a huge difference in furthering the economic development of Rwanda through initiatives based on the bicycle as a tool and symbol of hope.

50 mile, 25 mile, and 5 mile fun ride options are available. 50 mile option starts at 7:00am (check-in at 6:15am), 25 mile option starts at 9:00am (check-in at 8:15am), and 5 mile family fun ride starts at 11:00am (check in at 10:30am). Details at www.50mileride.com.

Post-Ride Party: After the ride stick around for a BBQ sponsored by Cook’s Corner, starting at noon. There will be a HUGE raffle (starting at approx 3:00pm) with tons of cool prizes including a Grand Prize raffle of a Trigon full-carbon bike valued at over $9000. Plus, there’ll be massage therapists, booths from local bike shops, and a live auction for a genuine Project Rwanda Coffee Bike. Bring your friends and family to share in the fun!

Mexico City bicycle program pedals uphill

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Officials in Mexico’s capital have parked bikes in key areas and, for a fee, made them available to commuters in hopes of making a dent in the city’s aggressive car culture and improving the air.

The Ecobici program parks bikes in key spots in the capital for the use of commuters who pay an annual fee.

From the Los Angeles Times

 Take a vast, teeming megalopolis where the car is king, bicycle paths are few and motorists often seem determined to mow down anyone not tucked behind a steering wheel.

Now try talking residents into pedaling to work every day to help the environment.

That’s the task facing Mexico City officials, who have parked hundreds of bikes in busy neighborhoods in hopes of getting people to avoid cars and instead bicycle to the office, class or a lunch date.

The new project, called Ecobici, is modeled on bike-lending programs in such cities as Barcelona, Spain; Paris; and Copenhagen. Planners hope that by saturating certain Mexico City neighborhoods with the three-speed bikes, they can persuade residents to consider making cycling at least part of their daily commute.

Ecobici users pay a $24 yearly registration fee and get a membership card, which they can swipe across an electronic reader at any station to release a bicycle. Riders have free use for up to 30 minutes and are charged up to $3 an hour for longer intervals.

Yet it’s hard to envision a steeper road for bike commuting than chaotic, smoggy Mexico City, where 4 million vehicles joust for position and — this may sound familiar to Angelenos — many residents view riding the bus or subway as about as likely as space travel.

“A lot of people said, ‘You are crazy; bikes in Mexico City?’ But we have visited a lot of cities around the world that did it with success,” said Martha Delgado, environmental secretary for Mexico City’s government. “We have beautiful weather here. We need to recover space. We need to improve air quality.”

 So far, city officials have placed 1,100 bikes at 85 stations in several busy neighborhoods near downtown. The areas were chosen as promising proving grounds because they boast a mix of residences and businesses.

The sturdy-looking red-and-white bikes, outfitted with a headlight and rack for belongings, also are sprinkled along the city’s premier boulevard, Paseo de la Reforma. The bikes and equipment cost $6 million.

About 2,600 people have signed up, far from the eventual target of 24,000. But use is picking up, officials say.

On a recent day, Ivan Lemale, a 21-year-old student, pedaled one of the city-provided bikes along a tree-shaded boulevard in the La Condesa neighborhood as he headed to an appointment.

Lemale, a self-described environmentalist, said he was among the first to join when the program began in February. He said he has used the service regularly for short trips around the urban center.

Moments earlier, an aggressive taxi driver had nearly plowed into him on the busy avenue. But Lemale was looking on the bright side.

“Bicycles and cars can coexist very well. The only thing is respect,” he said. “That is the solution.”

The idea isn’t fun, but function. Mexico City leaders see bike borrowing as a key link in a public transportation chain that includes the 4-decade-old subway and a 5-year-old express bus system, called Metrobus, which operates on 24 miles of dedicated lanes.

The sprawling capital is too big to pedal from one end to the other on a daily basis. But officials hope commuters use the bikes for the first or last leg of their journeys, making it easier to rely on public transportation rather than driving or taking a taxi.

In a city that adds 250,000 vehicles to the streets each year, the goal of Ecobici is to increase the share of trips people take by bicycle to 5%, from 1% now. Residents make about 30 million trips a day.

Some people complain that the annual fee is too high. And a lack of information has many others scratching their heads over the rows of shiny bicycles that have popped up where coveted parking spaces used to be.

The biggest barrier to turning capitalinos into bike commuters is what cyclists say is the lack of a bicycling culture here. Though plenty of brave souls get around by bike, motorists often treat cyclists — and pedestrians — as irritants. Bike paths don’t always connect with one another and, in the most crowded areas, are often occupied by cars anyway.

Mexico City officials are trying to alter that thinking.

The government of Mayor Marcelo Ebrard clears traffic from Paseo de la Reforma and other thoroughfares Sunday mornings to make room for cyclists and joggers. The nearly 3-year-old recreational program is popular and has given residents a tempting taste of what a cycling life here might feel like.

In addition, authorities recently issued a new traffic code spelling out riders’ right to share lanes with cars and requiring motorists to slow down when passing bicycles. They envision a day when Mexico City — huge, tumultuous and car-centered — hops on a bike to get places.

“If we want to have a future,” said Delgado, the environmental secretary, “we have to open the door to bikes in Mexico City.”