With the arrival of spring, we are beginning to see large numbers of trail enthusiasts heading out to partake of our local trails.
As a mountain bike patroller in Fort Collins with Overland Mountain Bike Club’s Diamond Peaks Mountain Bike Patrol, I am excited to get back out on the trails to ride and help trail users and our regional land agencies.
Since high trail use often leads to more interactions between trail users, this is the perfect time to encourage my mountain-biking brethren, and all trail users, to learn good trail etiquette and use it when out on the trails.
For mountain bikers, the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) has developed a set of “Rules of the Trail” to promote responsible and courteous conduct on shared-use trails. These rules detail the basics of good trail etiquette, and every shared-use trail user can benefit from knowing them:
Ride Open Trails: Respect trail and road closures and ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail. Do not trespass on private land. Obtain permits or other authorization as required. Be aware that bicycles are not permitted in areas protected as state or federal wilderness.
Leave No Trace: Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don’t cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.
Control Your Bicycle: Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations and ride within your limits.
Yield Appropriately: Do your best to let fellow trail users know you’re coming — a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners. Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel.
Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic.
Never Scare Animals:Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses.
Plan Ahead: Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.
Whether a hiker, biker, trail runner, pet walker or equestrian, each of us seeks to find enjoyment on the trails. Using good trail etiquette will go a long way toward reaching that goal.
Pete Skram is a board member of the Overland Mountain Bike Club and Fort Collins Cycling Club, a certified mountain bike patroller with Diamond Peaks Mountain Bike Patrol and a member of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Education Coalition (bpeclarimer.org).