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Survey Shows Improvements in Mountain Biking Etiquette

Mountain bikers in the Northeast noticed improved behavior in the sport over the last two years while riding, at trailheads, and in the community according to a recent survey. The Northern Forest Center and the Bike Borderlands collaborative heard from more than 430 riders in the survey about their perceptions of mountain biking culture and how to build a more respectful mountain biking community.
Ride With Gratitude _Trail Sign
On March 11, the Center hosted a webinar that delved into what riders say they are seeing in the community, how effective education efforts have been, and how to share survey taker’s suggestions for future improvements, as well as provided opportunities for webinar participants to weigh in.
In addition to current perceptions, the survey measured awareness and effectiveness of the Ride With Gratitude outreach effort, an initiative of the Center in partnership with members of the Borderlands collaborative. The initiative urges mountain bikers to respect the land and other trail users through four main tenets: Respect This Gift, Protect Nature, Care for Others, and Be the Example.
“Mountain biking in the Northeast is largely dependent on access to private land or land managed by various land trusts or state and local agencies,” said Center Outdoor Recreation Manager Joe Fox. “Ride With Gratitude encourages people to ride in a way that doesn’t jeopardize that. These landowners and land stewards need to trust that mountain
bikers are interacting positively with other user groups and the spaces they ride.”
Of those who had taken the Ride With Gratitude pledge, more than 50% attested to a change in their own behavior – anything from “being intentional about stopping for other trail users” to “staying off wet trails.” Sixty-eight percent of respondents found the outreach effort has had a positive influence on the mountain biking community.
One of the Borderlands collaborative members, Franconia Area New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA), has trails that cross over 30+ landowner properties as well as state, town, and federal forest land.
“Since joining the Ride With Gratitude campaign, we've seen an increase in riders' respect for our landowners and things like weather-related trail closures, other trail users, and the natural resources that make this network so special,” said Franconia Area NEMBA President Tim Clough. “By generating goodwill with landowners, we now find ourselves
having additional landowners wondering how they can connect their properties to our network.”
Clough said that Franconia Area NEMBA hopes to be able to maintain these great trails and positive relationships for years to come because people commit to “respecting this gift” and “being the example.”
The survey went to people who had previously taken the Ride With Gratitude pledge, Bike Borderlands partner networks, NEMBA and Vermont Mountain Bike Association (VMBA) chapter members, and other trail networks in the region. Most of the participants ride weekly and expressed interest in seeing education outreach efforts like this continue.
“The survey showed us Ride With Gratitude is working. We’ve had trail networks throughout the country reach out, interested in getting trail signs and materials to promote the ethos at their home networks,” Fox said. “They value consistent language and imagery talking about etiquette and they share a sense of urgency in making sure that all of us in the mountain biking community are representing the sport well.”
Trail networks, bike shops, or other mountain biking entities can reach out to Joe Fox at [email protected] for more information on joining the initiative. “Ride With Gratitude exists to be an asset to riders everywhere, inviting collaborative creation of a more positive, respectful, and welcoming mountain biking community.”