An intern named Iris is doing a study on mountain biking on the Campus Natural Reserve. She has been stopping and interviewing riders as they rode though the Upper Moore Creek (a.k.a Star Wars) trail. She interviewed a friend of mine…
She mentioned that they are considering an interpretive trail through Star Wars. She asked if bikers would stay on the trail if it was routed out of the “creek” bed. My friend mentioning the fact that it is only a creek when it rains and the runoff from parking lots and streets are also flowing into it. Bikers would stay on the trail if they made it fun but currently, it is still appropriate for bikers, horses and hikers.
It was mentioned to her the numerous studies that support our position that hikers and bikers cause similar amounts of damage and it is a qualitative difference that, due to the numbers of bikers on the trails, often gets biased against us. MBOSC has offered to help with constructing any trails on campus that would be open to bikers, and equestrians including a re-route of Seven Springs. As an example, MBOSC had success with the Uconn trail and it has held up with essentially no maintenance and the illegal campsites and bootleg running trails that used to be in that area are no longer there.
It is our opinion that the UC should use the “reserve” as a research tool to study urban trail design and use for all users. UC should not continue with the status quo that “hikers and their trail damage are okay but others are not” without providing any scientific basis for that position. People have been riding, running, and hiking on that trail far longer than it has been a reserve and that they will continue to ride it since they don’t have any better access to the upper campus. In fact, I wonder if she was aware that there is a sewer main buried down the middle of that canyon, and that the Rec department put the “par course” down it decades ago, thereby establishing it as a recreational and fitness route for the campus community.
She seems to be the typical environmental intern with preconceived ideas that mountain biking damages trails (hint: it’s actually the water) but she was still interested in getting our perspective. She admitted that she hikes and doesn’t enjoy sports involving speed so I doubt if she will ever relate to why we love riding so much.
We don’t expect much from this. It is interesting that the CNR is looking for changes to improve the situation. Maybe they’ll actually do something that doesn’t try to shut us out!