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A fascinating discussion. I have to declare an interest here, as someone who has passionately advocated for cycling and walking over many years. Along with other volunteers from Walking SA and the walking clubs, I spent many hours building the PWT to make it the trail that it is. The main architect of the trail, (Rob Marshall) designed it as a walking trail to standards that are closely aligned to IMBA standards, so it’s hardly surprising to me that MTB riders want to use it. The main issue walkers have with MTBs is safety. This is really only a problem with downhill riders due to the speed differentials, and the fact that older walkers may not hear riders, especially when approaching from behind. There are other concerns related to erosion and track braiding, but the jury is still out on this, given that water (not tyres or boots) are the main agents of erosion. Nevertheless, a recent walk on the PWT showed deep tyre tracks from riders, but much lighter footprints from walkers.
Thank for the background on this. Do tyres erode more than walkers? I think there are more experienced people out there than myself to answer this. What I do know is that the MTB community also have volunteers and shovels etc that can solve many of the issues brought up by council and walkers alike. Introducing speed controls via design etc is IMBA specialty and there are quite a few IMBA trained riders in Adelaide that could help.
Short answer is that walkers ansd riders can share trails and maintain them together. The science and safety issues that are being debated are really just a smoke screen. The real issue is the resistance by one group to another new user group accessing the Adelaide Hills trails.
Ultimatelty it would be in the best interests of everyone to allow MTB into trails (not all) that are controlled and maintained, rather than leaving this group underground and uncontrolled.
I think we have a lot of agreement on most points. A key one is that (1) MTB riding should be allowed on a trail-by-trail basis (neither blanket prohibition nor open slather). Another is (2) that physical controls rather than regulation be used to control MTB use. Essentially that means if a track is physically rideable then MTBs should be allowed. Physical means also should be used to limit speeds (especially downhill). Some tracks will never be suitable for MTB riding. Exhorting people to good behaviour is great, but there will always be people who won’t obey common rules and courtesies.
I take issue with you about safety issues just being a smoke screen. Older walkers have legitimate concerns about safety from MTB down-hillers. Many are frightened about this. This is not too different from the MTB rider in the video who is scared to ride on the road amongst fast moving motor traffic.
Hi Bill, thanks for your contribution to the issue. There is a reverse side to the coin here - if riders aren't given MTB only trails, they will seek out unsuitable trails that are used by walkers as well. So our point is that we need to be catered for (as Mitcham Council have so admirably done, although I can't understand why walkers need to use the MTB-only trails in that area).
The MTB-downhillers that you refer to are certainly not the majority of the users of this trail and the perception that all MTB riders belong in that category needs to be addressed - hence this film. The sight lines on PWT are excellent and the widening has indeed made it a safer trail, and therefore less attractive to younger thrill seekers who are more likely to ride out of control and in an inconsiderate manner.
I think riders will ride and walkers will walk wherever they can. Some will be happy to do the right thing, and others will feel the dice loaded against them, and want "natural justice", whatever that is. That's just human nature, and not confined to riders or walkers. Therefore trails that can be shared, will be.
The issue is that its unfair for the faster or more powerful mode to take over at detriment of the less powerful.That's why cars pushed bikes off the road for many years, and cycling almost became extinct. Walkers fear the same thing could happen to them if all trails were built for and open to MTBs. Having said that, the issue is almost entirely about downhill MTBs because relative speeds are much closer to walking pace for uphill and flat riding.
This essentially means that fast downhill MTB riding can only be done on "closed" courses, that walkers (and uphill riders) are discouraged from using. That is not a shared trail.
Coming back to PWT, I agree that the slopes and sight distances are adequate for a shared trail. I hope for everyone's sake there are no clashes from aggressive riders or intransigent walkers.
I think the idea of sharing trails means MTB's slow down when approaching walkers. Easy really - I can go fast on the MTB, but am happy to slow down for a walker as I approach them. We have brakes after all :)
On your recent walk when you noticed deep tyre tracks did you also notice that the trail has been widened and isnt compacted yet? Once its compacted it shouldnt be much of an issue. I pedalled up it last Tuesday night and once you move off the narrow original line the edges are still quite soft due to the recent widening of the trail.
Yeh, the widening of the trail is being done by a retired guy called Ivan. He is purposely widening the trail so that walkers and bikes can pass each other on the trail. He's a walker, not a rider.
I just hope that his digging is sustainable, as you say the edge of the trail is still soft and is subject to slippage.
I saw deeper tyre tracks on both the new (wider) sections as well as the older (narrow) sections.
The problem occurred where the track was almost flat, allowing ponding to occur and a slurry to form. This probably happened most where the soil under the track was already well compacted, preventing water from draining away. The walkers seemed to go around the sticky bits, whereas riders tended to plow through. By walking on the drier bits, walkers not only keep their feet drier, but their footsteps break down the "berm" or dam wall that forms on the low side of the track.
The answer is to have good cross-track drainage so that ponding doesn't occur on flat sections, and water doesn't flow down the trail on sloping sections.
I could get more technical, but I won't. Frankly I don't see this as a big issue because there is actually little difference in erosive power between boots and tyres. There are minor differences though as I've explained. However, I don't want to bore people with a detailed discussion of soil physics unless they really want me to.
Great video. Agree with Wattsy, as a bushwalker and a cyclist I think sharing and courtesy is the way to go, hopefully it gets apporved and that one or two idiots don't ruin it for everyone.
yeh, the irony of this topic is that while there are people out there against sharing trails the trails will always be illegal and the uneducated rider will not necassarily behave appropriately, believe me these riders are a minority, its just they are the ones we keep getting reminded of. If signage was displayed asking riders to yield to walkers, instead of "no bikes" signage then a level of respect would follow.