Comment: Selfish, obtuse cyclists are destroying trails and meadows

A commentary by a resident of Saanich.

It is extremely disappointing to see so many of my fellow cyclists and some cycle groups not use their common sense and feel their wants outweigh the rights of other park or trail users, and the fact their behaviour affects the long-term health of the environs used by all living things.

I refer in particular to the Layritz Park and Interurban campus surrounding areas and trails, since they are the areas I live near and use daily.

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During the wet months, the grass, fields, meadows and trails are soft and particularly susceptible to the pressures exerted on them, as are the exposed tree roots on forest trails.

Yet biking groups and individuals seem determined to turn once solid ground and grassy fields into rutted out, mud pits and mud trails that have quickly become no longer usable to all. Trail walkers both young and especially elderly, dog walkers, and other park and trail users face muddy trails due to a few oblivious bikers.

It is common knowledge that the pounds per square inch on a bike tire against the ground is much greater than a foot and thus has the potential to do much more damage. One or two bikers can turn a path into a mud rut very quickly while it would take 100 walkers to do the same damage.

I have been a bicyclist for 50 years. Street, off-road, mountain are all forms of biking I enjoy but not once in my life have I put myself or my enjoyment ahead of what is right for the environment or other users.

Plowing through wet grass fields or meadows to form new trails would never have crossed my mind. To me, this is pure self-indulgence without respect, or a thought for other humans or living things.

I am particularly disappointed in the lack of respect for the environment and other park users that Triathalon Canada and Saanich Parks has shown by allowing biking activities during the wet winter season.

I have never purposefully gone out of my way and shown such ignorance and selfishness, and turned trails into mud or started new trails on soft, susceptible ground for my own pleasure. That is just pure disrespect for the other trail users and environment.

Biking on trails when the ground is hard is not a problem, nothing really gets hurt long-term, but biking on soft ground quickly expands and widens trails due to the mud that everyone is now trying to avoid, as well as damages tree roots, the plant life and grass.

Establishing new trails while the ground is soft also allows invasive species like broom to flourish because the once hard ground is now disturbed.

It also plays into the ideology that once something is gone we can’t get it back.

Similar to the fact that once a road is plowed into a wilderness area, it is no longer true wilderness because other roads will follow, once one bike trail in a sensitive area is established, more bike trails will appear and the once sensitive habitat is no more.

Death by a thousand cuts is an appropriate analogy.

Yes, parks and trails are for everyone, but common sense must be applied and environmental conditions observed. When park areas and trails are disturbed to the point where others are not able to use them, or they become dangerous for others to use, then that is not fair, either.

Bicyclists, use your common sense and stop being so obtuse and selfish. Stay on hard trails over the wet months and stop making a mess.

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