New peer reviewed research has been released which helps improve the understanding of how mountain bikers interact with the natural environment, explore their attitudes towards sustainability, and the variety of trails that riders enjoy.
The research was led by Dr Tom Campbell, of Edinburgh Napier University, a lead Scottish academic within DIRTT (Developing Inter-European Resources for Trailbuilder Training) Project.
The DIRTT Project aims to develop a professional training regime for trail planning, design, construction, maintenance and management. The countries involved are Switzerland, Portugal, Scotland, Netherlands, Denmark and Norway.
The popularity of the sport and emerging current trends are suggesting that trail and enduro riding on hand-built and ‘off-piste’ are the most popular amongst more experienced riders whilst people new to the sport prefer the consistency of trails which are built by machines and will, typically, have a more reliable surface.
The use of unauthorised trials, controlled by land access rights, differs substantially across Europe. Although most mountain bikers make use of wet trails and illegal trails, the incidence of conflict is relatively low. The study also found that mountain bikers are prepared to contribute towards trail maintenance through the provision of labour or financially.
The study will have practical implications for designing trail networks in the future.
Graeme McLean, Head of Developing Mountain Biking in Scotland
‘The peer reviewed research confirms the trends we have seen in mountain biking development over the last 10 years. We need to be able to incorporate hand built, steep, and technical trails into our trail centres. By planning these trails into our official networks we can hope to reduce the amount of unauthorised trail building and give experienced riders the trails they want to ride. It is also clear that the MTB community want to be engaged and help build, then maintain, these trails or if they are unable to give time they would happily contribute financially to the types of trails they want to ride.
We also need more green, blue, and red trails at trail centres to cope with the number of new people who want to access our sport. It is this variety of trail that will keep Scottish mountain biking fresh and help us develop a world class trail network.’
Key findings of the study showed that one of the main motivations for mountain biking is the connection to nature and that mountain bikers do have a strong appreciation of nature and a sense of environmental responsibility.
The study concluded that European mountain bikers care about the sustainability of the natural environment, and their attitudes and self-reported behaviours suggest a willingness to reduce their impact and actively protect nature. In particular, mountain bikers feel a responsibility for developing and maintaining the trail network.
Link to research paper : https://www.mdpi.com/1396208