Proposed Sierra Club Resolution
Michael Vandeman, Ph.D.
May 30, 2021
Updated August 6, 2021
From: "IMBA" <email@example.com>
Subject: Get incredible mountain biking, right near your place
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 2014 06:45:18 -0600
Heres [sic] the deal...
1. Mountain biking is awesome.
2. Building and maintaining trails is expensive.
3. If we wait for someone else to fund great riding, trails wont [sic] get built, and we wont [sic] ride.
Last year, IMBA's professional trailbuilders built 13 bike parks and 450 miles of new trails. Check the map to see what's happening near you.
And we helped volunteers build and maintain thousands more through grants and technical assistance.
This year, were ready to do it all again, but we need your support.
It's vital that you and every mountain biker pitches in.
Whether its $20, $50, $250 please give what you can to the Trail Building Fund.
Donating is the most effective way to fund trails; the money is matched by other supporters and goes back out to enable local trail work across the U.S.
As a thank you, IMBA will send you a gift of your choice like a limited-edition IMBA cap or a Tech T-shirt only available when you donate now.
Build It. Ride It. Support It.
Michael Van Abel, Executive Director
P.S. Donations to IMBA are tax-deductible and earn 20 percent off anything at the IMBA store. Click here now for your discount code.
207 Canyon BLVD
Boulder, CO 80302
IMBA 5/31/18: "Most hometown trails are built and cared for by local mountain bike groups in support of under-resourced land managers." In other words, habitat destruction is a big part of mountain bikers' mission!
https://www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/110050760/nelson-mountain-bike-club-comes-of-age-as-a-big-cog-on-nz-landscape: This shows exactly why mountain bikers should never be allowed to build trails! Where a hiker only needs a relatively straight trail from point A to point B, mountain bikers want extra twists and bumps to give them thrills, making the trail much longer than necessary and destroying far more habitat.
16. Mountain bikers claim that their sport has no greater environmental impact than hiking. Is that true?
a. If you read the "studies" that make that claim, you find that they don't really compare the impacts of hiking and mountain biking, but only the impacts per foot. If, for a moment, we assume that the studies are correct in their having equivalent impacts per foot, it would still follow that mountain biking has far greater impact per person, since mountain bikers typically travel so much farther than hikers. Besides overlooking distances travelled, those "studies" almost all ignore impacts on wildlife. And they don't study mountain biking under normal conditions -- only at a very slow speed. Actually, the comparison with hiking is irrelevant. It would only be relevant if we planned to allow only one of the two, and were considering which of the two is more harmful. In fact, no one is considering banning hiking. We are only considering adding mountain biking. Therefore, the only relevant question is, "Is mountain biking harmful"? (Of course, it is!) There is only one truly scientific study that I know of that compares the impacts of hiking and mountain biking. It found that mountain biking has a greater impact on elk than hiking (Wisdom, M. J., H. K. Preisler, N. J. Cimon, B. K. Johnson. 2004. Effects of Off-Road Recreation on Mule Deer and Elk. Transactions of the North American Wildlife and Natural Resource Conference 69, 2004, pp.531-550.) See https://mjvande.info/scb7.htm.
b. On its web site, IMBA mentions recent research on mountain biking by Dave White et al and Jeff Marion, both of whom claim that mountain biking and hiking have "similar" impacts. Is that true? First, "similar" is not a scientific term and really has no clear meaning. That term is being used only to obfuscate. Second, these are survey studies, not experimental studies. By its very nature, a survey study cannot be used to compare the impacts from two activities, because it doesn't control all the variables. For example, we don't know if the differences in erosion between two trails are due to the mountain biking vs. hiking use, or due to differences in the weather, terrain, steepness, soil type, management practices, amount of use, hikers on the "mountain biking trail", mountain bikers on the "hiking trail", etc. White et al only measured their trails once, and didn't even collect any data on hiking impacts! See https://mjvande.info/white.htm and https://mjvande.info/marion.htm.
c. Why would a researcher risk his/her reputation by doing such shoddy work? For money! And to ensure the continuance of their sport. If land managers think that mountain biking is more harmful than hiking, they will be more likely to close trails to bikes. Bike parts manufacturer Shimano paid Professor White to do his study. Research funds are difficult to obtain. A researcher who can be relied upon to produce research favorable to mountain biking will be able to obtain funding from the mountain biking industry. A researcher who tells the truth about mountain biking won't be able to obtain research funds and will risk stunting his/her career.
18. What should the policy be on trails? Closed to bikes, unless marked open. Signs that say "No Bikes" are quickly and repeatedly ripped out of the ground by mountain bikers. Bikes should never be permitted on any unpaved trail.
19. Overview of common mountain bike injuries:
20. Isn't mountain biking good for kids, since it gets them off the couch? Mountain bikers would like you to believe that mountain biking is the only thing that will get kids off the couch (there are many less harmful physical activities that will do that, including hiking and street bicycling), and that mountain bike racing is environmentally benign and is beneficial for the kids (at least the ones that aren't seriously injured or killed!). The psychology of racing (e.g. Peak Mental Performance Coaching: http://www.pinkbike.com/news/psychology-in-cycling-a-pmpc-appraoch-2015.html) is all about ignoring everything and everyone in the world, so that you can win a race. I have never had any interest in racing, so I can't say whether it works, but it does seem to embody everything that is bad about mountain biking: ignoring erosion, the killing of animals and plants, the terrorizing of other trail users, and the endangerment of mountain bikers and others. This is why it is so important to "nip it in the bud" - in grade school and high school, where the racing addiction is fostered - by people who care more about spreading their sport than they do about the welfare of children.
21. Isn't it good to get more people on bikes, and thereby clean up the air? It's good to get people out of their cars and riding bikes instead. But mountain biking doesn't do that – it is done for recreation, not transportation, and doesn't replace motor vehicle trips. In fact, most mountain bikers drive to the trailhead, since very few mountain biking trails are within bicycling distance of their homes. And mountain biking dirties the air: one day I met a woman who told me that a mountain biker (on a trail closed to bikes) skidded past her at high speed and filled the air – and her lungs – with dust!
22. One more reason to ban mountain biking: the enormous cost of rescuing someone from the wilds, often with helicopters or all-terrain vehicles, and medical personnel.
23. The speed limit for bicycles in the East Bay Regional Park District is 15 MPH. But the only way to enforce that rule is for the police to ride dirt bikes, which are even more destructive than mountain bikes!
24. Mountain biking is extremely dangerous: https://mjvande.info/mtb_dangerous.htm. Broken bones, paralysis, and even deaths are common. Mountain bikers claim that mountain biking provides a financial boost to the community, but that ignores the cost of these injuries and the increased load on emergency services, such as search and rescue.
25. Mountain biking is addicting, which many mountain bikers have admitted. You can tell by the fact that mountain bikers continue mountain biking even when it hurts them or their family or friends. Even mountain bikers who turn themselves into paraplegics or quadriplegics still seek ways to continue their sport! That is the sign of an addiction. See https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/06/210610091004.htm.
26. What is the point of mountain biking? Mountain biking through the wilderness is like bicycling through an art museum. How much are you going to see? Is that a good way to learn about art?
27. The Sierra Club is supposed to be a democratic organization. All policies are supposed to start at the chapter level and work their way up through all levels to the Board of Directors. But the Club’s mountain biking policy was created through an anti-democratic process. REI hosted a meeting with IMBA (International Mountain Bicycling Association) and the Sierra Club at Park City, Utah in 1994. Anyone opposed to mountain biking, such as me, were excluded from the meeting! The Sierra Club agreed to support mountain biking where it isn’t harmful to the environment (which doesn’t exist), and IMBA agreed to support Wilderness designation. But IMBA has never lived up to its side of the bargain! It has never supported Wilderness designation. The Club was hoodwinked. The Club’s policy should be rescinded. It was illegitimate from the start.
Be it resolved that bicycles and other non-emergency vehicles should not be allowed on any unpaved trails.
P.S. If you disagree, please explain why. Also, if I missed any important issues, please let me know.