Date: Tue, 03 Sep 2002 07:42:39 -0700
From: Frank Lurz <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Support for BikesBelong.org
Dear Ms. Kraft,
Like you, I recognize the need for increasing the health of our communities,
particularly by advocating activities that require physical exertion. However,
I believe that it is necessary to recognize that this goal, worthy though it may
be, must not override all else, and certainly must not be allowed to be attained
at the expense of other goals that are equally, if not more worthy.
The "healthy benefits" of mountain biking have often been used to justify
the practice of this sport, but its advocates typically say nothing about its
negative impacts on the health of other people who visit our parks and
open spaces on foot or horseback. Nor do they give any consideration
to the serious negative impacts upon the health of parks and open spaces
In fact, the fear of being struck by speeding bikes makes for such an
unpleasant experience that when hiking trails are opened to bicycle traffic,
pedestrians eventually disappear, and in cases where there are no alternate
trails for them to use that are closed to bikes, people typically stop hiking
altogether. I know from personal experience - because I am one of them!
Equestrians, too, have been negatively impacted by mountain biking.
In places where bikes have been allowed equestrians report frequent
conflicts, and worse, serious accidents caused by reckless mountain
bikers that have resulted in injuries and death for both horse and rider.
If "health" is your goal, you should also know that the sport of mountain
biking incurs far more serious injuries on an annual basis than most any
other sport. Early data (1994 - 1997) has shown that more than 80% of 650
mountain bikers who participated in medical surveys were injured in off-road
crashes during a one year period, with broken bones consistently accounting
for 20% to 30% of the total and with brain concussions constituting 3% to 12%.
The emergency room in Moab, Utah, a popular mountain biking area, treats
between 10 to 30 mountain bikers on a typical spring or fall weekend.
For your benefit I have included the references for these statistics below.
If the health of all members of the community, including those who are not
mountain cyclists, is a genuine concern of yours, I ask you to reconsider your
support for the dangerous and certainly unhealthy practice of mountain biking.
Kronisch RL, Rubin AL: Traumatic injuries in off-road bicycling. Clin J Sport
Pfeiffer RP, Kronisch RL: Off-road cycling injuries, an overview. Sports Med
Kronisch RL, Chow TK, Simon LM, et al: Acute injuries in off-road bicycle
racing. Am J Sports Med
Kronisch RL, Pfeiffer RP, Chow TK: Acute injuries in cross-country and downhill
off-road bicycle racing.
Med Sci Sports Exerc 1996;28(11):1351-1355
Rivara FP, Thompson DC, Thompson RS, et al: Injuries involving off-road cycling.
J Fam Pract
Edmund R. Burke, Ph.D., Active.com, 1/4/2002, http://www.active.com/story.cfm?story_id=8429