Date: Tue, 03 Sep 2002 07:42:39 -0700

From: Frank Lurz <>

Subject: Re: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Support for


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.


Frank Lurz



Kronisch RL, Rubin AL: Traumatic injuries in off-road bicycling. Clin J Sport

Med 1994;4(4):240-244

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

1997;44(5):481- 485

Edmund R. Burke, Ph.D.,, 1/4/2002,