Okay, so I won’t fuzz around and come right to it. Living in beautiful Victoria as the capital city of British Columbia I continue to be saddened by the lacking acceptance of mountain biking and the conditions local bikers have to put up with. And with the latest issue of MudNews, the newsletter of the South Island Mountain Bike Society (SIMBS), I had to find out that the CRD is thinking of making things worse!
British Columbia is THE center of mountain biking and especially freeriding world wide and Vancouver Island is home to world class riders like Darren Berrecloth. Companies renowned worldwide like Norco, Kona and many others call BC home. Yet somehow it feels like back in the days when snowboarders were not allowed on the lifts or skateboarders were automatically considered outlaws.
Things have to change and here is a todo list for the local politicians, decision makers and anybody that can help for your convenience:
- Open all CRD parks!
- As far as I am concerned pretty much all CRD parks should be opened for biking
to some degree. It should certainly not get to a stage where Hartland/Mt. Work,
currently the one and only park open for real mountain biking gets closed as well.
Unpaid volunteer work and insurance payments kept it going for years! All of us
bikers pay just as much tax as hikers using the parks and have a right to use
this public land.There are awesome opportunities like real urban mountain biking in
Mt. Douglas accessible by our youth by public transport (or bike!) or world class
tours e.g. in East Sooke park easily usable as tourism magnets.
To make this happen the insurance situation has to be resolved. Personally I don’t
really care too much about the technicalities. A note like “Use at your own risk” is
just fine by me. I am seriously baffled, how it can be possible that a single club of
users has to pay insurance for all bikers and beyond (member or not!). That is the
case with SIMBS and Hartland! I am sure some creative plan can be devised to either
come up with the money for insurance like a sponsor or CRD or some other authority
paying for it somehow or make it not necessary.
One important thing to consider when planning what to open or close that often gets
neglected by the authorities is the fact that merely stopping to allow it will NOT stop
the bikers. It will just cause more illegal usage and trails being built without
authorisation. This in turn creates more friction and conflict.
- Dirt Jump Parks
- What can I say – we need local dirt jump parks. They are the perfect outdoor
recreation that can be set up in town accessible to kids of all ages. I live in
Saanich and we are seriously lagging behind. Sooke got one! Cumberland, Nanaimo and so on..
We got awesome recreation
centers with pools, skate parks, ice rinks and all sorts of other fancy facilities, but
not enough money for a few hills of dirt?Built in the right location these parks could
be great places for training and courses just like skate parks, tennis courts and all
the other infrastructure we got. In turn it would provide a venue for all users to come
together and participate towards common trail building and maintenance efforts beyond the
jump parks as well as a local recreation spot in town. Wouldn’t this be great!
- Bike courses, tours and training offers through the rec centers
- The whole setup with the various recreation centers is truly great. However looking closer at it there seems to be a bit of a gap when looking at biking. Where at the organised trips to the various bike locations or guided tours through Hartland? What about beginner and advanced courses or specific courses for kids, teens, women and so on? I am sure finding instructors as well as participants would be easy and everthing would be
very well received.
- Support SIMBS and other volunteer organisations
- The truly inspiring work done by volunteers when it comes to trail maintenance, introductory rides, advocacy and more deserves much more than keeping the maintained trails open. I would suggest to consider paying for the trail maintenance and training of trail builders to be appropriate. How about that for a thought? Even if the willingness to go that far does not exist, I am sure there are many ways to reward the efforts of the community!
So those are my suggestions. I am sure with a minimal effort to promote, sponsor and support the active community there are huge benefits to be gained. They include financial gains via taxes on bike and accessory purchases and indirectly from the healthier bike stores. Over the course of a year or two most bikers will spend thousands of dollars on new accessories, bikes for the kids and more. A chance to establish a name on the international bike scence and the resulting tourism as well as raising future competitors and athletes in our community. Additional side effects on the community and other benefits all add up to an opportunity that should not go to waste. I certainly hope we will raise to the challenge.
Whatever happens I will keep riding and so will all other dedicated riders.
I seriously hope not to be pushed into riding as an outlaw. I wont be able to
explain to my kids why they can go hike, but not ride in the woods.
That would be so sad. Lets start towards the opposite in 2007!
Please spread the word and send requests for changes towards these goals to your representatives. I will keep you up to date on the feedback I receive from the parties I will send this to…