Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cincinnati may get mountain bike trails after all

Thanks to a committed group of local enthusiasts, Cincinnati just may get mountain bike trails in its parks after all.

On August 3, Cincinnati City Council's Livable Communities Committee directed Cincinnati Parks to work with an appointed committee to design and build a mountain bike trail.

Wes Munzel, a Mount Washington resident who first brought the issue to the attention of the Cincinnati Off Road Alliance (CORA) following a Building Cincinnati story in June – and later penned to Council a criticism of Parks' policy – will be part of the committee. It also is expected that representatives from CORA and Todd Palmeter, parks planner with the Hamilton County Park District, will form the backbone of the new committee.

Both Munzel and CORA made their positions clear before the Council committee: That a June report by Cincinnati Parks Director Willie Carden Jr. suggesting that mountain bike trails cause environmental damage, lead to crime and vandalism in parks, and are far too costly to maintain given the City's current budget is not supported by the evidence even he provided.

CORA disagrees

First and foremost an advocacy group, CORA believes that nature trails with proper design, implementation and management bring intrinsic value to a park and its surrounding community.

Carden's report brought solid disagreement from CORA, which was voiced in a prepared letter read before the Council committee.

"No credible body of evidence currently exists suggesting that off-road cycling causes greater trail erosion than hiking," CORA said. "Furthermore, a significant body of empirical, scientific evidence indicates that off-road cycling is no more damaging to natural trails than hiking. Thus, managers who prohibit bicycle use based on impacts to trails, soils, wildlife, or vegetation – all the while allowing hiking or equestrian use – are doing so without a foundation of factual scientific evidence."

Well-designed multi-use trails that are self-policed will tend to attract more legitimate users as well, CORA said.

"Legitimate users will report illegal activities to the proper authorities, as well as scare off elements that congregate towards secluded areas," CORA said.

CORA has well over 20 International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA)-certified trail builders in its group.

"Each CORA Trail Steward assigned to our area's off-road cycling trails has completed multiple IMBA Trailbuilding Schools to learn best, up-to-date practices for sustainable trail design and construction," CORA said. "Cincinnati has been the site for three IMBA Trailbuilding Schools in recent years. IMBA is a world leader in sustainable trail design."

Not a failure

Unlike Carden, CORA doesn't see its 1997 pilot project in Miles Edwards Park as a failure.

In fact, it used the committee hearing as an opportunity to give its side of the story.

Following the construction of one-third of a mile of trails, signs of sabotage began to show: Fishing line was strung between trees at neck height, railroad spikes were welded together and buried in the trail sharp side up, and trees were cut down to block the trail.

After cleaning up the traps and informing Cincinnati Parks, the traps reappeared, and CORA volunteers encountered a person who may have been behind the destruction.

"Two CORA volunteers encountered an individual whose erratic, threatening behavior and language made them believe that it was the person responsible for the damage," CORA said. "It was an individual who lived in the neighborhood adjacent to the park and it was evident that he was not an off-road cyclist, yet intent on keeping off-road cyclist out of the park with any means he felt necessary."

After learning the individual's name and address, they contacted the police.

The police informed CORA that the Parks Department needed to file the complaint because it was park property being destroyed," CORA said. "CORA submitted a request to the park managers to file the police complaint. CORA was informed that park managers did not witness the suspect committing the damage; therefore, the City of Cincinnati Parks would not file the complaint."

Rather than continue to send volunteers into possible danger – and lacking City support – CORA pulled out of the project.

CORA said that the project is the closest to "failure" that it has come in its 14 years, citing recent accomplishments such as trails in East Fork State Park, Caesar Creek State Park, Harbin Park in Fairfield, Mitchell Memorial Forest in Hamilton County's Miami Township, and Devou Park in Covington.

CORA said that it has the capacity to build the trails through volunteer work and the ability to operate and maintain them through fundraising events.

Time will tell if that ever comes to fruition.

"CORA only asks for administrative support from the land managers, as a successful multi-use trail system is only as strong as the working relationship CORA develops with the land manager," CORA said.

Previous "bicycling" stories on BC:
Mountain bikers expected to advocate before council committee (8/2/10)
Mount Washington resident questions mountain biking research (7/7/10)
Mountain biking not coming to Cincinnati parks (6/15/10)
New parking facilities required to provide bicycle parking (5/24/10)
Metro, TANK to offer free rides on Bike to Work Day (5/11/10)

No comments:

Newer Post Older Post Home

Recent Comments