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Trail Etiquette ?
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Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Trail Etiquette; horses, bikes? on 11/26/2006 03:03:13 MST Print View

> however, I have to question the wisdom of your postings.
Frankly, given the way my comments have been twisted out of context, so do I.

> This type of action simply needed condeming by you. Instead, you went on to offer an alternative tactic to anyone who cared to read your post, namely that a lower chain might have been better.
That is not what I meant. I meant that it would have been better for all concerned if whoever had done the illegal and reprehesible activity had thought a bit more and chosen a less lethal approach. This does NOT mean that I advocated any of these approaches. I had hoped this meaning would be obvious.

As others have pointed out, tempers were getting very heated in the area about the illegal activities of the riders. It would been prudent for the Police to have foreseen the obvious probability and danger of vigilante action and clamped down on the bike problem before it escalated into violence. Sadly, the authorities didn't bestir themselves soon enough.

> As a police officer who has dealt with numerous collisions involving motorcyles and witnessing first hand the horrific injuries that riders can suffer
I understand your concern. I rode a motor bike for many years, and I am equally aware of the hazards.

To repeat, finally: I was NOT advocating any vigilante action. I was regretting that those who took vigilante action had not thought through the consequences of their actions.

Scott Ashdown
(waterloggedwellies) - F

Locale: United Kingdom
Trail Etiquette; horses, bikes? on 11/29/2006 16:50:46 MST Print View


To suggest that I have twisted your comments almost implies a malicious act on my part. This is not the case. If your intentions were misunderstood it is because they were unclear.

As indicated in a previous post, I felt that there was absolutely no room for ambiguity when it came to condemming tactics designed at dismounting motorcyclists.

You have indicated that what you meant by your earlier post was, 'it would have been better for all concerned if whoever had done the illegal and reprehesible activity had thought a bit more and chosen a less lethal approach.' Less lethal to me would have been for those concerned to have made complaints to the police, local authorities, politicians, petitions etc so your original mention of a 'chain' seemed far from a condemnation. If you simply wished to indicate your regret that those responsible had not 'thought through the consequences of their actions', you should simply have said so. There was no reason to mention a chain at all.

However, I am pleased that you have now clarified your position concerning wires and chains by stating that you do not advocate either. Thank you.

David [Couch]

I still don't understand your reference to Rogers words in his original post being a 'joke' as that would imply an attempt at humour. However, whilst I don't think Rogers original words were the most appropriate to use, he has at least now clarified his position.

Thank you both.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Trail Etiquette; horses, bikes? on 11/29/2006 17:17:16 MST Print View


Until now, it hadn't sunk in that you are posting from the UK. My mistake...

I'm wondering if we are talking about the same thing, though. I think most of the outrage here is about motorized "trail bikes" used on trails open to hikers. I suspect that isn't very common, if even very possible, in the UK.

Obviously, hikers and motorized vehicles sharing a trail is a dangerous situation, particularly for the hikers. That doesn't even address the aesthetic issue -- for me, hiking on a trail with motorbikes whizzing by is about as pleasant as hiking through rush-hour traffic in Los Angeles would be.

In nearly all of the U.S., motorbikes and other ORVs (like those four-wheeler things and snowmachines) don't require any operator licensing or certification at all. In quite a few states laws against operating a vehicle while intoxicated don't apply either. Imagine how that makes me feel about sharing a trail with someone operating one of these machines. [a correction -- most states, it seems, now consider an ORV to be a vehicle for the purpose of a DUI].

Edited by david_bonn on 11/29/2006 17:45:45 MST.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Re: Trail Etiquette on 11/29/2006 17:25:59 MST Print View

Joke or not- I have a story. Mine's not a joke.

I am an avid backpacker, mountain biker, climber, paddler (canoe), and snowshoer. But I also own a snowmobile and a Husqvarna motorcycle. You see I was raised internal combustion, although I ended up preferring quieter means of enjoying the backcountry.

My father was a serious off road motorcycle rider. He raced enduro, desert, the whole bit. And when I was a kid (I learned to ride a motorcycle at 2- an Indian with training wheels), we used to go camping in the motorhome with a bunch of my dad's friends. One was Jerry.

Jerry was the only guy who could keep up with my dad. At races, they would always push each other to the limit. Jerry's son and I would ride together too while our dads went riding- real offroad chums. But while my dad mellowed his racing when he had kids and we stuck to trail riding (which eventually led to my mountain biking) Jerry and his son kept going. They always raced.

Then Jerry went for one of the big ones. Can't remember which- the Baja 500 or some thing- I think it was in California but I don't remember. My dad talked about it with stars in his eyes, wishing that he were there. But Jerry never finished. Someone had strung a wire between two trees up a gully somewhere that the course officials missed and Jerry died the same way it was mentioned in this thread.

When I read the posts earlier it made me sick, physically, and brought back thoughts of Jerry from when I was a kid. He was a wonderful guy.

Any vigilante "justice" proposed here is just awful. And a joke to me it is not. Human life is too precious, no matter the form of chosen recreation nor how it done, legal or not.

Doug the Polaris/Husqvarna/Specialized/Karhu/Gossamer Gear/Northern Lites/Cassin/Wenonah using outdoor lover

Scott Ashdown
(waterloggedwellies) - F

Locale: United Kingdom
Re: Re: Trail Etiquette; horses, bikes? on 11/30/2006 08:25:47 MST Print View

David [Bonn],

Yep, i'm on this side of the pond here in the UK. It is impossible for me to say how the UK compares to the US regarding the problem of motor cycle or 'Trail bike' use on trails as I have never been there. I would love to go, I just haven't managed it yet.

I was refering to the same thing, i.e. 'Trailbikes' although I know I used the terms 'Motorcycle' and 'Motorbike' instead.

I wouldn't say it was a HUGE problem here, certainly not in some of our more remote wilderness areas but it does crop up on trails from time to time, particulary on trails within close riding proximity to residential areas. We even have trail bikes on our footpaths and through our parks as well.

Recently the government here introduced powers to enable police officers to seize mechanically propelled vehicles such as trail bikes, if they were being used in an anti social manner. This has helped improve safety here and reduce community anger at the annoyance that trail bikes can cause when used at inappropriate locations or times.

I agree with you, having trailbikes whizzing about is unpleasant.

Many police forces here now have 'police' off road trail bikes to enable officers to catch up with these inconsiderate trail users. I am also aware of locally organised police schemes where young people stopped with trail bikes are diverted into police run activities that teach young people how to ride safely and service their bikes etc. Arranegments are also entered into with local landowners to set aside land where the bikes can be used in a safe environment to prevent hikers and trailbike riders coming into contact.

I am sure there are other similar schemes around the world.


A terrible story to hear about your fathers friend. I agree with the sentiments that you have expressed.

Regards to you both.

Edited by waterloggedwellies on 11/30/2006 08:38:13 MST.

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Re: Re: Trail Etiquette; horses, bikes? on 11/30/2006 11:17:21 MST Print View

>I wouldn't say it was a HUGE problem here, certainly not in some of our more remote wilderness areas but it does crop up on trails from time to time

Last winter in Colorado, a dozen snowmobilers high-pointing in a designated wilderness area triggered an avalance. Two died.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Trail Etiquette; horses, bikes? on 12/01/2006 02:06:59 MST Print View

Hi Scott

> 'malicious act'? No way! Sorry if you thought I meant that!
But you did seem to have missed my intent, which was to highlight what can go wrong when one group is allowed to break the law too long and threaten the safety of others.

> Less lethal to me would have been for those concerned to have made complaints to the police, local authorities, politicians, petitions
I think you missed the point here of what I had been saying - maybe I was not very clear or simply abbreviated too much. Fair enough.

The locals had been complaining very loudly about the serious safety hazard represented by the bikies for a long time, but the Police and other authorities had done nothing. The vigilante action only happened after about a year or more of complete failure to act, when endangered locals finally took the law into their own hands. Yes, I agree this is an undesirable thing, but it DOES happen when people are pushed too far.

I agree that the person(s) who strung the wire bore the primary responsibility, but I also say the local Police and other authorities bore a secondary responsibility for the death by failing to act. What more could the locals have done: taken out a writ of mandamus?

Mind you, I reckon the bikies also bore a responsibility for acting in such a sustained illegal manner. It was their sustained breaking of the law which created the situation in the first place.

Shall we agree that all three parties came out of the incident badly tarnished?

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Trail Etiquette; horses, bikes? on 12/01/2006 02:41:42 MST Print View

Roger, it's been my experience and i am of the opinion that the defective mentality of the masses (certain more moral individuals excepting)is that...

when a law is not enforced, [they feel] that a law is not in effect [meaning that it is just as *IF* no such law was passed] and therefore such a law can be ignored.

too many only fear the "sword", so to speak, (i.e., the potential personal consequences of their actions - if they even think of such) and have a purely selfish and self-centered outlook (or is it an "inlook" in this case of "self") - BTW, a focus purely on oneself, w/o consideration of other's needs/benefit is a well known characteristic of a young, immature child and sadly, many youths, and, IMHO, unfortunately, a growing number of adults. I've read that some psychologists consider only 25% of the adult population of the USA to meet the most basic definition of behaviorily "mature" - guess, this 25% figure speaks volumes about us adults.

i have law enforcement in my (non-immediate) family (a sister's husband). they are overworked, underappreciated, criticized by the general public and the Press no matter what decision they make in a difficult situation, and some, and this is no excuse, are just plain worn out from what they have to deal with each and every working day. others (fortunately very rare) find more glory and reputation/career enhancment in NOT preventing a crime, but in apprehending a criminal - sad, but on that very rare occasion true.

you are right about the incident you describe. there is enough blame to go around. even those NOT directly involved might ask themselves, "is there anything i could have done to prevent this?", or "could i have done more to possibly prevent this?", or "can i do anything to help prevent it from happening again?"

passing no judgement here on anyone , just expressing questions that i have posed to myself on various occasions over the years.

Edited by pj on 12/01/2006 02:50:53 MST.

Lyndall McComb
(lyndallmac) - F

Locale: Australia
Re: Trail Etiquette ? on 12/11/2006 16:46:36 MST Print View

I have had to camp on a trail once before when my group (after being given incorrect directions from a ranger of all people), ended up off course by several kms and had to make as emergency camp before darkness fell. There brush was literally so thick we had no option but to camp on the trail. Sounds like your situation was completely different though. If you approached them the right way they would have got the message without too much of a 'confrontation'. Some people really do have no idea though.....

Steven Hanlon
(asciibaron) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
misuse of trails on 01/05/2007 13:22:08 MST Print View

when i'm on a trail that is for hikers only and come across a biker or horseback rider, i will stop them, take out my map and act lost. i start off by suggesting that i thought i was here (points at map on nearby multi-use trail). usually the offender will point out the correct trail, use it's name, and then look at me funny.

that's usually when they notice that i work for the park service. i am not law enforcement, so i just "clue" them in and go about my business. i've only summoned an officer once - the same biker passed me a second time. he was ticketed and fined and then arrest for an outstanding warrant.


Edited by asciibaron on 01/05/2007 13:23:12 MST.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
TEL'EM! on 01/18/2007 09:21:46 MST Print View

As one who appreciates B-C solitude I have told people on ATV's that they were on a restricted, walking-only trail and politely asked them to turn around. The 1st ATV guys sneered, told me I wasn't a ranger and roared on.
The next time the group was more adult and respectfully apologised and turned around.

As a Nordic ski patrollar I had to chase renegade snowmobilers off our trails as well as skiers with dogs (!). Then I had the authority and had to use it, but always with courtesy, or when that failed, resolute firmness.

I believe you should politely inform people of their "misbehavior". Then, if they persist in it you know they are acting not out of ignorance but stupidity.

Edited by Danepacker on 01/18/2007 09:28:48 MST.