filed under: user management
A Publication of the Journal of Environmental Management (2002)
Tens of millions of North Americans and Europeans own mountain bikes and millions of them are avid trail riders. The growing popularity of mountain biking in many areas has led to increased trail degradation and conflicts among users on single track. This study could be used as a template to estimate benefits and costs to other users (hikers and equestrians), a critical component of any analysis of the types of policies managers must consider.
Estimating the Benefits and Costs to Mountain Bikers of Changes in Trail Characteristics
Mountain biking is an increasingly popular leisure pursuit. Consequences are trail degradation and conflicts with hikers and other users. Resource managers often attempt to resolve these problems by closing trails to mountain biking. In order to estimate the impact of these developments, a model has been devised that predicts the effects of changes in trail characteristics and introduction of access fees, and correlates these with biker preference on trail selection. It estimates each individual’s per-ride consumer’s surplus associated with implementing different policies. The surplus varies significantly as a function of each individual’s gender, budget, and interest in mountain biking. Estimation uses stated preference data, specifically choice experiments. Hypothetical mountain bike trails were created and each surveyed biker was asked to make five pair-wise choices. A benefit-transfer simulation is used to show how the model and parameter estimates can be transferred to estimate the benefits and costs to mountain bikers in a specific area.
Experiments were designed to estimate how mountain bikers would value changes in the characteristics of trails. The mountain bikers in our sample displayed reasonable and plausible behavior while choosing between pairs of hypothetical sites. The estimated parameters indicate more single-track is preferred, so is banning other users. Fees, by themselves, would be unwelcome. Trail difficulty is appreciated, but only up to a point. The consumer surplus estimates varied across bikers quite plausibly in terms of household budget, gender and interest in mountain biking. Willingness to pay is a function of income and interest in mountain biking.
The results suggest that significant numbers of bikers would be willing to pay an access fee for improved conditions; the amount would depend on the number of substitute sites and the trail characteristics and fees, if any, at those sites.
Published September 10, 2001
This synthesis is intended to establish a baseline of the current state of knowledge and practice and to serve as a guide for trail managers and researchers.
This study offers direction for future studies on mountain bike riding, including: characteristics of mountain bike riders and their use patterns, identification of resource degradation problems, identification and resolution of conflict issues, wilderness trespass issues, partnership issues, communication issues, and testing of management strategies related to mountain bike use.
This guidebook can be used to assist in successfully planning, designing, and constructing mountain bike trail systems, while keeping in mind that user issues must be addressed at every stage of development.
This guidance has been created to help mountain bikers and land managers understand different perspectives on this issue, in the context of the Scottish access rights, and to suggest ways in which they can work together and try where possible to find solutions.