Mountain bikers: Environmentally friendly, and (mostly) happy to share

Mountain biker Andrew Wilson said it's great excercise, a bit of an Adrenalin rush, and also a good way to get into nature.. Photo: Craig Souter
Mountain biker Andrew Wilson said it's great excercise, a bit of an Adrenalin rush, and also a good way to get into nature.. Photo: Craig Souter
A study from Griffith University has revealed the most common type of mountain biker. Andrew Wilson, 28, is a typical rider. Photo: Craig Souter

A study from Griffith University has revealed the most common type of mountain biker. Andrew Wilson, 28, is a typical rider. Photo: Craig Souter

Andrew Wilson is 28 year old, the manager of energy and sustainability for the University of Queensland, and is an avid mountain biker.

Wilson also happens to be typical of most mountain bikers in Queensland, according to new research by Griffith University.

The survey of 153 mountain bikers at Tewantin, Mapleton and Nerang national parks also found bikers are environmentally conscious, and happy to share trails with hikers and runners.

Wilson, who has been mountain biking for 15 years, said it makes sense for mountain bikers to be passionate about the environment.

"It gives you the ability to enjoy nature; to get out as see nature while also getting good exercise with a bit of adrenalin," he said.

Professor Catherine Pickering of Griffith's School of Environment said they were keen to find out how mountain bikers interacted with other park users, following research by others that found there was sometimes conflict.

"We found … mountain bikers were really happy with nearly all other users of the park," she said.

However Wilson, who is also the president of the South East Queensland Trail Alliance, said popular trails closer to urban centres often have high numbers of users which can make it hard to share.

"At some riding destinations there are conflicts, even between bikers, but it's all about utilisation," he said.

"As soon as you get an hour away from Brisbane to trails more infrequently used sharing makes a lot of sense," he said.

Wilson said part of the issue is the growing popularity of mountain biking as a hobby.

"The sport has grown so quickly in the last five, 10 years and the amount of trails hasn't kept up with the amount of riders," he said.

Besides the "great program" at Gap Creek, Mount Coot-Tha, Wilson said no other mountain biking activity is allowed in Brisbane City Council reserves.

Professor Pickering said the information collected in the study is important for exactly this reason: to show state and local governments "what was happening in Queensland National Parks".

"We were particularly interested in those mountain biking because they're one of the most common visitors of the parks," she said.

"We were really interested to get an idea of who goes mountain biking, why they go mountain biking and how they get on with other people and the news is basically good all round."

Both Professor Pickering and Wilson had ideas for reducing potential conflict between trail users.

"As always, maintaining minimum impact behaviour is good," said the professor, who rides and hikes herself.

"Being careful around corners, not going too fast when it's going to be hard for people to see."

She said making sure you're on the right sort of track is also important.

"If they're hiking only tracks don't go mountain biking, but if they're mountain biking tracks don't go hiking or running."

Wilson, also an "avid hiker", said dedicated mountain biking-only trails or hiking-only trails aren't good for mixed use anyway, and more biking only tracks would help ease issues in busy areas.

"We're really happy sharing and grateful for the access we have, but it is also important to recognise that in high usage areas the need for dedicated mountain biking trails is really important."

This story Mountain bikers: Environmentally friendly, and (mostly) happy to share first appeared on Brisbane Times.