This provides a brief view of the main
findings of this study. Additional summary sections precede each
of the Results sections (3-5). Discussion (Section 6) and Recommendations
(Section 7) sections review the main findings. Reference to these
summaries and the concluding sections is recommended for those
requiring only summary information. Closer reference to the main
Results text and the appendices may be required for those requiring
more detailed information.
(i) Mountain Bike Rider Characteristics
Riders are a distinct recreationist
group characterised by younger male participants with professional-type
backgrounds, an interest in `active' types of recreation, and
a high degree of club involvement. Activity levels and experience
levels amongst these riders are high, although experience (in
years) is limited since mountain biking is only a recent development.
(ii) Rider Setting and Experience
Rider responses indicated preference
for a variety of riding features, which are summarised in the
Summary Table (opposite). Riders demonstrated their diverse needs
through indicating a variety of activity preferences based upon
challenging riding, natural forested settings, single-track, speed
and excitement experiences, scenery, and general variety in riding
conditions. The emphasis placed on these, and other preferred
features varied with rider experience.
(iii) Rider Management Opinions
Riders accepted that some limits to
access were necessary, but considered that social and physical
impacts of mountain bikes were exaggerated. They considered self-regulation
to be the most appropriate form of access and behaviour management.
These attitudes generally grew stronger with greater rider experience.
(v) Management and Research Recommendations
This study generated a number of recommendations
for management and research. These are briefly summarised below,
and are discussed in more detail in Sections 6 and 7 of the report.
- Management Recommendations
- `core' track features which include
opportunities for exploring new areas, appreciating scenery and
nature, experiencing speed and excitement, native forest, undulating
route variety, some socialising with others, and around 2-3 hours
duration should be common elements to most tracks considered for
mountain bike access.
- Riding preferences change towards
more challenge and single-track riding with experience. Managers
need to apply Recreation Opportunity Spectrum concepts to mountain
biking to accomodate these changes.
- Management attention should focus
on high-use short tracks near population centres or roads, as
use by riderts and others is likely to peak in such areas..
- Prohibition of riding from more remote
and difficult tracks may be unecessary due to likely low use levels.
Occasional use could be considered acceptable.
- Interest in multi-day off-road routes
is likely to increase. A few key backcountry tracks will be most
suitable and highly preferred by riders. Managers of these tracks
should consider their place in the national spectrum of recreation
opportunities when deciding on access policy.
- Track maintenance features may be
located in a manner similar to road `judder-bars' to manage rider
behaviour where hazard potential exists, or where `managed difficulty'
is being used to keep rider numbers low.
- Occasions of excessive rider speed
are likely to be an ongoing problem, and managers should encourage
rider self-regulation, along with taking steps to minimise hazard
situations (e.g. using `managed difficulty').
- Consultation with riders and other
track users should be undertaken throughout the processes of deciding
riding access and use issues.
- Research Recommendations
- Complementary studies of other rider
samples would assist in the definition of different rider categories,
and in the range of their setting and experience preferences.
- Research on the nature and variation
of walker perceptions of mountain biking should be undertaken
to assist in better determining `bike-sensitive' users, and key
elements in the conflicts perceived.
- Longitudunal research on any changes
in conflict perceptions over time as walker and manager familiarity
with mountain biking increases will be an important topic to assist
in longer term planning.
- The assumption that more experienced
riders will be more responsible in their riding behaviour needs
to be tested. This assumption is the basis for calls for first
reliance on rider self-regulation. This would represent an evaluation
of self-regulation as a possible strategy.
- Research to identify trends in the
patterns of rider characteristics, preferences and behaviour will
be required to assist prediction of rider demand for settings
and experiences as the activity `matures'.
- Identification of those key tracks
most valued by riders for mutli-day riding trips will be important
if opportunities are to be provided for these experiences.
- Research should be considered on the
way rider behaviour may change when obstacles and track difficulties
are used to moderate rider behaviour or limit use. This would
represent an evaluation of the effectiveness of `managed difficulty'
as a possible strategy.
- Comparative research on the relative
physical impacts of mountain bikes and walkers will be required
to address the physical impact component of recreation conflicts.
- The nature of hazard perceptions and
the actual risks associated with mountain biking require more
investigation. This would help managers identify where real hazards
occur, and cases where they are actually dealing with perceived
rather than real risks.