Off-Road Mountain Biking: A profile of participants, setting and preferences, by Gordan Cessford, 1995
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5. RESULTS - Attitudes to Opinion Statements

SUMMARY: 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.

- Riders indicated that they considered riding should be acceptable on most walking tracks, but that exceptions on impact-sensitive tracks and busy walker tracks were inevitable and would require some management controls. However they considered that impacts and hazards to walkers from mountain biking were over-estimated, and that a combination of irresponsible riders and some un-informed walkers exaggerated the conflict potential.

- Riders indicated that views, scenery and nature experiences were important to their riding enjoyment. They also indicated that experiencing speed, action and excitement were important, and this preference increased with experience.

- Riders acknowledged that some limitations to riding access would be necessary They considered self-regulation through voluntary codes of behaviour and information provision would reduce conflicts. Having specified times of access was seen as being a more effective mangement option than zoning different areas for different uses. There were some riders opposed to both.

5.1 Overall Attitude Responses

Riders were asked to indicate the degree to which they agreed or disagreed with a number of `opinion' statements on management issues. Table 5.1 summarises the overall agreement of all riders with the statements listed.

Table 5.1: Rider responses to different opinion statements

OPINION STATEMENTS

(read % across)

Strongly Disagree
Tend to Disagree

Neutral
Tend to Agree
Strongly Agree
CONFLICT OPINIONS
Mountain bikes should be allowed anywhere they can be ridden

Mountain bikes should not be allowed on walking tracks

Mountain-biking is compatible with walking on tracks

Some walking tracks are unsuitable for riding - many walkers

Danger to walkers from Mountain-bikes is over-estimated

A few irresponsible riders cause most problems

A few un-informed walkers imagine most problems

14

16

3

3

2

0

0
32

42

16

9

12

2

5
19

20

22

8

23

8

30
23

17

43

50

44

42

45
11

4

16

30

19

48

20
IMPACT OPINIONS
Some walking tracks are unsuitable for riding - easily damaged

Environmental damage by Mountain-bikes is over-estimated

4

1
12

8
17

22
44

38
24

31
EXPERIENCE OPINIONS
Views/scenery/nature are not essential for my riding enjoyment

Speed/action/excitement are not essential for my riding enjoyment

46

46
32

33
10

8
10

10
3

3
MANAGEMENT OPINIONS
Information on other places to ride would reduce conflicts

Responsible riding and good attitude would reduce conflicts

Riders must have voluntary codes of behaviour (safety/impact)

Access to some riding areas will sometimes need to be limited

Access should be sometimes limited to specified days/seasons

Zoning different areas for riding and walking would work

If biking tracks were designated, riders would stick to them

0

0

0

5

13

6

6
5

1

2

13

16

23

35
9

5

8

24

15

28

24
47

44

33

43

42

33

29
39

50

57

14

14

9

6


Rider responses indicate a general desire to use walking tracks for riding. They considered this was a compatible activity, but they did acknowledge that there were some places where riding would be unsuitable due to potential physical impacts. While indicating this, they also considered that the impacts of bikes were generally over-estimated. The negative social perceptions of mountain biking often expressed by other track users were attributed to a combination of an uninformed view of the activity, and the actions of a few irresponsible riders.

A strong preference for carrying out riding in attractive natural settings was indicated. And a requirement for exciting and challenging experiences in riding was also emphasised. This suggests that limiting riding experiences to peripheral or sub-standard natural areas would be in conflict with the reality of rider demands. Also, that providing access to routes which do not provide some opportunities for speed and challenge would also be inadequate.

Preferences for the management of riding emphasised reliance on a high degree of self-discipline and good sense. While self-regulation was considered the most preferable approach, riders did generally acknowledge that some limits were required. Opinions on seasonal and spatial zoning options were split, and a considerable number of riders considered that regulations, if imposed, would not always be adhered to. It could be presumed that this non-compliance with controls would be at sites where such controls were considered un-reasonable.

5.2 Changes in Attitude Responses with Experience

These opinion responses were not always consistent for riders of different experience levels. Table 5.2 presents those statements where differences were apparent, and these differences are described below.

(i) Mountain bikes should not be allowed on walking tracks

Few riders agreed with being kept off walking tracks (Table 5.1), and disagreement increased with rider experience (52% for beginners to 75% for experts).

(ii) Mountain biking is compatible with walking on tracks

Most riders agreed that riding was compatible with walking, and this opinion of riding compatibility increased with greater experience levels (44% for beginners to 64% for experts). This included 2% of beginners, and 30% experts who strongly agreed that riding was compatible. Between 20-30% considered riding incompatible with walking, with much of the remaining response being neutral.

(iii) Danger to walkers from mountain bikes is over-estimated

Many riders amongst beginners were neutral on this statement (39%), although rider agreement did increase with greater experience (42% for beginners to 72% for experts). This suggested that more experienced riders felt that their levels of responsibility and riding control were higher than non-riders believed. The more uncertain opinions of beginner riders may reflect their experience of mountain biking being little different from that of non-riders. This suggests that greater experience in riding, which represents greater familiarity with actual riding skills, conditions and encounters, results in increasing perceptions by riders that they do not represent a real hazard.

(iv) A few irresponsible riders cause most problems

Most riders agreed with this statement, and the agreement was stronger amongst the more experienced riders. This suggests that riders are aware that they have an `image-problem', and that they attribute it to inappropriate behaviour by some riders. This also suggests that riders are aware that there are some aspects of riding behaviour which are not acceptable. There would appear to be considerable potential to encourage self-regulation in rider behaviour.

(v) Environmental damage by mountain bikes is over-estimated

Most riders agreed that environmental damage from riding was exaggerated (Table 5.1), and this opinion became stronger with experience (43% for beginners to 83% experts). Few riders disagreed, with the most of the remaining response being neutral (44% for beginners). These results suggest that although riders acknowledge that some areas are susceptible to damage by bikes, this is not the case for all areas. Rider responses suggest that they would generally consider riding limitations imposed on the basis of physical impacts to be unjustified in many cases.

(vi) Views/scenery/nature are not essential to my riding enjoyment

The majority of riders disagreed strongly with the statement that scenery and nature were not important for their riding (Table 5.1). This disagreement did decline with experience (91% of beginners to 68% of experts), but the overall desire for scenery and nature was still very high. This decline may reflect the race-entry origin of the sample, where some expert riders may be concentrating more upon the competitive aspects of their riding. However, the overall preference for riding in natural settings is emphasised here.

(vii) Speed/action/excitement are not essential for my riding enjoyment

Few riders agreed that experiencing speed and excitement was not essential for their riding enjoyment (Table 5.1). Notable agreement with this statement was only apparent amongst beginners (36% compared with 10% for experts). It does appear that these speed/action/excitement experiences are a requirement of satisfying riding experiences for most riders. This represents a problem, as it is the non-rider perception of hazard by speeding bikes which is a common source of conflict. More investigation on the role played by speed-related demands in riding experiences is necessary.

(viii) Access to some riding areas will sometimes need to be limited

This statement was included to determine rider acknowledgement that some limits to access would be needed. The results showed that most riders accepted that some limits were necessary, or were at least neutral on the issue. Only 18% overall indicated they did not agree with the need for some access limits (Table 5.1). There was some variation across experience levels (Table 5.2), with beginners most positive toward some regulation (71% compared with 56% of experts). Disagreement increased with greater experience (7% for beginners to 24% for experts). Overall however, results indicate rider acknowledgement that some limitations will be required.

Table 5.2: Differences in Responses for Different Experience Levels (read % across)

OPINION STATEMENTS
StronglyDisagree
Tend to Disagree
Neutral
Tend to Agree
Strongly Agree
NOTES
* Not allowed on walking tracks

- Beginner

- Moderately experienced

- Have much experience

- Expert/very experienced


7

12

16

25

45

38

43

43

24

25

18

18

20

21

18

11

4

4

5

2
Most riders disagreed, this increased with experience. Many were neutral or agreed, but were a minority.
* Biking is compatible with walking

- Beginner

- Moderately experienced

- Have much experience

- Expert/very experienced


0

6

2

4

25

15

17

17

31

26

19

21

42

44

46

34

2

9

16

30
Riders agreed more with experience.
* Bike danger to walkers is over-estimated

- Beginner

- Moderately experienced

- Have much experience

- Expert/very experienced


0

2

2

1

18

16

9

11

39

24

22

16

35

44

47

42

7

14

20

30
Riders agreed more with experience.
* Irresponsible riders cause most problems

- Beginner

- Moderately experienced

- Have much experience

- Expert/very experienced


0

0

1

0

4

3

2

2

6

10

7

9

65

43

37

37

26

44

53

52
Most riders agreed. Little variation with experience.
* Damage by bikes is over-estimated

- Beginner

- Moderately experienced

- Have much experience

- Expert/very experienced


0

0

1

1

13

7

9

5

44

31

17

11

37

39

38

36

6

23

35

47
Riders agreed more with experience
* Views/scenery/nature not essential

- Beginner

- Moderately experienced

- Have much experience

- Expert/very experienced


58

47

45

37

33

32

32

31

4

11

9

14

3

7

11

14

2

3

2

4
Riders disagreed less with experience. Beginners disagreed much more than experts.
* Speed/action/excitement not essential

- Beginner

- Moderately experienced

- Have much experience

- Expert/very experienced


25

50

47

48

27

32

37

29

11

9

5

13

25

7

8

9

11

2

2

1
Most riders disagreed with this. Experienced riders disagreed more strongly than beginners, who included a many that agreed with this.
* Some access limits will be needed

- Beginner

- Moderately experienced

- Have much experience

- Expert/very experienced


2

3

5

10

5

15

13

14

20

30

25

20

55

41

43

40

18

10

14

16
Most riders agreed, but this agreement was lower amongst the experienced riders.


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