A. The Challenges Faced by Multiple-Use Trail Managers
How to pass other users (from ahead and behind) in the least intrusive ways possible should be examined. How to alert other users and when to do so should be examined from the perspective of the person being passed. This applies to passing other types of users or passing people engaged in the same activity.
What are the stopping distances and safe operating speeds of various trail travel modes under various trail conditions? These data could be used to better establish or justify safe operating speeds and speed limits.
It has been suggested that bells be supplied on new bikes as standard equipment (Kulla 1991). How accepted are bells by trail bicyclists? Are bells effective safety equipment when used? How should bikers be instructed to use bells to alert others of their intention to pass? Would a new, more stylish bell design (or other sound-making device) encourage more riders to install and use them? Would some other sound-making device be more effective or accepted?
A "Statement of Principles Concerning Multi-Use Recreational Trails by Non-Motorized Users" (as presented in Keller 1990, 39) calls on Federal and State land management agencies to "undertake a cooperative research project to comprehensively analyze the impact of different users on different types of trails and other users, together with the development of a handbook on trail design practices that can help accommodate multiple user types" (Keller 1990).
Guidelines and procedures for assessing environmental impact and public safety in an objective way are called for by Keller (1990). The Visitor Impact Management (VIM) (Graefe, Kuss, and Vaske 1990) and Limits of Acceptable Change (LAC) (Stankey, Cole, and Lucas 1985) approaches would be excellent flameworks to apply to trail environments. Test applications of these approaches should be undertaken for trail systems of different types in different parts of the country.
More research and experimentation on the merits of dispersed versus concentrated use should be undertaken (Cole 1986). Experiments comparing these two strategies for trails are needed to better understand the relationship between trail use levels and impacts.
Better ways to actually measure and evaluate conflicts, as well as satisfaction, are needed. Meaningful comparisons across studies will not be possible until more valid and reliable instruments are available. Measurement tools more in line with the definition proposed by Jacob and Schreyer (1980) would be most helpful (Watson et al. in press).
We need to understand how recreationists go about determining how satisfied they are with a certain experience. In particular, how and to what extent are their feelings and emotions attributable to the product, the individual, and the situation (Williams 1988).
Studies that determine the types of experiences different types of users are seeking would be useful to managers as they attempt to provide opportunities for those experiences. For example, are the users of a particular park more interested in solitude or challenge on the trails?
What are the norms (standards of behavior) of various trail groups? How consistent and stable are these norms among participants in various activities and within various geographic trail areas? How different are these norms among conflicting groups? We cannot effectively attempt to modify behavior or influence norms until we have a better understanding of just what each group considers to be inappropriate behavior in various situations. How are the normative "rules" for trail areas established (Owens 1985)?
Substituting another site or activity is thought to be a common coping strategy employed by trail users who experience conflict. More research, especially leading to improved theory, is needed on recreation substitution.
What factors are most important to how sensitive a trail user is to conflict -- individual differences, situational factors, or activity influences?
Do individuals and groups that are experiencing conflict perceive trail areas and the purposes of these areas differently? In what ways?
Existing theoretical models of what causes conflict need to be better tested so that managers can understand and thereby anticipate conflict before it becomes entrenched (Owens 1985).
What is the relationship between satisfaction (and conflict) and the density of other users? Is the behavior of other trail users more important than the number of others on the trail (Owens 1985)?
Research involving long-term monitoring of areas is needed to see if conflict is really distinct from crowding. Owens (1985) suggests that this would be best undertaken in intensively used areas where some users are dependent upon that particular resource.
More research should examine the relative importance of social and psychological aspects of conflict versus the physical aspects (e.g., competition for resources) of conflict.
What psychological processes take place when the normative "rules" of an area are broken (Owens 1985)?
A better understanding of the coping strategies trail users employ is needed. What are these strategies; how and when are they triggered? How can we better predict displacement, substitution, and dissatisfaction caused by conflict so we can manage accordingly?
Coping strategies to reduce conflict are thought to change the recreation experience for those needing to employ them. What are these changes, and how do they occur?
More studies of conflict are needed in nonwilderness and nonbackcountry locations.
Who are the most conflict-sensitive users, and what makes them different from others (Owens 1985)?
What is happening to the most conflict-sensitive users? Are they being displaced, accepting second-rate places and times, or staying and having less satisfying experiences (Owens 1985)?
Studies of the long-term users of an area might be revealing. Are they continuing to use the area because they are the most tolerant and are experiencing little conflict, or are they experiencing high conflict and are just unwilling to substitute other times or places (Owens 1985)?
To what extent is conflict related to personal characteristics, level of commitment, and level of experience (Owens 1985)?
Better research should be conducted regarding the durability of different trail surface materials.
More research into the best ways to control and repair erosion is needed along with a better understanding of how to protect and restore vegetation. Important criteria for all these techniques are that they be natural-looking, safe, and as unobtrusive as possible.
How are speeds and use patterns affected by different trail widths, surfaces, shoulders, signs, etc.? For example, what are the best widths for greenways in various environments and at various expected use levels?
A thorough review of American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) standards should be conducted to determine if they can be improved to avoid and reduce trail-user conflicts more effectively.
Better empirical data on the behavior of trail users is needed to improve design and safety standards. Some of these could be modeled after studies conducted by the auto industry.
Continued advances in reducing noise and pollution levels of motorized trail vehicles are needed.
Better ways to provide information to users early in their trips and during their trip-planning process should be developed. Computerized systems should be considered for this purpose (Roggenbuck and Ham 1986).
We need to improve our understanding of users' characteristics, behavior, and information needs.
This will aid in the development of information programs (Roggenbuck and Ham 1986).
Who are the users within each user group who are most in need of behavior changes? Which users are most likely to be uninformed or commit unintentional, unskilled, or careless acts that lead to conflict?
What are the characteristics of "renegade" users, and how can they best be targeted and reached?
What are the best ways to break down false impressions different user groups often hold of one another? How can we get users to appreciate (or try) activities that are new to them?
Research on the extent of crossover among different trail activities is needed. Watson, Williams, and Daigle (1991) found that mountain bike riders in certain parts of the Rattlesnake National Recreation Area were similar to hikers in many respects. Determining the similarities among different user groups and documenting the extent to which trail users participate in multiple trail activities could ease "us and them" feelings and reduce conflict.
How can manufacturers of trail-related equipment and supplies be encouraged to become more involved in education programs, resolving conflicts, and helping to address other trail issues? Is a bike shop or manufacturer "tax" on new mountain bikes or a license fee feasible and acceptable (Kulla 1991)?
More uniform trail ethics or etiquette guidelines should be developed (Kulla 1991). The perspectives of all major user groups need to be considered when drafting these.
Case studies should be conducted comparing approaches and conditions between areas where conflict has been avoided (or managed well) and areas experiencing severe problems with user conflict. Such research could begin to objectively identify promising approaches and favorable conditions for successful trail sharing.
Conflict resolution and conflict avoidance success stories for multiple-use trails should be better documented and publicized.
Chavez, Winter, and Baas (1993) suggest a national exchange of ideas among land managers to help establish what works regarding mountain bike management in various areas and under various conditions.
How effective would various professional conflict resolution and binding arbitration techniques be in cases of intense conflicts between user groups in particular areas?
What are the long-term participation patterns of trail users in terms of frequency, types of trips, and activities? How common is it for users to change activities over time?
What are the trends in terms of trail activities and patterns of use? What will be the most popular activities at various points in the future? What new activities are emerging that managers will need to plan for?
What are the best ways to anticipate how popular particular emerging trail activities will become? What are the best ways to predict the levels and types of use particular trails will receive?
1. Report No.: FHWA-PD-94-031 2. Government Accession No.: N/A 3. Recipient's Catalog No.: N/A 4. Title and Subtitle: Conflicts on Multiple-Use Trails: Synthesis of the Literature and State of the Practice 5. Report Date: August 1994 6. Performing Organization Code: N/A 7. Author(s): Roger L. Moore 8. Performing Organization Report No.: N/A 9. Performing Organization Name and Address: North Carolina State University Dept. of Parks, Recreation, & Tourism Mgmt. Box 8004 Raleigh, NC 27695-8004 10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS): N/A 11. Contract or Grant No.: DTFH61-93-P-1628 12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address: Federal Highway Administration Intermodal Division (HEP-50) 400 Seventh St. SW Washington, D.C. 20590 13. Type of Report and Period Covered: N/A 14. Sponsoring Agency Code: N/A 15. Supplementary Notes: N/A 16. Abstract: The National Recreational Trails Advisory Committee identified trail-user conflicts on multiple-use trails as a major concern that needs resolution. The Committee asked the Federal Highway Administration to produce a synthesis of the existing research to foster understanding of trail conflict, identify approaches for promoting trail-sharing, and identify gaps in current knowledge. 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. The goal of the report is to promote user safety, protect natural resources, and provide high-quality user experiences. It reviews management options such as trail design, information and education, user involvement, and regulations and enforcement. Trail conflicts can occur among different user groups, among different users within the same user group, and as a result of factors not related to trail user activities at all. Conflict has been found to be related to activity, style, focus of trip, expectations, attitudes toward and perceptions of the environment, level of tolerance for others, and different norms held by different users. The report provides 12 principles for minimizing conflicts on multiple-use trails. Although this report is about conflicts on trails, it is intended to promote cooperation and understanding among trail users and to inspire ideas that will help reduce trail conflict. It is intended to be used by trail managers, State and local trail coordinators, researchers, and trail-user volunteer organizations. 17. Key Words: Multiple-use; Trail Conflict; Trail Management; Trail Sharing; Recreation; Motorized; Nonmotorized 18. Distribution Statment: No Restrictions 19. Security Classif. (of this report): Unclassified 20. Security Classif. (of this page): Unclassified 21. No. of Pages: 70 22. Price: N/A Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized