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Survey

2021

Conflicts are an increasingly explosive topic in outdoor sport news. It is important for IMBA Switzerland to objectify these discussions. We ask ourselves the following questions:

  •  – Where do conflicts actually take place?

  •  – With whom do conflicts arise?

  •  – And what can be done about it?

 

We addressed these topics in our first survey in spring 2021. We were able to collect replies from 1.170 respondents and a total of 19.509 years of mountain biking experience.

 

The results show that conflicts exist, but can also be solved. The statements of the participants speak clearly for a better representation of interests and the exchange with other trail users. The participating bikers care about their sport and we are happy to represent them in a bottom-up approach. However, we have not yet been able to pick up inexperienced bikers as desired.

The IMBA Switzerland recognizes for itself the mission to promote communication and understanding for and on mountain bike infrastructure.

 

In the following we have prepared 19,509 years of biking experience for you

Who is biking?

Demographics

With 77% going biking at least once a week, and 57% even going several times a week, cycling is more than just a second sport for many.

 

The riding level reflects the many years of biking experience: many know what they are doing on the bike. However, it also shows that beginners could not be reached enough, although they are an important target group. This may be due to the fact that they are usually not connected well in the community or are part of a bike organization, yet. It is our concern to be able to represent them better in the future. However, those who are once addicted to the sport are likely to remain loyal to it for a long time and practice it frequently. 14% use the E-MTB most often.

How do we practice the sport?

With 77% going biking at least once a week, and 57% even going several times a week, cycling is more than just a second sport for many.

 

The riding level reflects the many years of biking experience: many know what they are doing on the bike. However, it also shows that beginners could not be reached enough, although they are an important target group. This may be due to the fact that they are usually not connected well in the community or are part of a bike organization, yet. It is our concern to be able to represent them better in the future. However, those who are once addicted to the sport are likely to remain loyal to it for a long time and practice it frequently. 14% use the E-MTB most often.

What do we want?

The most popular segments, All Mountain and Enduro, show the need for natural and challenging terrain on our tours. CC and Tour complement the popularity of natural roads and easy to intermediate trails. Gravity oriented expressions, such as freeride and downhill, are not strongly represented, but should not be forgotten in the offer design!

 

The most important motive for biking is landscape and nature, closely followed by fun, fitness and adventure. In contrast to 55% who see the going down experience as a motive for biking, riding uphill is only one of the most important reasons for biking for 24%. 

Biking in Switzerland

Where do we bike?

Most go biking where they live.

The exceptions are the tourist cantons of Graubünden and Valais: In Graubünden, almost twice as many people regularly go biking as live there; in Valais, 2% more. Bikers in the canton of Zurich, followed by Bern, Lucerne and Aargau, often travel outside their canton.

Where are we allowed to bike?

Signs (prohibitions & route signs) are the deciding factors for us as to where we are allowed to drive.

Only a quarter feel that access rights in their canton of residence are clearly communicated. Almost half are not always sure whether they are officially allowed to use a trail. 11% are unclear what an official hiking trail with mountain bike permission is.

What does this mean for IMBA?

We would like to advocate that trespassing rights are communicated more clearly to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.

However, bans should always be well justified and should only considered as last option. Conflicts can best be avoided by clearly communicating an attractive mountain bike offer to all trail users. The basis for this should be a common use of the trails, which is supplemented by bike trails.

Within the framework of the Swiss Mountainbiking Project, we would like to examine the biking market in Switzerland even more closely in order to be able to offer municipalities, cantons and vacation destinations a planning basis for a good and user-friendly offer.

How do we experience conflicts?

Past and future

One-third have not experienced any conflicts on the bike.

The issue is becoming more and more explosive as the utilization of the trail network by outdoor sports has increased more and more in the past and will continue to increase in the future. This development inevitably leads to more conflicts. For this reason, it is important to lay the foundations for a more conflict-free future on forest and mountain trails.

Location

Most conflicts occur on official hiking trails.


However, it does not make much difference whether mountain biking is allowed on these routes or not. Even on official mountain bike routes, conflicts occur for almost a quarter of the participants.

Partner

The most frequent conflicts are with hikers and dog owners. Landowners and farmers are also not infrequent conflict partners.

Types

Conflict often consists of insults or disrespectful comments. Accidents and near collisions are a rarity.


However, unnecessary obstruction of further travel or threats also occur. Alarmingly, 9% often or regularly perceive dangerous trail manipulation. Overall, 25% experience such trail manipulation at least occasionally.

Defusion

It is particularly important to react when a path is heavily frequented, the path/ground is particularly sensitive to bicycles and/or the path allows or encourages high speeds. Above all, educational measures such as a code of conduct, information boards and campaigns should help to reduce conflicts. This is because, according to survey results, the behavior of both bikers and hikers has an equally strong influence on the outcome of a conflict situation. As further measures, individual trail sections should be adapted or trails separated with an appropriate counter offer.

What does this mean for IMBA?

For 100%, i.e. all respondents, it is important that people respect each other on the paths and trails. As the voice of mountain bikers, we would like to devote ourselves specifically to the topic of communication.

The survey shows that active coexistence is characterized by a common code of conduct. Necessary are further awareness and information campaigns where mountain biking is allowed. Because this should be equally clear to all groups involved.

We would like to seek exchange with other user groups, but also deal intensively with the needs of bikers. This includes integrating landowners, farmers and other stakeholders into the planning process from the very beginning.

Particularly frightening for us is the frequency of dangerous trail manipulations, which also increasingly find their way into the news. From our point of view, every single one of them is one too many! We would also like to educate here and especially advocate communication among all stakeholders. It should not be a means of choice for anyone to put others in danger, because this can even be life-threatening.

It is obvious that highly frequented paths offer a higher potential for conflict. For this reason, we would like to advocate for a broader and holistic offer to reduce the load on individual trails. In addition, these critical areas should be mitigated through a professional visitor guidance concept and with measures in trail construction and skillful trail guidance. Signs and information boards can provide more understanding and consideration.

IMBA Switzerland would like to thank all participants and partners for their participation and cooperation in the survey. It is of great concern to us to find sustainable solutions together and to involve all stakeholders.

MERCI, DANKE, GRAZIE!

Many thanks to all sponsors, partners and supporters who make the work of IMBA Switzerland possible!

More survey results and analysis to follow!

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Contact & requests

For questions, analyses and documents just contact us!

Publisher

IMBA Switzerland

Marktgasse 50

3011 Bern

 

+41 31 521 68 02

contact@imbaschweiz.ch

 

Project Team

Dave Spielmann, Management IMBA Switzerland

Lisa Wolfsteiner, Project Staff IMBA Switzerland

 

© IMBA Switzerland 2019 All rights reserved.

Use permitted provided source is acknowledged (see suggested citation). Commercial use excluded.

SMP is supported by Innotour, the funding instrument from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO.

 

Suggested Citation

IMBA Switzerland. Survey – conflicts on trails: summary. Bern 2021. technical document Swiss Mountainbike Project No. 3.001.

 

The project is supported by Innotour, the funding instrument of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO.

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