The main argument against bikes on narrow trails is safety. Access4Bikes is in the process of collecting detailed reports from the various local agencies but we do have some basic local facts based on searching the web and the Marin IJ as well as some interesting facts from California and national studies. In summary, there have been a few incidents over the past decade but the the reality of the situation is that there are fewer mountain bike related injuries than there are men who have walked on the moon (12).
Marin Open Space Injuries 2007 to 2009
- 2009 – 1 (solo bicycle)
- 2008 – 4 (3 solo bicycle, 1 solo equestrian)
- 2007 – 2 (1 dog-bicycle, 1 equestrian-bicycle)
Source: Marin Open Space Trail Workshop, 2009
As the above data illustrates, 7 reported injuries over 3 years appears to indicate that bicycles on the trails is not as dangerous as some would like to claim.
Marin Narrow Trail Facts and Safety Statistics
- 3 – Number of stables directly adjacent to multi-use trails ( Miwok Livery Stables, Five Brooks Ranch, Ocean Riders of Marin)
- 12 – Number of years Old Springs Trail, next to Miwok Livery Stables, has been multi-use.
- 0 – Number of reported incidents between equestrians and bikes on these trails in the past 12 years.
- 1 – Number of reported injuries to equestrians caused by 12 year old boys illegally riding trails in Novato.
- 1 – Number of legal trails in Novato that are not fire roads.
Sources: Access4Bikes Trail Database and Marin IJ
From what we can determine, the statements about local incidents of injury and death are far greater than reality.
This assessment was confirmed by the 2012 CA State Parks Trail Use Conflict Study. This study analyzed other studies and
California State Parks Trail Use and Conflict Study
While there is a wealth of documents and articles on the topic of user conflicts on multi-use trails, the majority of the literature does not provide empirical data regarding the presence, extent, or attributes of user conflict or incidents. While 63 of the 80 Literature Review sources define the problem of trail user conflicts, several of them do so as a presupposition based on previous literature (14 sources), or the author’s experience (13 sources). Several sources present surveys on managers’ perceptions of conflict (9 sources) or users’ perceptions of conflict (22 sources). None of these surveys asked the frequency of actual trail use conflict related incidents or accidents. This notable lack of citations regarding specific incidents and accidents implies that they occur infrequently. – Chapter 3.1
The study further analyzed the available data in Appendix B and
There is a low incidence of accidents or injuries compared to the extent of perceived conflict and complaints about conflict. Four of the 148 sources reviewed based their analyses on actual incident or complaint data to determine the frequency or rate of conflict. They were consistent in finding a low ratio of actual accidents.
Source: 2012 CA State Parks Trail Use Conflict Study
The simple fact is that the fears related to safety are simply not supported by the facts.
There are some national bike and equestrian safety studies and they show that there are accidents.
National Mountain Biking Safety Statistics
- Between 1994 and 2007 there were an average of 15,531 injuries per year that required a visit to the emergency room.
- Mountain bike-related injuries decreased from 1994 to 2007
- In 2007, there were 10,267 mountain bike related injuries.
- Access4Bikes is unable to find any statistics or facts related to deaths related to mountain biking.
Source: American Journal of Sport Medicine
National Horse Riding Safety Statistics
- Riding as a sport has inherent risks due to the fact that a rider’s head may be up to 13 feet above the ground and are “capable of moving at considerable speed and can be unpredictable”.
- In 2007, 78,279 people visited the emergency room as result of horse riding injuries.
- The rate of serious injury is estimated to be the same for horseback riders as that for motorcyclists.
- Over 100 deaths per year are estimated to result from equestrian related activites.
Source : Riders4Helmets.com
The statistics tend to indicate that riding a horse is far more dangerous than riding a mountain bike. As further proof of how dangerous it can be to ride a horse, one of Access4Bikes members overheard this conversation between two riders:
“So I was out with Mary yesterday and we came across an egret by the trail, I told Mary to be careful in case the egret took off. Sure enough it did and both horses spooked and jumped off the side of the trail. She came off and ended up on the hill, but was ok”
Should we ban egrets to protect the equestrians?