Trail Design

Most of those against shared trail use cite safety concerns as the great unsolvable issue.  A 2012 California State Park study stated:

Analysis of the data collected shows that the primary management concern on multi-use trails is conflict
based on users’ perceptions and behaviors, and that actual accidents involving different user types were rare.

The study continues to say that trail design to accommodate multiple use helps avoid or reduce conflict (page 24), and then provides 9 interrelated elements that support low-conflict multi-use trails.

trail design from ascentenvironmental

  • Tread Width and Passing Space. Provide sufficient width of the trail tread and existing or created space to allow users to pass each other, either as a continuous condition, or as passing spaces at defined intervals. This also includes vertical clearance from overhanging trees and objects.
  • Sight Distance. Include adequate length of the trail visible ahead to the user. This is particularly important to resolve in conjunction with speed control features, turns, and sinuous layout as sight distance increases as speeds are reduced.
  • Turn Radius. Create a minimum inside radius of turns to ensure that they can be comfortably negotiated.
  • Sinuosity. Lay out a trail with many curves and minimal straight sections (however, with sufficient sight distance). This helps limit the speed of mountain bikers and other users.
  • Speed Control Features. Install pinch points, choke points, trail anchors, technical trail features, ‘stiles’, and other elements specifically designed to limit users’ speeds and increase sight distance.
  • Surface Texture. Design the relative smoothness, evenness, and firmness of the trail tread to moderate travel speed by mountain bicyclists, including the presence of irregularities.
  • Low Trail Structures. Avoid steps and waterbar structures that constrain access for horses and mountain bikers and can create points of conflict.
  • Gradient. Apply design limits or variations in the gradient of the trail to allow for multiple uses.
  • Trail Layout and Classification. Consider suitability for multiple uses, factoring the level of use of the trail, availability of alternative trails and routes, and the potential for trails to primarily serve one or multiple user types.

Access4Bikes sincerely believes that with properly designed trails, many of the perceived dangers and safety concerns can be overcome.