In this episode of the Singletracks podcast, we talk with Ross Martin, a PhD candidate at the Texas State University, about his research into the environmental impact of mountain biking. Ross is a mountain biker and a scientist who is working to understand how mountain bikes affect everything from plants and animals to soils and society at large. We get down and dirty in our discussion on erosion, and ask Ross what he thinks about potentially allowing mountain bikes in Wilderness areas.

# Comments

  • Kevin Mills

    And what is the environmental impact of mountain biking on the great wall of china?

    • Jeff Barber

      I guess it’s more of a cultural impact, but point taken. My takeaway from our conversation with Ross is that no matter where you bike or how responsible you are, there is going to be an impact. Once we fully understand what those impacts are, we can start to mitigate or if necessary, remediate them.

  • Kevin Mills

    My own significant environmental impact is harming wildlife. A couple of weeks ago i ran over a large lizard who had the unfortunate luck of sunbathing in the middle of the trail just as i was riding. I feel horrible for this.

    • isawtman

      That’s one difference between mountain biking and hiking. Yes, hikers do step on wildlife, but they are more likely to see them than mountain bikers.

    • spiltover06

      Man, you could have bunny hopped the poor thing.

  • Sum Guy

    As for mtb impact, it’s definitely not as bad as all the concrete walkways put in state parks that bikes are not allowed on.

    I totally disagree with the tire damage vs boot damage. I have a trail near me where they have a running competition. the runners ruin the trail for weeks. The trails are all soft due to the tossed soil from the runners. The damage is especially great on the ups and downs.

    I have noticed more and more walkers on my trails. The foot traffic ruins the grade of the trail and makes riding very unsafe. If I cant ride their trails, then why should they walk mine. Unless it’s to maintain it stay off the trail. Dodging walkers has got me hurt more than once.

    Then we have the occasional protester who rallies to get bike trails closed as we are experiencing locally with 2 of our designated MTB parks. One was recently arrested for assaulting a bike riding over a jump.

  • Hap Proctor

    All the mountain bikers in the world had less of an environmental impact than one certain hiker in the Columbia River Gorge.

    • isawtman

      Like mountain bikers have never started fires

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