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Hot topic: mountain biking

Jan 27, 2016 / alpMedia
Like hikers, mountain bikers are now part of the mountain landscape, often using the same paths. The result: conflicts between the two groups are on the increase.
Image caption:
Free ride for mountain bikes? This increasingly popular sport is provoking discussion across the Alps. © Felix Kaeser-Funk

Discussions about bicycle tourism in the Alps are marked by controversy. Some see the potential for growth and opportunities for tourism, while others fear that bicycles mean yet more excessive use of the Alps. Interest groups in the various countries are reacting to the situation: the German Alpine Club (DAV) has now published a “mountain bike” position paper that provides recommendations for practising the sport in a responsible manner, while offering partnership-based co-operation for all those involved.
While there are practically no limits on mountain-biking in South Tyrol, in April 2015 the province of Trentino extended its restrictions on the activity, with not only topographical criteria now being taken into account, but also its effects on the environment and on walkers. This increasingly popular sport is becoming a hot topic in Austria too: while organisations such as the Friends of Nature, the Alpine Club, the Austrian Tourist Club, the Austrian Chamber of Employees, the Vienna University Sports Institute, the Austrian Federation of Car Drivers, Motorcycle Riders and Cyclists, the Austrian Cycling Association and the Austrian Consortium for Sport and Physical Culture all demand a general opening of forest trails and footpaths to bike users, others such as the Austrian Forestry Association are against it.
The debate has also surfaced in Switzerland, where analyses have been carried out in the Müstair Valley, now published as “Planning Tools for Hiking and Mountain Biking in Mountain Areas”.
Hanspeter Mair, DAV Director for Huts, Nature Conservation and Area Planning, is of the opinion that “mountain sports and nature conservation are not necessarily contradictory”. He states: “With good will on all sides, conflicts can be avoided and a common line found.”

Source and further information: (de), (de), (de), (de), (de), (de)

Filed under: alpMedia 01/2016