Dear Editor:

Death by a thousand cuts!

Driving 10 hours from a city to ride for a couple of hours tearing up grassland or alpine and then driving another ten hours back to tinsel town does not count towards “saving the planet”. Contrary to what advertisers would have us believe, riding bicycles has nothing to do with saving the environment, unless they are directly being used to replace the use of a car.

Recreational mountain biking is about getting exercise and thrills. Unfortunately it is also about poaching trails, and cutting single tracks wherever one feels like it. See Dry Gulch, Nipika, Mt. Swansea, Steamboat Mountain, Toby Benches, Toby Canyon, etc. It is about selling experience, room nights, meals, bikes and accessories. It is about the big “Monopoly” game where dice is being rolled by players using free public land without regard for other values. As a result of the commodification of experience and the wilderness as sports arena approach to recreation, the “conservation message” has regrettably been ridden under.

Unbelievably it was argued (by a trail enthusiast) in the July 7th edition of the Pioneer that building more trails in the alpine would somehow magically reduce impacts; this is switch and bait logic.

To advocate that drawing more tourists to the area by opening up alpine terrain to “millions” of bikers is somehow going to prevent the devastation that is already taking place is plainly environmental bicycle bamboozling.

It is time to talk sensibly about the current and potential impacts of this type of recreation, and about setting limits. Off road biking can take place on ski hills, for instance, where infrastructure to support this activity is already in place. Sacrifice terrain can be built into city planning.

The free-for-all mountain bike ‘death by a thousand cuts’ of valley bottom grasslands and high country alpine is the offspring of valley sprawl and urban demands. I can understand that people want to play in pristine places, however introducing more high impact activities into fragile natural ecosystems is not a sustainable approach.

Designating controlled areas for aggressive and competitive mountain biking or keeping recreational biking to pre-existing roads and urban trails can make it possible for wildland habitat to remain self-sustaining rather than be a thing of the past.

Peter Christensen,

Radium Hot Springs