Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Forest Ridge Mountain Bike Trails

I caught this on the Triangle Off Road Cyclists site today:
"Mark your calendars!
A public workshop for Forest Ridge Park will be held Thursday, June 4, 2009, at 6:00 -8:00pm at Campbell Lodge, located at 3237 Spottswood Street.
Come take a look at schematic drawings for Phase I.
The expectation is trails will part the first phase of park construction. As details develop, updates will be posted."
The Forest Ridge Park MTB trails have been anticipated for some time now. has been teasing me with an icon for a trail on its local area trail map. Click on the icon for Forest Ridge for "more info" and you're greeted with the message "Coming Soon"!

One of the great things about mountain biking is that the enthusiasts of the sport take such a lead in locating sites, advocating for use, and constructing trails. Anyone with an interest in helping out is always welcome on trail work days and the vast majority of mountain bike trails in the area were created by volunteers.

Mountain bike trails are fairly cheap to construct, and good trails get a lot of use, so it's a good return on the municipality's investment. Constructing and maintaining trails that are fun to ride, challenging enough to draw experienced riders, and simple enough to be accessible for novice riders, while insuring the long-term environmental sustainability of the chosen site is a fascinating mix of science and art, and will be the subject of a longer post.

Get to the meeting if you can, and make your voice heard!


I just had a chance to scan the draft master plan and the appendix for the Forest Ridge Park, and it provides interesting insight into the public process for creating a park. Looks like the mountain bikers create a vocal lobbying group which is sometimes in conflict with wildlife managers.

The mountain bike community is pushing for 20 miles of singletrack trail, which would be the first sanctioned mountain bike trail in Raleigh. Urban Wildlife Biologist Anna Smith with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission wrote an particularly intriguing email to the park committee (starting on page 132 of the appendix) in which she documents some of her reservations about the park, and states that she thinks 20 miles of mountain bike trail would not be compatable with good wildlife management on the site.

Regardless, it seems that mountain bike trail construction will occur during the first phase of development of the park. Not because it is a high priority for any of the agencies parterning to create the park, but because loud, assertive mountain bikers have been present at every stage of the planning process, and the local mountain bike clubs will build the trails with no charge to the city.

All of our interests compete when we start debating public space. The issues brought up in the construction of a public park pit wildlife against recreation, agency against agency, and even create competition between parks under the same management. My policy professor once commented that you can tell good public policy by the fact that no one is happy with the decision.

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