Office of Citizen
Rest in Peace,
Peace in our Parks
Submitted by metroparks muse on Sun, 10/19/2008 - 15:10.
The Plain Dealer today has a story on the local mountain bikers' belligerent battle with Cleveland Metroparks. The mountain bike crowd believes that parks exist for recreation - with their emphasis being on speed and obstacles - while actually MetroParks founding legislation was for protection of natural areas.
Bikers like the sensation of speed they get from whizzing past trees - and favor races, competitions, timed runs. Walkers, hikers, horseback riders generally move at a leisurely pace, admiring their surroundings, winding down from the speed of life elsewhere. Nothing wrong with bikers per se, but perhaps they could utilize brownfield areas leaving others to appreciate nature without being run over.
Elsewhere, as reported, "mountain biker-in-chief" President George Bush has proposed the national parks be opened to mountain bikes. His support may be welcomed by them, but doesn't win over environmental groups as indicated in the AP story Bush to help open national parks to mountain bikes
This is an expensive sport and Bush's support has been solicited by the companies who sell bikes.
"The president — who has a blue and white Trek bicycle dubbed Mountain Bike One — often rides on his ranch in Crawford, Tex. and in the Washington, D.C. area. He also has received several mountain bikes from companies like Cannondale and Trek."
One thing seen here is environmentalists facing the well-funded lobbying of a highly profitable sporting goods industry. Organized sports are big business and, as the financial collapse has shown, lobbying works well at removing regulations. Give the bikers themselves credit - they bring testosterone and IT skills and email onslaughts which tend to overwhelm the quieter voices and quiet places.
Cleveland MetroParks accommodates cross country skiing though not downhill skiing. A leisurely bike ride on the APT is one thing: speeding downhill is another. Downhill ski slopes were thought to be appropriate places for mountain bikes in summer - now even some of those risk-tolerant folks have chosen to remove the bikers. Mountain bikers post videos showing off their extreme speed - even over 100 mph - and their constructed jumps and obstacles. Not a low key walk in the woods - their nature is adrenaline charged.
Mountain bikers certainly have a right to their life style of thrills and competition. Park systems are not "obliged' to provide that experience. Users don't have a right to spoil the peace and quiet of nature. Come and enjoy the parks as they are: a refuge from frantic modern life.