In many jurisdictions, trails built strictly for motorized use are a shared asset. However, the other side of the coin is that in some places we are legally bound to share some of our trails with non-motorized users.
Shared use trails where motorized and non-motorized users come together can be a source of great angst. Virtually 100 percent of the time it’s the motorized users who pay to build and maintain these “multi-use” routes.
Often, non-motorized users have been allowed access to these trails as a result of political wrangling. It’s like we’ve been held hostage with our own gun. If we let non-motorized users on our trails we can keep our trails? As much as I resent this reality, we have little choice but to deal with hikers and bikers using the trails we’ve developed and maintained at our expense.
This idea of shared use is what politicians and bureaucrats want from the motorized community. The success of multi-use trails lies mainly in understanding and managing how motorized and non-motorized users behave in close proximity.
If hikers walk 5-wide on rail-grade trails while displaying intolerance in the face of approaching motorized users there will be a confrontation.
If motorized users wick-up the throttle when meeting hikers and bikers, leaving them gasping in a cloud of dust, there will be problems.
As is almost always the case, this issue will ultimately come down to continued tolerance on the part of the motorized fraternity. You can be sure a pair of hikers complaining to local authorities about a motorized trail user will get way more traction than an ATVer complaining about renegade hikers not moving out of the way on a trail. It’s just the way it is.
So get behind our motorized allies and then muster as much tolerance as you can for the non-motorized users we have to share our trails with. Take one for the team!