Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dog Owner To Bite Mountain Bikers

Dog Owner Rally's Protest at Mountain Bike Festival.

Can bikes, dogs, horses and multiple trail users co-exist?

Awesome NEW "Brown Sugar" Mountain Bike Trail unveiled in Sechelt. Dogs seem to love it too! Pet owners come out in protest.

November 8, 2010
Phase 2 construction begins at Kinnikinnick Park of parallel trails that provide a separate agility track for mountain bikers away from hikers. The Trail is part of a world renowned Capilano University mountain bike program.

Dog owner, Sue Adams of Davis Bay is not happy that mountain bikers have built a trail at Kinnikinnick Park in Sechelt, BC on the Sunshine Coast. She is also upset the District of Sechelt is planning to prohibit her dogs Kaleigh and Brody, and others from using the adjacent playing fields to socialize. Sue has posted signs throughout the extensive trail systems calling on dog owners to unite and come to the Roam the Loam 2 Mountain Bike Festival and trail opening to protest threats to the off-leash dog park and show their solidarity.

SEE "Brown Sugar" Trail Unveiling and ALL THE PHOTOS on Flickr from Roam The Loam 2

The Capilano University Mountain Bike Operations program Students and their sponsor Off The Edge have planned a mountain biking festival and trail unveiling called "Roam the Loam 2" for Saturday May 1st. In the past the event has been at the Sprockids Mountain Bike Park in Langdale and this year has moved to Sechelt.

"I urge all dog owners to come out that day and enjoy OUR WALKING TRAILS. Be silent no more - spread the word," reads Sue's poster. "If we don't voice our concerns we could loose our off-leash dog park!!!!"

Sue continues "Please come to the park on Saturday, May 1st, and walk the trails in support of our dogs, our families and our hikers. Keeping your dog on leash for this one day will ensure that no one is injured by the cyclists using the trails for their "Roam the Loam" day!"

In one case I noticed, a Roam the Loam event poster has been torn down, crumpled, thrown on the ground and staked by a stick.

Kinnikinnick is one of the only official off leash parks for our four legged friends that I know of on the Sunshine Coast, even though the entire coast is pretty much a very relaxed off leash region. In fact my experience has been people look at you weird if you have your dog on a leash. WAGS In Roberts Creek they have written on top of signs so they read "do not leash your pet."

The Capilano University Mountain Bike program attracts students from around the world. Each year they do some new trail building and maintenance. It is the only program of its kind in North America and around the world.

Just recently I posted photos from the newly rebuilt stunt jumps and tracks at Connor Park in Halfmoon Bay, BC during a Day In The Dirt Bike Swap. SEE PHOTOS

This event and the newly improved mountain park facilities are just one example of how the Mountain Bike Operations program learn to build sustainable environmentally friendly trail systems that both encourage the sport and protect wilderness areas by keeping users to a designated path. An awesome win - win for the Sunshine Coast!

Jay Hoots is a CMIC certified MTB coach for the Capilano University program. I met up with him on the trails in Kinnikinnick, where I frequently go for a hike, and use to enjoy with my late dog Tundra.

I asked Jay about the concerns of this dog owner. He was extremely gracious and welcomed the feedback and concerns Sue had brought up. He told me that their eventual plan is to link a mountain bike only trail to where the new jumps and stunts trails are at the end of the red trail so cyclists, walkers and dogs will not be mixing.

Mountain bikers however are concerned and upset that they will now be restricted from using other trails in the park, and will have just the one trail.

Caroline Dépatie, Sunshine Coast Campus Capilano University Mountain Bike Operations Program Convenor, aka, the main spoke in the wheel, told me that the new trail is a teaching/learning trail for children who ride mountain bikes to work on their riding skills. The trail has beginner and intermediate bike features on it so children can have fun and enjoy being in the outdoors rather than stuck to a screen being inactive. Every feature has an alternate easy route for riders.

She said "We will certainly suggest to the District of Sechelt to put up trail etiquette signs outlining things like: Be respectful of other users, bikers yield to hikers, etc."

Dépatie added that from studies she has read, conflict between hikers and bikers is more perceived than actual. There is this perceived notion that bikers are dangerous and will create harm where actual reports indicate very positive encounters between both groups.

It takes only one negative experience of a hiker and suddenly all bikers are painted with the same brush. If a recreation plans of an area supports it, designating trails for specific users can be a good idea. She believes in being fair to all users.

Emanuel Machado, Manager of Sustainability Services and Special Projects, for the District of Sechelt contacted me on his Blackberry from the Landgale Ferry Terminal. He was on his way to Vancouver by ferry for the weekend but felt this was an extremely important matter to touch base with me on. Emanuel is also the first local government official to wholeheartedly jump on board Tundra's dog and people friendly drinking fountain memorial campaign fund for my Siberian Wolf who passed away January 27th, 2010.

Emanuel told me that the "vision" is to have a mountain bike only trail that connects from Heritage Road to Kinnikinnick Elementary, with the rest of the trails designated as pedestrian only. Right now the University students are at the 1st phase. The third phase is expected to be completed by the Mountain Biker Operations students in the Spring of 2011. In the meantime, the "red trail" that leads to the mountain bike park will be shared and over the next couple of weeks signs encouraging proper trail etiquette and courtesy will be posted.

I completely understand Sue and other's frustration that a quiet forest trail could become over run by mountain bikers and turn their off-leash oasis into a doggies nightmare! I also think that encouraging sustainable mountain biking is good for our kids health, tourism, and a green economy.

I think the best scenario for all users is to create separate paths for each and where they do cross over, use courtesy and common sense. I can just imagine what it would be like if we added people on roller blades, long boards, horses, skateboards, runners, walkers, ATV's and more.

I am also not sure that protesting a children's mountain bike festival is quite the right way to go about making your point, but I completely feel for Sue and agree that we need to have trails for just dogs and people where you don't have to fear getting run over by a mad mountain biker and get let your guard down and just roam!

Incidentally, did you know that the loam in "Roam the Loam" refers to the glacial till they use to build the kewl trails? They have to dig way down below all the surface soil and detritus.

It's just one of the amazing things you will discover at the annual Roam the Loam Mountain Bike Festival! Bring the whole family out and check it out. This is a terrific opportunity to have trained caring professionals help you with any questions you have about the sport. Bring your dog too! WOOF

What do you think about the Kinnikinnick trail sharing situation? I want to hear from you. Did I miss an obvious point in all this, or is their a better solution?

(blogspot uploads this blog to the Notes section of my fb profile)

Heather Pearce Lyons
do we dog walkers still have a trail separate from the bikers ??

Greg Lightbourn
I hike, I have a high energy dog and I mountain bike. I have encountered only one inconsiderate mountain biker while hiking with my dog on a multi-use trail in RC. He was going too fast and almost fell off his bike trying to miss my dog- his fault for going too fast to stop for unexpected moving obstacles on a multi-use trail. He wasn't, by the way, a youth either, he was mid thirties. Most other bikers I've encountered have been more than courteous and careful. I also am very aware of slower moving beings when riding- common sense one would think. Everyone should be able to enjoy the trails in our forests- on foot or un-motorized vehicles- co-operation and education is all that is really needed- and respect for others enjoying healthy activities.

Jay Richard Walter
I would say that she is completely out of line to use this festival as a platform for her protest. Does the closing of the fields portion have anything to do with the cyclists? From what I've read in your post it would seem that the cyclists are being given only one trail out of a network of many. It smells like sour grapes to me. She has lost all... See More credibility with her aggressive, 'me first and only', approach.

There are many who would like to have trails without any dogs on them ever. They may be afraid of dogs or they don't like the dogs disturbing the wildlife; they don't like stepping in doggy doo; etc.. Is she willing to accommodate them?

Everyone wants youths to do something other than drugs and crime. Now they're doing it and someone has to pipe up and say 'Whoa. Not welcome here though.' It's no wonder so many don't even bother trying when there is always someone waiting to rain on the parade.

I'm sure a system of protocols can be established wherein both groups can enjoy some healthy outdoor activity in harmony. This could be accomplished with an information booth at the event but not with placard carrying protesters creating an atmosphere of conflict.

Mary Craziness
I don't see why we can't all just get along and be respectful of each other and beat up the garbage dumpers and gallop across the golf course???? ; P

June Ward
As a heavy user of the many trails on the Coast ,I did see an increase in the number of negative encounters with MB riders because of my dogs .I experienced a shift with the "type" of intolerance I saw .I also know that it was more likely to occur if I was walking with women as opposed to men .

Micha Bruecker
I support to keep Kin. fields and park off leash. I would hope that the building of bike trails will not interfere with the off-leash policy. There are already many mountain bike trails on the Coast but only very few off-leash areas. Mountain biking, after all, is a sport which, by definition, should be practiced in natural surroundings and not necessarily on groomed trails ….

Besides, the dogs are not the only ones leaving something behind on the field. Every time there was a game there are bottles, wrappers, etc. thrown out carelessly by the players. Further, I suspect once the dogs are gone the geese will come in and cover the field in their crap.

Most importantly though, having a place where dogs (and humans) can interact freely greatly enhances their social skills and so reduces problems with under-socialized dogs (and humans). As far as I know Kin. Is the only off-leash area within the District of Sechelt? How many (comparable) sites are there actually on the Sunshine Coast? And how many dog owners are there?

All of which doesn’t excuse the laziness of dog owners who do not pick up after their dogs. There have always been those who have not been as considerate as could be wished for.

Jay Richard Walter
It is true that there are many mountain bike trails in the woods on the Coast. The lion's share of these trails are on crown land and are therefore illegal. People spend their own time and resources to build some epic trails in the bush. Yes they are 'groomed'. Corners are banked; bridges,jumps, and other challenges are built and maintained. with the least possible impact on the ecosystem i.e. minimizing erosion and protecting watercourses.

Often times these trails that have been so lovingly crafted are destroyed by clear cuts on the hill. In West Van, the city has gone in and destroyed trails citing insurance fears. As well, people still go in the bush and walk their dogs on trails built by the cyclists and get upset at them. Another hazard encountered by cyclists in the woods is the dirt bikers. I think it safe to assume that the dog walkers would probably rather encounter pedal powered conveyances over loud, smelly, and larger motor powered ones.

These people have been quietly working away to keep their sport alive with minimal support from any level of government. Having this trail in Kin. will legitimize the sport and bring into public awareness the massive resource of tourism we have here if they would just open up the hills to legal trails that are protected from logging.
The issue of feces on the fields is a different one. It should not be connected to the bike trail at all but it has for some reason. As if the cyclists somehow convinced the SCRD to punish the dog owners so now the dog owners will punish the cyclists??? Are we in elementary school here or what. It is 2010 and we know better ways to solve disputes.

I recommend walking in Cliff Gilker. It is huge, un-officially off leash, has lots of places for dogs to meet and play creekside in the water, and the cyclists tend to avoid it as they have way nicer riding trails up the hill. Just don't tell everyone :)

Micha Bruecker
Just to clarify: Kin. Park is solely the District of Sechelt's responsibility and not the SCRD's.

Use of Kin. Park has increased multifold over the past years which is a good thing. Unfortunately there are also increased clashes between bikers and walkers (and their dogs) on the NARROW trails with often LIMITED VISIBILITY.

I wholeheartedly support mountain biking and the separate trails as long as this does not negatively impact the only off-leash park in the DoS.... See More

Dog owners are angry about DoS's decision (now temporarily revoked) to close the fields for off-leash dogs and are concerned that this might just be a pre-amble to close the entire trail system while the issue of feces is simply a reason given the public.

Cliff Gilker is a great UNOFFICIAL off-leash park but for many Sechelters quite the drive to undertake daily.

Rob Thomson
Walk and ride carefully and with courtesy and problems will not arise

Jay Richard Walter
How about Hidden Grove which opens up into a huge network of trails above the power lines. Or hike into Chapman falls behind the gravel pit. There is a huge network of trails in there and they are for the most part quite wide so there is room for all.
It would seem that the dog owners should be lobbying local gov't for more off-leash areas. Armed with this recent change in Kin. I think the momentum is there.

Cyril Perpet
I have a problem with Kinnikinnick staying an off leash park. When you have softball games, soccer games and other community event you often get dogs running around and going to the bathroom on the fields. Some of the owners do not pick up after the dogs and you have people using the park with dog droppings on the ground.

Jay Richard Walter
The fields were created for sports and that should be their primary use. Maybe there could be an organization that books the fields at specific times for dog play. The members would then be responsible for making sure the fields are left clean and ready for the next group just like any users of the fields should do.
There are no simple answers, only intelligent solutions.

Bob Dobs
Kinn Fields have NOT been working as an off leash area. First off i have been a dog owner all my life and some of them were almost never on a leash. I support off leash areas in a big way.
However the fields at Kinn park are heavily used by sports teams, for which they were built.

As a coach and long time member of the SCyouth Soccer asn i have had many negative experiences with dogs, their owners, and their crap at Kinn. I coach 2-3 times a week at kinn and need to spend 10 minutes prior to every session searching for and picking up dog feces. It is a significant problem.

I have also had dog owners refusing to get their dogs off my booked playing field, their pet interfering with my players as they argue that their dog has a right to run a muck. Thankfully this kind of behaviour is rare. Unfortunately dog crap on the field definitely is not.

Dogs should be kept OFF the playing fields at Kinn. There are many other parks in the District with open space and no dedicated sports fields.

Bikes and walkers should both have a dedicated path in the park. The rest should be shared. For many young riders who are not ready for the mountain the park is a great safe and accessible place to learn the sport and joy of trail riding. We should be able to all share with respect.

Melina Cassidy
I understand that dog owners enjoy their walking trails. Just as bike riders enjoy the challenging trails.

Bottom line- the forest belongs to Gaia. And we should all be free to use respectfully, without harming one another or the forest ecosystem.

Jay Richard Walter
I hope the people who tore down all the posters recently are ashamed of themselves. I know that I'm ashamed to have such people in my community.

Micha Bruecker
The field and the trail issues are two separate ones.

The fields are not used by sports groups during the day and should then be open for everybody's enjoyment (e.g. dog owners).

PS: Sports groups leave garbage behind after their games and practices....

PPS: Those dogs roaming around during sports activities mostly belong to the players' families.

June Ward
I believe that the Sunshine Coast is marketed as a destination for MBing, therefore there seems to be an expectation of unhindered riding .Yes Duane I did see an increase in bad manners .ps I ride also.

Bob Dobs
If ALL of the dog owners cleaned up after their pets then that may seem like a good idea. However during the soccer season the fields are in use most nights until 7pm or later. in the summer ball uses the fields till sundown. Enough irresponsible dog owners do not clean up so as to cause a serious problem. This is why the dogs have lost the... See More park.
I've seen dog owners in the day let their pets out of the car to run free in the park while they sit and read in their car. I imagine it is their routine.
There are other fields that are not used by organized sports for dogs;Brookman;Creekside;Burtnick;lower Hackett;Clayton: as well as most any other open space on the coast.
Some of these areas have been approved or proposed as off leash areas and other could lobbied for.

A trial of off leash bookings for dog groups as Jay suggested may be worth a try at Kinn.

The spectators dogs that encroach on the field are rarely the problem and are brought under control quickly as the owner has a stake in the proceedings and therefore they care.

It is outrageous that you would seem to imply that all "Sports groups leave garbage behind after their games and practices" .
Seriously..."Every time there was a game there are bottles, wrappers, etc. thrown out carelessly by the players. " ??
I have been heavily involved in soccer on the coast for 15 years. Yes there are occasions that a mess is left behind. I find that in most cases, others at the field will clean up after those thoughtless few. I never leave a park with trash on it nor do the majority of sports groups.
Again trash and poo are very different issues.
It may well be true about the geese, but they are not in our control.

The bikers are not advocating that dogs should not use the park. Nor am I. But after years of cleaning up dog shit by the bucketful on the SPORTS FIELD that the SPORTS GROUPS worked to have built, I am certain that the dogs need to stay off the playing fields.
They should be free to roam anywhere else as long as they are not harming anyone.
As should the bikers. As long as they don't shit on the trail.

Since most mnt bikers I know have dogs too, it is so strange seeing this whole controversy of the diff park stakeholders and dogs vs bikers, and even weirder in your pics I see the guy with his dog on a leash the whole time during the tour in the middle of the forest -I assume that was a PR move or that the dog is uncontrollable around people? Ithought that area was 'leash off' anyways -so why is the dog leashed? In 33 years on the coast I have never seen a dog on a leash anywhere at any time other than walking along the road. Even then rarely. Not on the beach, not in the trails, not in yards, not in parks, definitely not in the middle of the forest, not anywhere. In fact I have been attacked by unleashed dogs in public places 5 separate times, the 6th being a St Bernard that broke its chain mid air (we were on the road) and went for my sister's throat before my Dad tackled it, while the owner stood there. And then just blamed us, for being on the road, I guess. Also been glared at on the road by dog walkers when driving by (I always steer wide and go slow) -I hope this doesn't mean we soon won't be allowed to use the roads. And I love dogs, although as a result of all that they make me nervous. And yes, some mnt bikers can be problematic, but it was my understanding that (1) parks are PUBLIC, as in for everyone (2) that the whole coast is already a freakin' off leash area. These days the avg rider is a 30 something family guy paying a mortgage themselves. Most mnt bikers are as annoyed by any bad riders as are dog walkers, and typically apply their own 'rough justice' to take care of those people, typically punk kids. But better to have kids riding and enjoying nature than doing drugs and breaking into your house. But lets face it, ignorance exists on both sides. So far the dog owners are trying to stifle free speech (ripping down the signs) and subvert due process (we don't even want to hear it, this is 'our'trail). Similar things happened in North Van trails, with hikers complaining that the mnt bikers were dangerous, and to prove their point they stormed council meetings with 'demands' and then 'sabotaged' the trails by putting logs around blind turns and such, causing a few broken bones and other injuries to those 'dangerous' riders, while nary an indignant hiker was ever injured. Things change, and usage will change over time as newer and younger groups with different interests become involved. I am just happy to see people getting involved -in anything. So, lets hope that idiotic means don't justify similar ends in this case. I look thru the pics and see a lot of intelligent and friendly people who are passionate about the outdoors, which is amazing. It's everyone's home, and freaking wilderness in all directions, people. So let's just skip this internecine warfare and work together to preserve and enjoy the outdoors, for us, and the generations to come.

Brandon Evans
the joke of it is that its the young mountain biking "punks" who build the trails for the complaining hikers. and by the way I don't know if you have a dog or not but no one wants their dog to go run away and get eaten by a cougar or hit by a car. that's the reason they are on leashes. its better that they are leashed for everyone including the animals themselves. these days many trails are built exclusively for talented bikers. hikers should respect that. keep in mind that there are other places to hike where no one is in danger: soams hill, cliff gilker,any beautiful beach, the bottom of mt.elphinstone. you dont see hikers on the downhill slopes at whistler. its not the riders fault if some one is crazy enough to stand in the middle of an actual reserved mountain bike trail. you don't see people standing in the middle of a highway.

Brandon Evans
great trail guys. cant wait to ride it when I get back. good pictures too.

You are right, what I said was an incorrect generalization, so is saying 'young mnt bike "punks" build all the trails'. Obviously neither is remotely true. I refer to those who do not practice good trail etiquette, be they riders or hikers. Thanks for helping me clarify.

We have owned dogs, yes. Never heard of a cougar problem on the coast ... See Morein all my years. Chased away a few black bears though.

Lastly, saying some trails built on public land are built 'exclusively for talented riders' is crap, it's the same "exclusion of use" argument the dog folks are using. The bottom line is that public land is for everyone, and that everyone needs to be able to get along. Should I be able to stand at the trail head and tell you to screw off based on my opinion that you can't ride or if I see you without a dog? Of course not. Just because you build a trail doesn't mean you own it -and if that is a person's thought process when building, then just build it on private property, put a fence around it, and save us all the hassle. Come on. Can't have it both ways.

Trish Thompson
I just read all the comments about the dogs and bikes and WOW...that's cool you are like a talk show host

Trish Thompson
do you think the radio guy will read this?

WOW Lots of great feedback and discussion!

Thanks again for reading my blog! I am a dog lover, mountain biker fan and have a huge love for nature and Earth. For more information on Sunshine Coast events you can follow me on Twitter or add me as a facebook friend or also join the Sunshine Coast fan page on facebook. See links below......

It's always a good day on the Sunshine Coast,
Yours for the planet, Duane

story/photos (C) Duane Burnett

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1 comment:

  1. Mountain bikers think that they are entitled to everything because they ride a big honking bike. Capilano University has become an ignorant shill for mountain biking destruction of our parks and natural places. I am aghast at how many mountain bikers are running their dogs ragged on the trails. I have seen my share of injured dogs coming off the trail. Give it a break, Duane


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