Coexistence of hiking and biking trails in a Periurban Park
Nikos Pangas - Marianna Basoulou (Philodassiki Enossi Athinon)
Philodassiki Enosi Athinon
Region & country
Mountain biking has become a common recreational activity, especially in periurban parks. There is growing pressure to permit a larger diversity of recreational activities in some parks, which frequently generates conflict. The appropriateness of mountain biking in some locations is progressively opposed, because of potential social and environmental impacts. Also, this is one of the problems which has to face Philodassiki on Mt. Hymettus Aesthetic Forest.
Inappropriate use of hiking trail by bikers
Damage (erosion effect) caused from downhill biking
Segregation of trails
Overcrowding in specific areas of the forest
Background of the project
The most common activities in Periurban Parks are walking in trails, athletic activities, resting in quiet places with panoramic view, biking in forest trails, educational activities. Some other activities have a direct impact on the environment like motocross in trails and footpaths, downhill biking, massive concentrations of people mostly on weekends. Especially the wrong use of biking results in damages to the vegetation and degradation of the soil.
The needs that have been identified were to address the impacts of mountain biking on soil (augmented erosion, compaction, and water runoff), vegetation (composition, diversity, and structure), wildlife (behavioral stress or disturbance), and on water (different pollutants).
Solution and actions taken
To reduce these problems, Philodassiki always tries to find solutions and takes precautionary measures according to the existing laws and regulations. To illustrate this, it has implemented a successful example: the transformation of an existent footpath into two distinct paths, one for walking and one for mountain bikes. For this purpose, the ground was prepared according to the international technical guidelines for mountain biking. This was followed by appropriate signposts.
The steps taken to address the problem were initially to identify the problem and the effects. Afterwards, an attempt was made to find a suitable solution to the problem where all those concerned would agree. That’s why the solution was agreed with the Hellenic Mountain Bicycling Association.
Other institutions or parties involved
The main organization that took action to face this kind of problem was the park management body “Philodassiki Enossi Athinon” and then the construction of the mountain bike trail was done with the help of volunteers, members of the Hellenic Mountain Bicycling Association, according to the European guidelines for mountain biking.
The results now are that there is a better coexistence between bikers and other park users. Also, land encroachment and the others effects on the environment have been avoided as much as possible.
In the first phase of implementation there were problems of acceptance by some users, but finally, we found a way of coexistence that is still working.
The conclusions from this process are that the risks to a periurban park are many, so they must be identified and addressed immediately in the best possible way. It is also necessary to do this in collaboration with the users of the park, where, in this case, were the bikers, and not create rivalries.
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