Mountain bikers and mountain hikers alike share a love of being outdoors yet, with a heightening of tension and media tall tales fuelling anxiety about conflict, the DAV (German Alpine Club) has felt obliged to appeal to all parties to exercise tolerance and consideration.
However, there is a fundamental potential problem as biking and hiking use the same network of paths, at two speeds and with different needs and perceptions. Both activities are very popular; almost 50% of DAV members ride mountain bikes and around 90% go hiking. 12 million Germans own a mountain bike and over 3.7 million say they cycle regularly; there are as many as 7 million hiking.
More people than usual are on the trails in the Bavarian and neighbouring Alps this Corona Summer, so DAV President Josef Mlenner has made an appeal to all parties, “We are a mountain sports community. Respect for one another is part of our basic understanding!”
It was in this spirit that the DAV launched the ‘Mountain Biking – Sustainable into the future’ project two years ago, with the support of the Bavarian State Government. Last year, the DAV stepped up its commitment to mountain biking and launched the #naturlichbiken campaign. #natürlichbiken is not only about conflicts of use but also about enjoying sport in harmony with nature.
Here is a version of the ten DAV tips for respecting nature and for socially acceptable biking.
- Healthy cycling
Mountain biking is endurance sport. The positive stress stimuli for the heart, circulation and muscles require good health and a realistic self-assessment. Avoid time pressure and slowly increase the intensity and length of your tours.
- Careful planning
Specialist literature, maps, internet and experts are valuable tools in choosing a bike tour that suits your fitness and skills. Trips should always match the group, the weather report and the current conditions. Solo bikers – even small incidents can lead to serious emergencies.
- Only use suitable trails
To avoid erosion damage, do not ride cross-country. Use only suitable roads and paths and respect local closures and regulations to prevent conflicts with landowners, road owners and other nature users.
- Check your bike
Check brakes, tyre pressure, wheel nut tightness, suspension and gear shifting of your bike before each ride. Ensure a healthy sitting position.
- Equipment check
Warm clothing, rain and wind protection, repair kit and first aid package belong in the backpack, as well as mobile phone (Euro emergency 112), light and sufficient food and drink. Gloves and glasses protect your hands and eyes. Map or GPS are valuable guide.
- Always wear a helmet
In the event of a fall or collision, a helmet can prevent head injuries or even save your life.
- Give hikers priority
Announce your arrival early and reduce your speed. Stop if necessary – a friendly greeting promotes goodwill. Ride in small bike groups and avoid paths frequented by hikers.
- Control speed
Adjust your speed to the situation. Ride with awareness and be ready to brake at any time as unexpected obstacles can cause problems.
- Leave no trace
Control braking so that the wheels do not lock, preventing soil erosion and trail damage. Take your waste with you and avoid noise.
- Respect for animals
Twilight is the time wild animals feed so ride in daylight to avoid interference. Approach animals with care and close grazing fences after passing through.