Is MUNi damaging to the environment?

Is MUni environmentally damaging?

I wonder about this. I thought it might make a good discussion. I think back to the CAl MUni weekend for examples. Images of riders jumping or hopping off dead logs and riding moss covered skinnies.

Tree stumps are small ecosystems in themselves. If we go up on top and jump around, wouldn’t that severely impact that ecosystem?

BTW, MOST of the riding at the Cal Muni weekend was ON trails.

I am not against doing this, I am just curious as to other’s thoughts.:slight_smile:

Re: Is MUNi damaging to the environment?

Damage, maybe. Severly damage, I doubt it. If the system is that fragile it is doomed anyway. I know that there are some plants that years to grow, and if you step on it it dies, they even have signs telling people to avoid stepping on it. If it was rare, or fragile they would let you know.

Hmmmm. Is MUni damaging to the environment?

Well, they rip the aluminium and iron ore out of the ground, often by open cast or strip mining, allowing all manner of other metals to pollute the local water courses. Smelting the aluminium is hugely energy intensive. Steelworks cause pollution and leave huge amounts of slack which has to be landscaped if in a western country) or left if not. Then there’s the petrochemicals used in the production of the seat covers and tyres, and that’s before we look at the Kevlar body armour and so on…

And all this is transported from a third world country by sea or air, burning more petrochemicals, before it is transported top the warehouse, then the shop, and finally to the rider’s home…

And riding it? That depends hugely on the conscience and ability of the rider. Per mile travelled, I guess it causes similar damage to a bicycle, and less than a hiker in boots.

I guess it’s probably self-regulating to the extent that the riders who do the most extreme stuff, which could cause the most damage, tend to stay in small areas, repeating particular difficult moves. Those who roam further into the wilds probably only pass that way once.

Just ride sensibly, and with respect for the flora and fauna.

yes they do but,riding though the forest isnt even as close to the negative impact on the evironment that manufacturing unicycles does.

there is also the nightmare of how they are transported from overseas.

its not fun to think about that kind of stuff.

EDIT:looks like me and Mikefule were typing at the same time agian.

Re: Is MUNi damaging to the environment?

Yes. In that we are off the trail when doing this, the damage is significantly more than just riding down the trail. Mountain bikers usually don’t practice Trials on the trails (at least I hardly ever see it), so it’s possible we do even more damage than the average bike when we practice Trials there.

Otherwise, bikes and unicycles probably have about the same amount of impact on trails. Bikes make two tracks and tend to skid more, but our unicycles tend to have fatter tires, and we may tend to hop around on things more, causing more wear and tear on whatever those things may be.

Riding down the center of a trail causes minimal environmental impact, under the right conditions. Many of California’s trails are closed during the rainy winter months because they are much more sucetptible to erosion and tire (foot, hoof) damage during this time. Lots of people ride on them anyway, of course.

There are ways to ride a trail, on bike or uni, that cause less impact than others. You can read about this in places like the IMBA Web site or anywhere that talks about trail use, I bet.

  • Don’t skid. More of a problem for bikes, but it tears up the ground more than using your brakes (or legs) appropriately

  • Don’t make huge wide spots around puddles. You know you’re probably going to get dirty anyway, so ride through the middle. Sometimes the trail gets many times wider than it should be due to a puddle.

  • Don’t break trail. Most every trail you’ve ever ridden on has been man-made, and is usually maintained at least once a year [by volunteers!] to protect it from erosion or other wear & tear. Much effort goes into not only maintaining the trail, but getting permission to have one. Let the trail designers determine where the trail goes, or petition them directly if you want to make changes.

  • Along with the item above, you’re supposed to stay on the trail. Below I will talk about my idea of reasonable use.

  • Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but tracks. Innertubes and wrappers are not decorations. Shame on all you riders who can’t carry out tiny broken parts and your own wrappers!

Back to the Soquel Demo Forest, where we rode on Friday of last MUni Weekend. The first time I rode that trail, it was pouring rain. The actual downhill part of the trail was a stream, and you couldn’t actually see the trail through the brown water. It had started raining as we were riding up to the top. Very fun, but we had to ride more conservatively, and we took steps to not skid or otherwise cause undue erosion.

But trails are made to be used. Wear & tear from riding on trails is expected. Thrashing around through the neighboring woods is not, however. But to a certain degree, logs and stumps that are right next to the trail I consider to be fair game. If we take a strip that’s between 2 and 20’ wide through the wilderness, I think that’s acceptable, as long as we respect the rest. If an obstacle is right along the trail that’s one thing. If it’s 50’ back in the middle of the woods, that’s another story.

But trail use in wilderness areas has to be a balance. The trails exist so people can enjoy nature, but even if you tiptoe through it, you are going to have some effect. Some people have a much stricter definiton of “use” than others. To me, rotting stumps and logs along the trail become “reasonable” parts of the trail. If they’re in the middle of the woods, they should be left alone.

The more people who use a trail, the more careful you have to be to preserve it. The trails closer to urban areas get beat up the most, for two main reasons. First, there are more people using them. Second, because they are more accessible, they receive a higher percentage of people who either don’t know or don’t care what happens to the environment.

As for the environmental impact of the creation of my unicycles, I am a car owner. I’m not going to feel bad about the few little parts on my unicycle(s).

And what’s so bad about shipping Asian-made unicycles over by boat? Surely there would be more pollution if the same volume of stuff were transported that distance by truck or plane? Sure, all of this stuff pollutes. But if we’re going to be environmental zealots, we should make sure we never drive, don’t use air conditioning (it’s supposed to be 102º here today), and don’t eat processed foods, etc. :slight_smile:

Re: Re: Is MUNi damaging to the environment?

I think John’s reply is a really good summary. One thing I’d like to add from the desert perspective, now that more attention has been focused on Moab and slickrock riding. When riding in the desert slickrock environment, you should first try to limit the riding to existing trails (like Slickrock and Porcupine Rim for example), and not create new ones on the fly. Second, as much as possible try to limit yourself to riding on the rock versus in the sand or those few patches of dirt or greenery that might exist. If you have to ride off the rock, try to limit it to defined “washes” that are already subject to periodic cleansing from flash floods. Finally, and most importantly, avoid riding on cryptobiotic soil at all times. For those not familiar, cryptobiotic soil is the dark “crusty” soil found in desert landscapes, and it is vital to the survival of the ecosystem. This is “living” soil, consisting of micro-organic filaments that help to bind the sand together and capture moisture and nutrients. Mature patches of cryptobiotic crust can take hundreds of years to form, but can be wiped out in minutes by a marauding Gazz in full passion. It’s much tougher to damage the rock.

Re: Is MUNi damaging to the environment?

In article <>,
johnfoss <> wrote:
)The Munieer wrote:
)> *Tree stumps are small ecosystems in themselves. If we go up on top
)> and jump around, wouldn’t that severely impact that ecosystem? *
) Yes. In that we are off the trail when doing this, the damage is
)significantly more than just riding down the trail. Mountain bikers
)usually don’t practice Trials on the trails (at least I hardly ever see
)it), so it’s possible we do even more damage than the average bike when
)we practice Trials there.

But probably about the same amount as a hiker standing or sitting on
that same tree stump.

)- Don’t make huge wide spots around puddles. You know you’re probably
)going to get dirty anyway, so ride through the middle. Sometimes the
)trail gets many times wider than it should be due to a puddle.

Especially if it’s a hiking-only trail.

Re: Is MUNi damaging to the environment?

In theory almost every modern form of entertainment is damaging the envirnment, but no one asks or cares about that. for example, nascar, wow the fuel consumtion. do you ever hear anyone complaining that nascar is ruining the envirnment? I certainly dont. how about all the roads and constant car traffic. can that be helping at all? the way I see it is the time I spend riding in any situation is going to be better off than other things, like driving, or paintball. and heck, it’s alot more fun than just driving around.

Re: Re: Is MUNi damaging to the environment?

Actually about the same as a hiker jumping up and down on it, the same number of times as the unicycle. On the edges.

Hey, what are you doing on the hiking-only trail? :slight_smile:

This is also true for many of us. Some trails are bikes-only, some are hikers-only, or hikers and horses, and a few are multi-use. Riding on the hiking trails can get us a bad name among the trail users, especially the more paranoid equestrians (based on my experiences). This can reflect back on the other trails, which may also be open to the same equestrians for instance.

The offical line I offer is to only ride where bikes are allowed. If you simply must check out a hikers-only trail (which I may have done once or twice before), try not to be seen riding on it. People are less surprised to see someone carrying or rolling a unicycle than they are to see us riding them…

Re: Is MUNi damaging to the environment?

In article <>,
johnfoss <> wrote:
)Tom Holub wrote:
)> Especially if it’s a hiking-only trail.
) Hey, what are you doing on the hiking-only trail? :slight_smile:

Uh, I’m hiking.

My point is, you can look at hiking-only trails, trails which are
clearly too difficult to unicycle or bicycle, and they all have huge
pits around the muddy sections from people walking around the mud.
They also tend to have more shortcuts and other “volunteer” trails
than biking-oriented trails. It’s easier to walk around a mud pit, or
take a shortcut, on foot than it is on bike or unicycle.

I think the spectre of trail damage from biking is largely a canard,
used by isolationists and luddites. We should be smart about how we
use trails, but let’s not exaggerate the damage caused by a 200-pound
wheel compared to, say, a 1500-pound horse, or the herds of cattle many
trails around here are open to.

compare this thread:

we only get one environment, the park benches get replaced.

Re: Re: Is MUNi damaging to the environment?

This may be in line with your thinking anyway, but in the spirit of exercising my dogmatic chops, I’ll chime in anyway. Yes Nascar is damaging, and no you don’t often hear complaints, but the point relative to this thread is that Nascar is not building new speedways in the middle of pristine mountain environments. They’ve already trashed the environment where they’re located. I get Tom Holub’s point on isolationists and luddites, although at the same time, the degredation of our environment, growth of extinct species list, etc. is extreme, and needs to be fought extremely. That’s one reason you don’t find “compromise” high on the list of environmentalist skills…you give an inch, and you get Lake Powell.
Where’s this heading? Just this: as MUni riders, we need to be sensitive to the environment we ride in. Better to invest time in maintaining trails that exist then creating new ones. And similar to John Foss’s treatise on not chewing up urban structures, we need to think about other users of the mountain and wilderness environment. I think it was Abbey that said the wilderness belongs to everyone, and to no one. -30- end of dogmatic spew.

Re: Is MUNi damaging to the environment?

>the way I
>see it is the time I spend riding in any situation is going to be better
>off than other things, like driving, or paintball.

Paintballs are biodegradable.


Re: Re: Is MUNi damaging to the environment?

Yeah they are, eventually. I’v heard that at designated paintball locations there can a bunch of them that haven’t gone off, just like Airsoft bb’s are biodegradable, but it takes time. what if a bird decides to eat a paintball and it pops in it’s throat, well it didn’t degrade fast enough. same with airsoft, but man are there a ton more bb’s on the ground when playing airsoft, and they are most likely to be eaten. I don’t know where I’m going here, maybe it’s that as long as we don’t ride off the trails too much we’ll be ok, but I was just saying earlier that Muni cant be the worst on the environment. and maybe I’m just in a random rant mood.

To all those who are having trouble sleeping at night from the guilt that your Muni is destroying the earth, let me help you put your weary minds to rest. Send your Muni’s to me. I will promise that I will not lose a minutes sleep.

Also I would much rather see “greenspace” dedicated to trails where only 10% of the land is used, than a new apartment complex or some other industrial site. Besides, if it were not for the trails, who is going to be able to see and understand the need for natural spaces in the world.

I’d say that it’s most likely damaging, but it would only crunch a few plants and maybe kill some ants. If you rode over tree stumps, that wouldn’t be TOO bad. I guess it’s damaging but not polluting or ruining. A car would be about 10x as worse.

I’d guess that more damaging than actually riding, is driving to places to ride. A lot of us drive longish distances to ride muni.

I use public transport to get to most of my riding, but I still get lifts to places quite often.


I think one of the biggst reason I love MUni so much is because it gives me a chance to get out into the open, away from fumes and pollution, and enjoy the countryside. I should think anyone who rides for these reasons must have some idea of what’s damaging and what isn’t and therefor also have respect for the countryside. Sure, jumping on logs is going to damage ‘something’ but not to the extent of many other outdoors hobbies.

With this view, MUni must be one of the most eco-friendly past-times about. (Except of course shipping, production of materials etc. :wink: ) If you are taking these factors into account, then hiking would also be very damaging. Most walking boots are made of leather, in which the tanning proccess is extremely damaging to the environment, plus it is killing animals. (no more comments about being veggie please!)

Right on!

But minor damage to the environment grows back, rather than accumulates… :stuck_out_tongue: