"No Bicycles" / "Pedestrians Only"

I’m getting to know my local trails through muni.
This morning I drove to a trail but found it had a “No Bicycles” sign. Yeah, I’m not riding a bike, but I stayed off anyway, assuming they mean “No Wheeled Riding Vehicles”. I had another trail to explore anyway.

I drove to the other trail. It had no restriction signs but led to yet another trail that said “Pedestrians Only”. I’m trying to explore these trails for future muni, biking, and hiking, so I really didn’t want to turn around. So I rode it.

Along the way I encountered an older man hiking. He angrily said, “Are they calling that thing a pedestrian now? The signs say pedestrians only.” Before I could even talk to him he was walking away.

My town has an organization that takes care of the trails. In fact, yesterday I passed by a group of people carrying rakes. That must have been members of the trail group, out to do some maintenance. I can’t help but wonder if they’ve been talking about the guy on the unicycle lately.

The trail organization have monthly meetings and I’m going to go to the next one.


I’d at least like to find out which trails are not restricted to me. But I’d also like to understand why some trails are restricted, and ideally get them unrestricted to unicycles, if not bicycles too. That’s probably a bit much to accomplish in the first meeting, but with all this in mind…

Does anyone have suggestions on how to approach this? What should I or shouldn’t say or ask? The meeting is in less than 24 hours, so I hope I can prepare in time.

I hate to say it, but if it’s for pedestrians, they’re trying to keep the trail in good shape, and the cold hard truth is that a unicycle is harder on the trail than even a bicycle, because more weight is on that wheel. It’s really bad when it’s wet.

I would go to the meeting and ask them directly, if it’s ok or not, and why.

Suggest that the trails be closed in wet weather to bikes. That’s what they do around my area : )

I tend to disagree. I ride the trail in my town a lot and the only thing i have ever seen from it is the actual tread imprint on the ground here and there(especially in the softer dirt) I see mark after mark from bikes using thier breaks where you can tell they actually kicked up dirt. I dont see how my unicycle was harder on the trail than that bike.

It really matters why bikes are not allowed on the trails and how they are marked.

Pedestrian Only generally means walk, I would not even try to get permission to ride there. On the other had No Bikes is much more open and depending on the reason for bikes not being allowed on the trail unicycles might be OK

If the ban on bikes is to avoid excessive erosion or other harm to the trail best not to try there either. On the other hand if it is a safety precaution to avoid bike/ped conflicts especially someone on a mountain bike bombing down a hill vs pedestrian either walking up or down at a much slower pace.

If that is the case then you could point out that unicycling generally puts the rider at a jogging pace and assuming a reasonable skill level of the rider would pose no more danger than a jogger.

I actually feel that bikes are way harder on trails than muni. Bike skid and go fast, muni’s don’t. A muni’s impact is simililar to hiking, because at one point during your stride all your weight is on one foot, just like a muni tire. Sure, the muni has weight, but so does a backpack. They go a bit faster than a hiker, so they do a bit more damage, but nothing compared to what a bike does.

Whoa whoa whoa, who is using breaks on the trail? They aren’t being good singlespeeders, it’s all about momentum! xP

really I hadn’t thought of that. . . .

I don’t think going there asking to ride a unicycle will be taken seriously.

Like juggleaddict said, I think your best bet would be to try and get them to allow biking when trails are dry.

First, you should be aware of what you’re getting into. Debates over trail access are as old as mountain biking, and most meetings of trail groups consist of people who’ve already heard all the arguments and generally aren’t interested in them; they have their position and they’re at the meeting to promote it. The way you should approach it, if you want to get into it, is to show up trying to get as much information as you can about trail politics in your area, and find out what you can do to help with advocacy efforts. The people who don’t want bikes on the trails will not be swayed by an argument that a uni is not a bike, and there’s nothing that you can do alone to change their minds or get any more legal access to trails. You’ll need to work with your local group. http://www.imba.com/contacts/near_you/new_york.html is a place to start.

It is important to note that facts about trail usage are really not relevant to the discussion. Bikes and unis do not do any more damage to trails than hikers do, and they do considerably less damage than horses or cows, which are frequently allowed in trail system areas. But no number of studies which reach the same conclusion will sway the opponents of biking.

We had many of the same debates in Wellington, where Unicon is being held. When mountainbiking first arrived, there were groups of walkers who were dead against having to share their trails with mountainbikers.

Regardless of whether mountainbikes do more damage than unicycles or pedestrians, the best approach is usually the tactful one. The same goes with unicycling. Instead of some of aggression I’ve seen from people on here, all they do is ruin it for others.

There are still a few trails closed off to MTBkers in Wellington, but it’s almost all open to us now. The reason of course, is that we have a very active mountainbike community who go out there to maintain trails. In fact, I believe most of the tracks around here were either build by mountainbikers, or maintained by the local mountainbike clubs.

10/10 for asking and thinking about engaging the local group and not just ‘ride and be damned’.

The ‘change-from-within’ solution.suggestion strikes me as being the most sensible at this point.

How many people are riding in your area?

If you could get them together to make an effort to help with the maintenance you’ll probably be taken a lot more seriously when a discussion does arise.

Thanks for the suggestions so far guys.

I think my goals tonight will be:

  • To learn about which trails allow bicycles. There are still a lot of trails I haven’t visited in my area yet. Hopefully I can ride some of these, and this will tide me over for a while.

  • To learn who’s who. Who leads and how are decisions made? Are they all hikers? Any bikers? Any unicyclists? ha!

  • To learn about any upcoming trail maintenance events that I can volunteer for. I probably need to be one of the group in order to be listened to.

  • To introduce them to the concept of muni. Hopefully some of them have already seen me on some (legal) trails and will help substantiate my crazy talk. I’m actually hoping someone brings up their latest unicycle sighting without knowing that I’m there. I’m curious to see what their candid reactions are.

  • To be polite and non-confrontational. I want to be sure they don’t have any reason to think of me or unicyclists in a negative light.

  • To AVOID bringing up anything about relaxing trail restrictions. It’s too early. They’ve almost definitely “been there, done that”. They’re not going to change things overnight for an outsider. They’ll probably won’t really believe that muni is for real, and it will take time to show them.

I was going to ask your source for why unicycles are harder on trails than bikes, but this makes it clear it didn’t come from actual knowledge about the subject. Please remember to separate your opinion from stuff you toss out as fact. Unicycles don’t skid. Bikes skidding is the main source of erosion on trails (dry ones like in my area). In wetter areas, bikes make big fat tire tracks around puddles, widening the trail. Don’t know if hikers do the same though. Anyway, unicycles have less impact on trails than bikes for two reasons. We don’t skid, and there will always be way, way less of us.

Compared to hikers though, I’m not sure. I don’t know where tholub gets his information on hikers and bikes having equal impact on trails either; I’d like to hear more about that.

But mostly what tholub said is right on. The struggles over access are longstanding, and the best way to sway opinions, if possible, is to become a part of the trail process. Here I am a member of FATRAC, my local trail advocacy organization. They do trailwork, and even trail creation. The nice thing about them is that they often team up with other groups, such as equestrian groups, to work on trails together. Most of the newer trails in this area were built to be multi-use.

But I’m getting away from the topic. Logic is not a useful tool in trail advocacy, so I wouldn’t worry about whether a unicycle is closer to a hiker, a bike, or whatever in trail impact. Also, I don’t recommend you try to create a separate category for unicycles anyway, because it probably has no chance of working out unless you have a group of people willing to speak up for it, do trailwork, join local associations, etc. Also IMHO life would be much simpler if we were classified as bikes, at least on the trails. You don’t have to agree with that, and I definitely support your efforts to learn about and get involved with your local trail groups.

Talk to the mountainbikers or bike shops in the area and see what they know of the trail situation. People who are into the local trails will know which ones are legal, and possibly a lot more if you find the right ones. If you team up with the bikers you become part of a large group that probably already has a voice, and can have an impact on the situation.

Sounds perfect. I don’t have much to add other than wishing you good luck.

We do skid, bodily sometimes.

There are a number of studies on the subject, and pretty much every one has said the same thing; in terms of magnitude, biking impact on trails is similar to hiking impact on trails, with equestrian use of trails being significantly more damaging than either. The types of damage found on biking trails are different than those found on hiking trails, but the magnitude is similar. (Hikers are more likely to cut corners, for example, while bikes are more likely to ride on berms).

http://www.americantrails.org/resources/ManageMaintain/WKeenImpacts.html is a good place to start for info.

I was lately in brittany and went to a trail along the sea which is for pedestrian only… the fine is 130 Euros.

my arguments if ever “caught”:

  • I noticed the the impact of my gazz was less than those of runner shoes.
    I can show it …
  • when meeting other passers-by I always dismount and gives way and thus got no sad remark (quite the contrary: people engage in conversation about muni)
  • In France the law explicitly states that when riding at less than 6km/hour you are considered as a pedestrian (but I suspect cops of not knowing this detail)
    • other arguments …

the only risk is that I ride very silently and nearly squashed some rabbits.

until now the euros have been spent on beer …

Besides not skidding, I think we’d have the same impact on a trail as a mountain bike. Whether you’re on two wheels, three wheels or one wheel you are still pressing down onto the ground by the same weight. Obviously the weight distribution is different but I’d imagine somebody 200 lbs pressing down on one wheel in the mud would leave a deeper imprint than the same guy on a mountain bike. I can speak from experience from riding on wet trails, unintentially, that my single fat tire was leaving as much, or more of a foot print as a bicycle. Granted though, mountain unicyclists typicall run fatter tires and lower psi than mountain bikers do. I’ve seen deep mountain bike tire gouges in trails mainly because they’re running their narrow tires at a pretty close to max psi!

But I think tholub is pretty close to the reality with the idea that the overall impact to trails is about the same for bikes and hikers. We can’t come close to the wear & tear caused by the horsies (+riders). Those horses are just awfully darn heavy! Plus, if it ever comes to an argument, don’t forget to mention that we cyclists and hikers hardly ever take a dump in the middle of the trail, and certainly not of similar dimensions! :smiley:

If/when it’s time to debate, it’s good to know there have been studies suggesting hikers and bikers have a similar impact. I’ll have to read the details later.

If the trail impact argument becomes moot, then there’s still this concern:

Coming around corners can be a surprise too.

Walkers, runners, bikers, unicyclists… I think they all startle each other at some point.

After being alone in the woods for a while, just seeing another person usually gives me a bit of a start. I don’t know if everyone else does it, but when I’m in the woods, I think I instinctively size the person up in terms of threat level. Maybe I need to chill? Maybe I’ve seen too many horror flicks.

Early detection is the best protection. Wait… what are talking about again? :stuck_out_tongue: Making noise helps to broadcast your presence. So maybe some kind of bike bell is a solution.

Then again, what happens when two runners come at each other on a trail? They get a bit startled, smile and move on. That’s just how it works.

How fast to people ride muni? I think I can muni as fast as I can run. Maybe this is where the distinction between bicycles and unicycles (on a trail) becomes important.

Maybe the signs should really be speed limit signs.

Which brings me back to my fundamental frustration… these signs are really just the most brief way to approximate the real intention.
Arguably the better sign would say “Don’t hurt the trail. Don’t startle or hurt the people. Don’t too much noise or too little. Take out whatever you take in.”
Maybe at some point someone just felt like “Pedestrians Only” or “No Bicycles” eliminated their concerns. But it may have also unintentionally limited other people for no reason.

But remember that’s just one part of the argument. Then there’s the speed aspect, the horses-being-scared-by-bikes aspect, the hikers-don’t-like-bikes aspect, etc.

The only way a bike can sneak up on a hiker/runner is if they’re wearing headphones. Otherwise you’d have to be just inching along. Unicycles are quieter, but it’s still hard to sneak up.

Because they’re both runners, they can’t call attention to any obvious differences between them; they’re forced to get along. Because they go at about the same speed, have the same impact, etc. there’s no conflict. But some runners/some equestrians/some cyclists want the trails to themselves. The key is perhaps to encourage them to all get along. It works on several of my local trails.

Short answer: Slower than bikes, about as fast as runners. Long answer: too long to be useful so why bother? Basically, some people ride really slow and some go really fast, but the vast majority fall into the short answer category.

Note: The trails in the FATRAC area all have a 15 mph speed limit. It’s rarely posted on signs (who wants large, detailed signs cluttering the trails?) but it’s part of the general rules for trail use, including right-of-way and other stuff that should be common sense but isn’t.

Don’t be a jerk. : ( Unicycles do skid. (especially if you’re jumping) They also have more weight on the wheel, and if it’s mudpit-wet on the trail (like it is near my area sometimes) you will literally sink into the trail if you’re going too slow. I think I had a valid reason to give my input, and I don’t think you had to tell me that I was stupid to get your point across. I don’t see sources at the bottom of your posts either. It is the internet after all, : P you should never actually believe anything that comes from here whole heartedly.

Less unicycles than bikes has nothing to do with it, it’s your personal impact on the trail, biker, hiker, whatever you’re doing. I will say after a second thought, you’re probably right, a uni shouldn’t make as much impact on a trail as a biker.