Mountain Biker breaking through a thousand mile banner

Did you know that there are over 1000 miles of biking opportunities – with no motor vehicles – on Cape Cod? Not just all of our wonderful single-track but also fire roads and mutli-use paths such as the Cape Cod Rail Trail. There are many studies (see below) that examine the impacts of mountain biking on the environment. This page will also include other documents that our mountain biking community can use to improve relations with other trail users and the community at large.

Scientific Literature Comparing the Impact of Mountain Biking and Hiking on Trails

“The existing body of research does not support the prohibition or restriction of mountain biking from a resource or environmental protection perspective.”

“In general, studies have shown that there is no statistically significant difference in induced soil erosion, excavation, incision (ruts), and trail widening between biking and hiking, and both are far less impactful than horse riding.”

“The authors found that foot- and hoof-powered activities (hiking and horseback riding) had a greater erosive potential than did wheeled activities (off-road vehicles and mountain bikes). This effect was found to be especially pronounced when going downhill”.

“These results indicate that at a similar intensity of activity, the short-term impacts of mountain biking and hiking may not differ greatly in the undisturbed area of a deciduous forest habitat.”

“Studies that have examined the evidence widely conclude that the charge against mountain bikes simply does not stick.”
“I found there’s very little statistical difference in physical impact on a trail between a hiker and a mountain bicyclist”
“There was no significant difference in the direct physical impacts of hikers and mountain bikers.”

“In some places, wildlife follow mountain bike
trails, especially where the mountain bike trails followed existing game trails. In winter, less effort is needed by wildlife to travel during heavy snow periods if they follow trails.”

“There is some indication that increased familiarity with biking and accumulated experience of encounters with bikes may change the hazard perceptions of walkers.”

Other Resources

“Through a program of community education, continued enforcement efforts, and
widespread condemnation of irresponsible recreation vehicle use via written and
online media, it is possible to deter much of the illegal behavior that is now
prevalent on Cape Cod.”