Was the sentence fair for the crime?
Most of the time trail hazards in mountain biking are a mere nuisance. Sometimes though, they can be perilous, and that’s when things start to get serious.
Stray trail dogs, hikers and horses can normally be forgiven in the grand scheme of things, but when sheer malice comes into it, it gets truly concerning. That’s what happened when British Columbia resident Tieneke Kraal started to sabotage her local trails on a regular basis – dragging rocks and logs onto the paths in order to try and slow the riders down.
Kraal is reported by CBC to have left anywhere between 10 and 40 logs on the Skull trail in BC, getting up between the hours of 4am and 6am every single day with her two dogs in order to do exactly that.
This sabotage went on for 2 years before mountain bikers finally caught her with motion-sensor cameras. She was "very sorry" and received a suspended sentence, 3 years probation and 150 hours of community service. They have stipulated her community service would not involve mountain bike trails for her own safety because she was worried mountain bikers would hurt her. Ironic.
This isn't the only case of sabotage on shared biker/hiker trails. I've personally seen odd logs on the path that don't look like they were meant to be there or naturally fell on the path. At the very least, it's an inconvenience. It could also lead to serious injury or be life-threatening.
The sentence seems quite light. I wish they did have her work with the mountain biking trails in hopes she would humanize the people impacted by her actions. I don't think there truly is a risk of mountain bikers hurting her.
The other discussion? Should there be shared trails? Is there enough space to comfortably accommodate both hikers and mountain bikers? I haven't seen very many trails wide enough to comfortably fit both groups.
Personally, when I hike, I avoid shared trails and opt to hike on hiking-only trails. As a mountain biker, I am not a big fan of shared trails. Why? I am going at a faster speed and sometimes there are a lot of hikers and they are spread all over the path. No matter how many times I yell ahead when I spot them, sometimes they don't move out of the way i.e. walking 3-4 people wide across the path and not paying attention to cyclists on the path. Even if there are strictly enforced laws about sabotaging shared trails, I don't know that it will solve the issue. Will that truly discourage people from sabotage? In the case of the women who go caught by a camera, she was visiting the trails at 4 am. She knew what she was doing was wrong and chose to do this in the dark to avoid getting caught.
I wonder what would happen to someone who left a few logs on Lake Shore Drive! Community service? Big deal. Probation? Big deal. If effect, she was given no sentence at all.
At least these were very visible obstructions. Not like fishing line 7ft above the ground, where hikers walk under them and bicyclists don't see them and get a serious cut on the neck.
She's not pathological, she's just an environmentalist. And she believes humans don't have the right to trash nature and other species just for their selfish pleasure.
In Europe, where she is from, they actually exclude human presence in their forests for portions of the year when animals are breeding...usually spring time. Even hikers are excluded.
If you've ever visited some of those mountain communities out west, you know what environmental degradation is caused by 'mountain biking.' First of all, much of it is done on special very heavy 'downhill' bikes, that are carried, with riders, to the top of mountains by vehicles or ski lifts; there is no way you could ride those heavy bikes up there. Then people pay on a per-ride basis, to come screaming down well-established trails and through the forests by the thousands. The entire forest is turned into a torn-up mess. Very little biking skill is required; it is more like an amusement park ride.
I don't blame Ms Kraal from feeling outrage.
I agree 100% that we as riders need to be mindful of our impact on nature, and we should eliminate/minimize things that we do that can cause a harmful affect on wildlife.
That said, the third paragraph of your post indicates that you would benefit from doing a little research before you offer opinions. As such, I'd like to correct you on a few things if you'll indulge me.
1. "Very little biking skill is required; it is more like an amusement park ride."
-- If you'd like to join me at Whistler to come "screaming down" a lift-serviced trail and gauge the amount of biking skill required, I'm totally game. And when the medevac flies in to whisk you to the nearest trauma center because you tumbled head-first into a rock, maybe you might change your opinion.
2. "The entire forest is turned into a torn-up mess."
-- Ummm, no. The truth of the matter is that they're going down what during the winter time are ski runs. They are using land that is already been cleared and is in use for recreation.
3. "you know what environmental degradation is caused by 'mountain biking.'"
-- Most trails, particularly new trails, are built to very strict guidelines set forth by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA). These guidelines take into account a wide variety of environmental impacts, such as erosion, habitat, etc.
Prior to that, mountain bikers were riding on EXISTING trails cut for horseback riding and hiking. That's when the environmental impact was taking place.
4. Trail fees are often used to improve the entire park, so in a roundabout sense, mountain bikers can help improve their environments. On top of that, local mountain bike organizations do a LOT of volunteer work maintaining their local parks and trails.
5. Some studies have concluded that mountain biking on properly created and maintained trails has a lower impact than hiking. Certainly a lower impact than horseback riding and off-road motorized vehicles. Should we set horse traps too?
I mean, using your logic, your house sits on what was once a forest or a prairie. Should Ms. Kraal come in and set traps in your hallway...particularly during times of year when animals are breeding? I mean that linoleum floor of yours sits where a baby fox once lay. I certainly wouldn't blame Ms Kraal from feeling outrage about that.
Well from the linked article, it is obvious that the BC mountain bikers overstepped, and were not 'mindful of their impact on nature' at all:
...The trails in question were on Fromme Mountain: Skull Trail...designated for mountain bikers...[and] Quarry Court, even though they weren't supposed to [bike on that trail]....
And from the Sierra Club's position paper on mountain biking:
The Sierra Club is concerned about the effects of use of bicycles off-road. Concerns have been raised about effects such as soil erosion, impacts on plants and animals, displacement of other trail users, and impacts on other users' safety and enjoyment. These concerns argue for special regulation, with effective enforcement of off-road bicycling.
Whistler has a downhill bike park where bikes are rented and trails maintained. Unfortunately mountain bikers are using many other trails, and enforcement is lax. You might be willing to ride these clunkers back up to the top of the mountain. But for most people, it is strictly a downhill amusement, fueled by fossils.
Clearly landmines are called for.
"She's just an environmentalist." Now I understand. She should of been planting car bombs and poisoning children's milk. Humans are a menace (and amazing in their ability to rationalize their behaviors.)
There are legitimate means to express one's environmental beliefs other than trying to kill someone. That's why we have laws. I do agree that mountain biking can be environmentally detrimental, which is why I, as a mountain biker, have chosen to temper said destruction with behaviors that balance my environmental impact.
Right.... She was so concerned about native species breeding habits that she did this with her two dogs in toe. I mean, everyone knows that hiking through a forest on marked trails with two dogs tagging along itself has no environmental impact on native species.
She didn't want mountain bikers on the trails because she wanted to be able to hike them herself without having to yield space. She wasn't on some noble quest to give the land entirely back to nature. Give me a break.
Well, said. This behavior is completely sociopathic and part of a larger issue of treating people inhumanely because of a self righteous attitude. I'm horrified at the thought of how hurt I/anyone could get in a situation like that.
Yeah I try to limit my air travel to a single RT flight per year; you're right, air travel is very costly to our environment. And I haven't owned a car in 35+ years...saved more than $600 000 by doing so after compounding. No one who lives & works in Chicago needs to own a car these days. And my motivation is primarily environmental...but I'm not going to wear 'hair shirts' and live like a monk.
Why do I support Ms Kraal's campaign? I dislike the whole concept of mountain biking mainly because the Cook Co. Forest Preserves have been forced to ban a lot of low-impact activities I enjoy...in order to ban mountain bikes and get control of the destruction they have created. So we all lose...thanks to mountain bikers.