Resolving trail bike conflicts

Steve Pretzel is co-founder of Trail Bike Management - a consultancy established in 2006 to address the many issues around trail bikes.

Having returned to riding trail bikes in his forties, Steve discovered that riders had no political voice, and the actions of some riders were jeopardising the future for all.

He established the Recreational Trailbike Riders Association as an advocacy group for riders, but as the scale of the issues became apparent he set up Trail Bike Management Pty Ltd so he could focus more time and energy on the issue.

Steve and his co-director Valerie Pretzel developed the State Trail Bike Strategy and have since undertaken several strategic and hands on projects for local councils and the state Department of Environment and Conservation.

Wind the clock back a few years and mountain bikes were just seen as a problem. Illegal trail building, conflicts with walkers and horse riders, damage to the environment...

These days the 'problem' tag has been replaced by one that screams 'opportunity'.

Using the experiences of their human-powered brethren as a model, recreational trail bike riders are engaging in coordinated and professional advocacy activities to improve the image - and behaviour - of trail bike riders.

The results, particularly in Western Australia are encouraging. Trail bikes are now included in the State Trails Strategy, budgets have been allocated for purpose-built trail bike trails in State Forests, and initiatives are underway to better balance the needs of riders, other trail users, the environment and the community.

Steve and Valerie Pretzel created Trail Bike Management Australia in 2006 as a consultancy to help the various stakeholders grapple with the 'problem' of trail bikes at a time when there were lots of questions but no answers.

In his presentation Steve will outline the progress - and the ultimate vision. The mountain bike community may have provided a compass but this is a trail without a map, and the journey has only just begun.