Edmonton mountain bikers are opposing a City of Edmonton scheme they claim will prohibit cycling on 90 per cent of the river valley trail network.
They say the City’s latest update to its more than 20-year-old “Ribbon of Green” plan to modernize the river valley amounts to a nearly all-out ban on mountain biking in one of Canada’s greatest natural urban environments.
The plan, which is scheduled to go before council midway through next year, limits activities in greater swaths of the valley – classified as “preservation areas” – to “foot-based travel” only to “facilitate the quiet enjoyment and appreciation of nature,” and to reduce “user conflicts.”
It suggests trail cycling is incompatible with ecological preservation.
“It’s there in black and white,” said Edmonton Mountain Bike Alliance (EMBA) president Joe Yurkovich. “The maps designate almost everything that’s not a golf course or an EPCOR facility as preservation,” he said.
Off-road cyclists have voluntarily maintained and connected a network of river valley trails that in many cases existed before mountain biking became popular in the last few decades.
“[Today] we have an extensive network that is a very valuable asset for our city and our quality of life,” Yurkovich said.
The plan’s stance on biking has some scratching their heads given the City’s investment in and promotion of bike lanes.
“The City has a suite of other plans, policies and strategies that embrace cycling and aim to increase cycling … which would be completely in discord with a river valley plan that put restrictions on and limited access to mountain biking,” says a Feb. 28 open letter from the mountain biking community, signed by more than 40 stakeholders.