Trail association bands together to try to ban bikes

Published on July 15, 2014

The East Coast Trail Association (ECTA) reaffirmed in a news release Tuesday it would continue to advocate for the popular trail to remain for hikers only and not for the use of mountain bikes.

The issue of bikes on the trail became prevalent this past weekend when a mountain bike tour company from Ontario led a group of people on bikes along certain legs of the East Coast Trail (ECT).

ECTA president Randy Murphy spoke with The Telegram on Monday to express concerns over having bikes on the trails with hikers.

Meanwhile, members of the biking community have been lobbying for the trail to be shared-use, suggesting that an “us versus them” attitude isn’t necessary when the success of shared-use trails has already been proven in this province and beyond.

Murphy told The Telegram Monday the ECTA board would be meeting that evening to assess how the story of bikes on the trail had played out in the media and with the public. There’s also a tentative meeting planned between the ECTA, the province’s Department of Tourism and the company having bike tours on the ECT.

“The issue of commercial mountain biking tours on the East Coast Trail has raised serious concerns for the long term protection of the East Coast Trail as a pedestrian hiking trail,” the release from the ECTA reads.

“Guided by its mission and values to provide a safe, wilderness hiking experience with minimal impact on the natural environment — the East Coast Trail Association today reiterated that it cannot endorse the use of the East Coast Trail for mountain biking.”

The release goes on to list safety, trail sensitivity, and issues with private and crown land permission as reasons for keeping the trail hiker only.

“This issue of commercial use of the trail for mountain biking tours has made us realize that our ability to protect the trail from these kinds of intrusions is more fragile that we would like,” Murphy says in the release. “The East Cost Trail Association intends to take this opportunity to seek more robust measures to help assure the future conservation and protection of the trail.”

The ECTA has no legal right to keep bikers off the trail and nor does the provincial government at this time.