This article was originally written some time ago, but shelved because it seemed outside the norm of our standard article fair. However, with recent events, it seems like maybe an "outside our normal" article was needed. Dusted off and ready to go, here it is. Due to nature of the article, we will be turning off the comments for this one.
If you read the title of this article and began hate typing a comment about “social justice warriors” or “white privilege” or the “patriarchy”. Just stop for a moment. There is a real issue here, with real questions and maybe real answers.
Can we, as mountain bikers, name trails in a way we find funny, cute or ironic, and in doing so create hurt feelings or harm to others? How do we know if a concern is legitimate? What can we do if we find a trail name offensive?
“Be a team player.” You probably have heard that phrase from the first years of your schooling. It’s almost always used in conjunction with the idea that doing a project or activity with others will produce a better result. Whether that is always true is debatable.
But the one area where collaboration can produce positive results is in the field of urban mountain biking public meetings and in trail layout. And there is one method that manages to take both those disparate parts of the process and combine them. That method is known as Collaborative Ecological Layout.
Why should we consider this method? What is Collaborative Ecological Layout? How does it solve many of the issues common to mountain biking trail proposals in urban areas?
On some medieval maps, unexplored areas where marked with drawings of monsters with the cheeky warning, “Here be dragons”. It was a way to denote unspecified dangers lurk outside of a known area. Today, Google Maps doesn’t have dragons or sea creatures at the edge of the map. Most of us would scoff at the idea that out there, somewhere, is a place with unknown monsters waiting for us.
But do we believe in a different type of dragon that might live outside our local area of comfort? Maybe those dragons, they vote different than we do. Maybe they worship different than us. Maybe they enjoy a different type of work than we do. Maybe they live in a part of the country we have preconceptions about. Maybe those dragons don’t seem as sophisticated as us.
For many things, “local” should be default. We want local schools. We want to shop at local stores. We want local produce. We want local beer. But “local” can become a way to isolate ourselves, to avoid in other words, the things we consider to be dragons.
Believe it or not, this same belief in the dragons out there can affect how we make urban mountain biking happen.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.