One of the strange things about urban mountain biking is that it’s not completely codified. That is, while we have techniques or methods we know that work, there is always room for new (and sometimes) better ideas. While there are a certain range of user management techniques, for instance, some group or location could create something new that would be added to the menagerie or even replace an existing technique.
One of these new methods is currently arising in Minnesota, one that seems to address situations applicable across the country. This new method is walk-through kiosks.
Old school kiosks
Before we explain a bit about walk-through kiosks, let’s talk about the accepted method of doing kiosks.
The current method of doing kiosks was really codified in the United States with the Civil Conservation Corps (CCC) projects of the 1930s. Those methods were copied because many parks were upgraded significantly by the CCC during this time. As people visited the parks they got used to seeing infrastructure as the CCC had created it. Land managers of all stripes believed that if it worked for national parks, it would work for other public properties. And for the time they were right.
The large kiosk, positioned off the trail entrance and exits, but near the parking lot, had a lot of advantages. It was a focus of attention for those arriving. It became a sort of community space where all those coming to that location could gather around see the ‘lay of the land’ so to speak. For many sites, this type of kiosk setup still makes sense. But not everywhere.
Times, they are a changin’
The modern world, with its push notifications and easy access to answers have got us used to the idea of just asking Siri. With trail and mapping apps, the art of knowing where you are has lost its necessity. The result has been that fewer and fewer users seem to have the patience to approach a kiosk to learn about how to use the recreational amenities.
On top of the attention span problem, with most trails that allow mountain biking, several other layers of information need to be conveyed to users. First, for liability reasons, the safety requirements of the trail must be listed: wear a helmet, direction of travel, closures, etc. Second, for trails with mountain biking, they often close during times when the trail tread is soft, i.e. during rain events. A method to denote this closure is required. Third, in urban areas especially, there would likely be some form of user management techniques. While the goal is to make those techniques “idiot proof”, there is some level of information that needs to be conveyed to the users.
Walk-through kiosks are an attempt to address all the issues mentioned above.
First, we should address what constitutes a walk-through kiosk. A walk-through kiosk consists of at least one panel (usually two), with an arch, either separate or created by the kiosk itself with some type of gate with a sign that the trail users will enter through.
The purpose of this design is simple enough that it really doesn’t require that much explanation. By forcing users to literally walk through the kiosk to gain entrance to the trail, it means they will be directly adjacent to the information displayed by the kiosk. The arch with the gate allows a way to denote that the trails are closed. Rarely is the gate such that user couldn’t get around it, but its purpose isn’t to act as an ultimate barrier to trail access. Its purpose is to make it clear trails are closed. These gates can be as simple as a chain with a sign attached or a tubular cattle gate.
Here are some examples of walk though kiosks:
Ultimately, walk-through kiosks are becoming more popular. For urban trails, the combination of putting the rules and regulations in the user’s vision and having a clear way to denote closed trails is unbeatable. For even non-urban trail systems, there might be something to learn from walk-through kiosks.
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