Mountain biking brings money into our community.
This past Family Day I chatted with a group of Vancouver area bikers who enjoyed the trails along the B&K Road corridor and compared the experience favourably to the legendary North Shore.
A study by the Mountain Bike Tourism Association claimed that mountain biking contributed more than $10 million to the economy of the Sea to Sky corridor in 2008. Another published source estimated the return to the North Shore economy at $20 to $30 million per year. The numbers may be challenged, but they do indicate a substantial and growing form of tourism.
Why are our trails remarkable? First, they are almost entirely created and maintained by the volunteer efforts of enthusiastic mountain bikers. Second, they run through some of the most attractive and easily accessible forests in the province. These old forests have a sheltering canopy which intercepts precipitation, prevents the ground from freezing, and restricts low growth, promoting long sight distances and reducing trail maintenance.
Within our community we have expert riders and trail builders, great bicycle shops, organized mountain bike clubs, the now world famous Sprockids program, and Capilano University programs which explore mountain biking from trail building to guiding. What we don't have is a secure land base. Our most attractive old forests are on Crown land, always threatened by logging.
The potential economic gain from expanding mountain bike tourism will far exceed the one-time in 80-year benefit from logging. Can we have both trails and logging? We have built a superb mountain bike trail system through wonderful old forests and that is why visitors come.
If we protect our opportunities and support the knowledge and interest within our community, we can attract more mountain bike tourism.