WNYMBA met with Erie County last week to discuss Fat Biking in Erie County Parks. As most of you are aware, anywhere we can bike in the summer time we can bike in the winter with fat bikes, with the one local exception being we were told last year that we were to stay off the XC ski loop at Sprague (also, down in Allegany, the XC trails there are groomed for classic technique skiing and open only to skiers). We met to present the research on the effects of fat bikes (3.7" minimum tire size, 10 psi maximum pressure) on groomed trails - in other words that there is no impact. Unlike regular mountain bikes, fat bikes do not sink into packed trails. Of course, fat bikes (like hiking or showshoeing) can destroy set tracks (i.e. the two parallel grooves) and need to stay off of them.
The county was amenable to our suggestion. Because the XC trails at Sprague can get extremely crowded when there is snow (which seems to be a rare occurence again this year), we discussed setting a trial period of opening the section from the end of Bridges Trail to the kiosk. This would allow fat bikes to access the single track.
100% approval is not granted yet, but we expect to hear from them soon. Remember, just as bikes yield to hikers, they would yield to skiers as well. Remember that some skiers struggle to stay upright, so this is very important! If this trial is granted, WNYMBA would put up signage directing bikes to the bridges trail and to the singletrack. Keep those fingers crossed.
During the meeting, we pointed out that "fat bikes" as we were discussing are *not* the same as the vehicles used by the local outfit buffalofatbikes.com (which are bikes with an electric motor on the front wheel), just to make sure there was no confusion. The parks people understood the distinction and said that motorized bikes are not allowed on county trails.
We got some snow this weekend, so hopefully, we will get this permission officially sometime this week.
(edit: I added in a note about Allegany. The XC trails there are groomed only for diagonal (classic) technique. There is no skating track. So those trails will remain skiing only. Note, hikers and showshoers are also prohibited from those groomed trails).