County Considering Allowing Fat Bikes on Portions of Sprague XC Trail

fat tireWNYMBA 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 (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).

County Parks Master Plan starts - WNYMBA is on the job!

eriesealImagine just a 2 mile XC ski loop at Sprague Brook and a couple of wet snowmobile trails; that’s it. Imagine sheriff deputies ticketing your car at Hunters Creek because it was closed. Imagine having just about no place to ride in Erie County. Imagine not being allowed to help build or maintain trails anywhere in the county.

For many of us, we don’t have to imagine. That was the situation in Erie County in 2001. WNYMBA had been around for 9 years, but had met only a stone wall talking with the county. It all changed when the county started their master planning process that year. WNYMBA kicked it into high gear and got involved in every way possible.

Today look at what we have got: Hunters Creek is now open for bicycles! The adopted master plan incorporated WNYMBA’s suggestion of developing a new singletrack trail system at Sprague Brook, which WNYMBA started work on in 2004 and has been a success beyond everyone’s wildest dreams. Volunteers are now allowed in the parks, and the county recognizes WNYMBA as one of their best, if not the best volunteer organization they have.

Well it’s that time again.

Erie County kicked of their latest master planning initiative – the first since that plan 15 years ago. And once again, WNYMBA is on the case. We attended three of the focus group kick off meetings held last week and will work throughout the process to maintain the access we have and to develop new places to ride. The planning process will take most of 2017 and much will be in small meetings, but there will definitely be lots more opportunity for public input, and we will need all WNYMBites to turn out in force for these events. Keep your eyes peeled on this space (and on facebook and meetup) for more details. If you want more low down on the process and what WNYMBA is doing, please attend our meetings for all the details.

A lot of what we do at WNYMBA is about fun – group rides, campouts, etc. But just as important is the advocacy. Take nothing for granted. This is crunch time for access to trails, and WNYMBA needs your support.

Erie County Parks Master Plan receives funding

As you read elsewhere, WNYMBA has been tracking the upcoming re-write of the Erie County Parks Master Plan.  Last time around (2002-2003), WNYMBA worked hard to get Hunters Creek open to bikes (did you know that bikes were not allowed there until 2002?!) and got into the plan to go-ahead to develop the trail system at Sprague.

We hope to be just as involved this time around, and have equally great results, hopefully opening up a new park for bike access and trail construction.  As the article linked below indicates, the county is looking towards passive recreation alternatives, and MTB fits the bill.  We have worked well with the county the past 15 years and hope to continue this with next master plan.  Read/listen to more about it here:

Erie County to update Parks Master Plan; WNYMBA on the case!

eriesealAs you probably know, WNYMBA was super involved in the last master planning process back in 2003.  Back then, Hunters Creek was on the possible block for being closed to bikes.  Not only did the hard work and education provided by WNYMBA keep Hunters Creek open to bikes, but we got the plan to recommend development of a new trail system at Sprague Brook.  12 years later, the trails at Sprague Brook have been a success far beyond any expectations.

Now that it is 2015, the parks department is looking to update the master plan.  WNYMBA has already met last month with the Parks Commissioner and his staff to discuss the upcoming process.  We talked about expanding MTB opportunities into other parks.  It seems definitely possible that an additional trail system could be developed in one more park besides the two that currently allow it (Hunters and Sprague).  We also relayed to him about the promise made by the local hiking club (FLTC) that they would not use the recent closure of the white trail in Ellicottville as a pretense to close additional sections of that trail network (the orange trail in Hunters is part of that same system).  This promise was made during meetings with the hiking club about the closure of the white trail (to which we never agreed to, but lost anyway).  It is important that the orange trail at Hunters remains open to cyclists.

Stay tuned to the website for updates on this process.  We will definitely need assistance from everyone when the planning process gets into full swing.

Former News Outdoor Editor Mike Levy Passes Away

Brought Attention to Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell Park Management

I read in the paper this morning that Former Buffalo News Outdoors editor Michael Levy died this week.

Mike Levy was the journalist who helped bring attention to the don't-ask-don't-tell County management of Hunters Creek and other parks formally known as "land banks". Until the early 00's, going to these parks was technically trespassing, and some people were actually ticketed. Hunters Creek was one of the few places in Erie County where cyclists went to ride their bikes. But it was illegal and there was no way to officially manage it.

A lot of the credit for turning these land banks into parks goes to former Parks Commissioner Larry Jasinski and County Exec Giambra. However, Levy's articles "Posting Raises Concerns" and "Land Locked" brought a big spotlight on this issue and helped move it to resolution.

Levy's investigation of this issue led him to look at WNYMBA, resulting in another article soon after. His article "Mountain Bike Club Lets Air Out of Stereotypes" provided some good exposure to the club.

I always enjoyed reading Levy's columns in the News and he will be missed.

Our insurance company has "strongly suggested" that we tell you that Mountain Biking can be dangerous. If you're visiting this site it's very likely that you're already aware that if you insist on having a good time by riding your mountain bike, eventually you will almost certainly fall down and collect any number of boo-boos, dings and injuries, serious or otherwise, but we have to tell you anyway.

Mountain Biking is a potentially hazardous activity carrying a significant risk of bodily injury and even death. Mountain biking should only be undertaken if you have a complete awareness of these risks. You can reduce the level of risk by wearing a helmet and by riding within your own skill level.