Sunday, February 18, 2007

Mountain Bikers Get Organized

The Don Valley has been a popular destination for recreational cycling for many years. The trails (when open) extend from Lakeshore Blvd. all the way to Lawrence and Bayview in the west and Victoria Park and Danforth in the east. In addition to the paved trails there is a section of the valley called Crothers' Woods which is a magnet for mountain bikers because it contains some steep sections that have been turned into some challenging trails.

As they become more popular these trails have attracted a variety of users including hikers and dog walkers. All this use has meant that the trails have become badly eroded and damaged, in some cases almost impassable.

The city after years of benign neglect realized that there was a problem and have decided to manage the situation, not by closing the trails but by trying to repair the trails so that they are able to last, called sustainable trails. This enlightened approach was taken based on experiences by similar municipalities in the the States and Western Canada where mountain biking activities have been around for longer periods.

Crothers' Woods also represents one of the last fragments of quality forest in the Lower Don Valley. Rather than deal with issues peacemeal the city decided to commission a management plan for the area which will include guidelines on how to manage all the diverse impacts on the area.

During this process, the city communicated with various groups and stakeholders to get input on the management plan. The mountain bikers up until now have been only loosely connected. The city said they would rather deal with a group than a bunch of individuals. This lead to the formation of a new group called the Toronto Off-Road Bicycling Group (TORBG). Their short term goal is to "represent off-road issues with the City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Conservation Authority for Crothers Woods Master Plan". Long term, who knows? A previous attempt to organize called the Don Valley Trail Users Club (DVTUC) failed. It will be interesting to see how long this group stays together.

The master plan is due to be published in March so we will see what happens then. Don Watcher will keep you posted.


Anonymous said...

All this use has meant that the trails have become badly eroded and damaged, in some cases almost impassable.

DW, I have no idea what sections you believe are "almost impassable" - I frequent the Don Valley a large amount, CW in particular, and I can find no evidence to support that statement of yours.

Could you please post some photographic evidence instead of making specious claims? We (mountain bikers) have extensively mapped the Don, and I'd be happy to recon these spots for you in order to prove that the situation is not as dire as you represent.

Donwatcher said...

There is a section south of Loblaws on the ridge trail that is seriously eroded. It is probably OK to ride on but nigh impossible to walk over. I don't have any pictures although the next time I go by I will take some.

Also on the ridge trail north of VOTLR there is a very steep, eroded gully. Again on a bike you just zip through it but for hikers it's a killer.

The city's program of improving the trail has cleaned up even worse sections (remember the mud slide behind the treatment plant?) but still has a ways to go.