Save the trails
Unfortunately the notice in the photo above is not a rare site. Since trails tend to be built unofficially on public land a lot of spots are under constant threat of destruction, whether that’s from vandalism, or more seriously, from being ploughed by the local council.
This article showcases a letter that I sent in an attempt to help save Moos Trails. While of course the content of the letter would have to be adapted to relate to the particularly situation being faced, it is there to be used a template.
For maximum effect, post a hard copy of the letter to the council concerned, and when being sent in an email, copy in Councillors from different political parties and ideally ones who’s focus is relevant to the issue (e.g. recreation, sports, young people etc). It also helps to set up an online campaign via Facebook and have as many people protest and contact the local council. The more people you get involved, the more chance the issue will be taken seriously, improving the likelihood of the survival of your trails.
Title: Proposals to eradicate Moos Trails - Reasons to reconsider
Dear (name of council CEO/council leader),
I have seen from an online campaign that Swansea City Council are considering proposals to destroy Moos Trails (click here for the Save Moos Facebook group for more information). While I am not a local resident or user of these jumps, I would like to express my concern over this as someone who has conducted a case study of graduate research on the effect of bicycle facilities on anti-social behaviour among young people. The report is available to view here.
First of all I would like you to note that Moos Trails are an important recreational area for young people to practice their sport, that has been built over many years by those who have dedicated hundreds of hours of voluntary time for a constructive cause.
In 2009 I conducted a research project to identify whether skateparks reduce anti-social behaviour. While of course the study was about skateparks, the findings apply to this case, and in fact the benefits are amplified in regards to trails spots such as Moos. This is due to a number of reasons:
1.Trails are built in un-used concealed locations away from city centres and residential areas where the conjugation of young people is often frowned upon, thus reducing the overall level of disturbance and reports of anti-social behaviour
2.As these areas are away from the general public, there isn’t the issue of NIMBYism (Not in my Back Yard attitudes), which are often the reason why skatepark plans are rejected
3.Due to the fact that trails take considerable time and effort to build, there is a strong community of people who are dedicated and use their energy creatively as builders
4.Trails are self managing and do not cost local government any money.
5.Participation in sport should be encouraged due to the health and social benefits. Recreational areas such as Moos Trails encourage physical activity, an antidote to obesity, and develop independence and resilience.
In my report I interviewed council officers, senior community patrol officers and conducted a residential survey on an area in close proximity to a recent skatepark. There was an overall consensus that the skatepark had made a positive impact. Click here for the report.
Summary of report findings:
1.The skatepark reduced complaints of anti-social behaviour in the area
2.Bike riding and skateboarding is inclusive, and merges young people from different social and ethnic backgrounds
3.Not in my back yard (NIMBY) attitudes tend to be the main cause of opposition towards skateparks, but these attitudes change after a skatepark is built.
4.More skateparks should be built as ‘extreme’ sports including BMX and mountain biking are rising in popularity while traditional team sports are experiencing a drop in participation.
In Exeter the city council has a good relationship with the people who build, maintain and use the dirt jumps in the city. This shows that an arrangement can be made (in this case a small set of jumps were built for beginners) to please both parties.
Young people are often depicted in a negative light and seen to cause disturbance in residential areas and city centres. Here is a prime example of positive activity. I would be grateful if you could reconsider this issue in light of the positive evidence available in my report, which includes references to leading academics in the area of youth recreation and behaviour. Moos Trails are an important facility and asset.
I would be willing to provide further information and assistance if required.
Comment from Steve Artus in the comment section of the old website
I think the values that trails teach are important too, about hard work being rewarded, call it work ethic and or dedication but it's all the sort of thing we wan't to be encouraging the next generation to have, Digging and maintaining trails teaches this.