Multi Use Considerations
Multi Use Trails Part III – A Last Resort
“Trail Series I & II (below) are after the fact concepts culminating from years of unresolved trail conflict that has negatively affected equestrians. Understand - multi use trails should be a last resort, and IF paring uses is unavoidable, agencies have a fundamental obligation to proactively protect equestrian trail riders since they are the most at risk. The most common and dangerous conflicts occur between equestrian trail riders and wheeled users who do not follow proper right of way, and unleashed dogs. Creating and maintaining equestrian trail exclusivity is justifiable.
Hikers, cyclists, equestrian trail riders and off-road sports all have different trail use expectations; their experiences, and the way they use public land are not the same. The best foundation for equestrians is to have access to exclusive trails or trails that are paired with compatible uses (hiking). Agencies must commit to prioritizing ongoing education, including enforcement for all users about safe trail use protocol and park rules, especially where there are horse trails. Keeping trail users safe and reducing liability requires more than posting trail signs, or worse… no signs, then expecting everyone to “just get along.”
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Multiuse Trails Part II - Outside the Box
"There is no shortage of trail etiquette and trail safety information sharing on social media or on the web. The problem is the information does not always reach the target audience. Cultivating new relationships is one way to build a foundation for safer trail experiences that will benefit many. Below are seven progressive ideas for trail groups/riders who are ready to collaborate outside the box.
1. Reach out to local bike, ORV, hiking clubs and their retailers, speak at one or more of their events, bring a horse(s) to use in a demonstration.
2. Partner with other user groups to promote safety on their social media pages; informational videos and infographics are easy to share.
3. Request increased ranger presence on high use days in areas known to have high conflict.
4. Create easy to read visual etiquette brochures for nearby retail shops to hand out with new equipment purchases.
5. Find an advocate to help. Are any horse trail riders in your membership also cyclists or off-road enthusiasts? Are they willing to advocate for safe trail right of way within that group?
6. Organize a trail ride for non-equestrian groups and park staff at a local guided ride facility. Consider donating part of the expense to encourage attendance, then have a picnic afterwards. The livery stable may be willing to negotiate a lower rate for an event like this.
7. Volunteer for a workday with different user groups."
Multiuse Trails Part I - Enforceable Rules
"Multiuse trail issues began in the late1970’s as wheeled use became more affordable and popular. Many parks were not prepared for the sudden upheaval in conflict between horse riders, cyclists, and sometimes off-road vehicles. Fortunately, there are parks who have taken a proactive approach and addressed the safety issue by rewriting their rules to include trail right of way.
Here is a great rule example from Metroparks of Toledo*:
"Multi-Trail Use Right of Way
When trail conditions require a right of way for safe passage, horse riders have the primary right of way, hikers next and then cyclists while on park district property trails. (MM)”
If explicit rules are absent there are most likely other enforceable rules that could be used and interpreted to protect the safety of park visitors. Officer availability and discretion to educate and enforce can create another challenging layer. Trail right of way (trail courtesy, trail etiquette) is not a new phenomenon."