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MTBA - new way forward for trail advocacy! (a.k.a. what now given that IMBA-AU has folded)

spindog's picture

By spindog - Posted on 10 September 2014

just spotted this article on the MTBA website ..

Since we're massively under served in terms of trail destinations and facilities I think this is an important discussion topic. Mine's a very Sydney centric view of life. I know things are on the improve but the pace of change is frustratingly glacial.

Interested to see what other riders think about this new direction. Any effort that raises the profile of trail advocacy is welcome and IMHO a lot of work has been done in the last few years establishing IMBA guidelines as the standard for sustainable mtb trail design and these are now well understood and accepted by many (most?) land managers. I'm not sure what benefits there are in establishing Australian standards given the wide acceptance of IMBA's guidelines?

hawkeye's picture

Given that IMBA-AU was basically a certification consultancy for government, I think the changes outlined in the first paragraph are positive. A re-focus on advocacy is very welcome.

However, the defining of an Australian set of trail standards is going to be enormously counterproductive, likely to set advocacy efforts back 5 or more years. Again.

IMBA guidelines are perfectly adequate.

Note the languaging. "... Standards"

Defining specific Australian Standards will just give government authorities an excuse to sit on their hands and put off action and spending money, on the pretext that they don't want to build something that is not up to standards.

And then when they're finally released, if they fit with the cultural norm for regulation in this country, it will add an unnecessary layer of expense and red tape because it aims at the gold standard for every little 100m section of connector trail.

"Guidelines" offers scope to be much more flexible and sensitive to both environmental and budgetary constraints.

This strikes me as another case of the Australian love of making up rules for other people to follow. It is especially prevalent in small organisations like clubs and recreational pursuit "governing bodies" - I've seen it with other pursuits I've been involved in.

Somebody sack this guy. Please. Now. Things are already hard enough without adding this.

trim's picture

Direction? I got lost in the fog of the announcement. Why use one word when four will do!

ChopStiR's picture

Did we read the same Article Hawkeye?

MTBA will take a lead role in the establishment of a nationally accepted Australian set of guidelines

I didn't see the use of the word Standard.

Personally, I think it sounds great. I really like the idea of a Nationally recognised Guideline where as IMBA Guidelines are American (despite being an abbreviation for International). Its funny how Americans like to Claim them selves as World champions.

I also like the idea of an accredited course for Clubs and Individuals. Having some form of proof that you know what you are talking about will go a long way in Advocacy efforts.

hawkeye's picture

Hmm... I'm sure I saw "standards" - but you're right, I'm wrong. My bad. A case of the brain filling in what it was expecting to see instead of what was really there. I'm getting old. Sad

Nevertheless, I see no need to "Australianise" the international guidelines.

Flynny's picture

I think we are in danger of convincing land managers you need to spend big dollars to make a sustainable trail. That and convincing them that every trail needs to be a wide swept bike park style bermathon

Sure that can be fun but not if every trail is the same.

I think nIck did some good work with IMBA AU.

I think Tony did OK as a one man band under the old MTBA structure

Hopefully the New MTBa structure can continue forward with out erasing the past and "guidelining" out old school "primitive" style trails

Hawkeye, while I agree with your sentiments I remember when Joey Kline first visited our shores to spruke IMBA and there were some fundamental ideas that did require a bit of Australiaising to fit our soil types and flora needs.

One size fits all doesn't work and should be avioded

Lenny_GTA's picture

Id like MTBA to talk to the various advocacy groups/clubs around who are dealing with managers to really canvass their thoughts before implementing any "standards" or "guidelines". I'm sure none of us want something being pushed that could be counter productive to what we have worked for years to achieve.

A national approach is good, but its too much for one person. There needs to be individual state specific coordinators. Different states, different political climates, different legislative requirements all call for different approaches.

I don't see the need to reinvent the IMBA Guidelines. They work fine and give scope to adapt to different soil and slope conditions.

It will be interesting to see what direction this takes. But if it takes a turn for the worst we need to be organised and united and speak up.

hawkeye's picture

I've just been informed by the OP that I am not so old after all. Eye-wink

They did indeed use the word "standards" in relation to developing Australian standards in the original missive.

Looks like they've since edited it, at a guess in response to others raising the same concerns.

That's a step in the right direction. If they could drop it entirely that would be better.

Chuck's picture

Either way, I just hope this change better assists local groups and clubs to wade their way through the process of formalising their local tracks.

And I agree Flynny, I like the new Oaks section, but I don't want it everywhere. A nice narrow "primitive" single track built in the right location with the right methods can be just as sustainable.

Lenny_GTA's picture

I think it is too big a misconception that you need machinery and super grooming to make a sustainable trail. Int he right spots the primitive trail is a lower impact solution that is just as sustainable.

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