Friday, August 19, 2011

PMBA Equestrian Meeting Report

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for mountain bike & horse riders in the area, with two serious incidents that left an equestrian injured on Trail 396, and three riders and at least one horse hurt on Trail 347.
On Tuesday August 16th, representatives for PMBA met with folks from the Backcountry Horsemen of Central Arizona, Prescott Saddle Club, Granite Mountain Riders and the U.S. Forest Service to address these incidents and continue steps we’ve taken to help keep everyone on the trails safer.
After reviewing what we knew, we discussed positive steps that we can be taken immediately or in the very near future to reduce the likelihood of conflicts between various types of trail users. Some of these ideas to be explored included:
  • Identifying problem spots – blind corners, for example – and identifying the best ways to address them on a case-by-case basis, possibly by adding technical challenges for bikes or short bypasses for horses, 
  • Increased trail brushing to improve sightlines,
  • Increased and more visible signage at trailheads and on trails that get a lot of mixed usage to alert users that they are likely sharing the trail and to strongly discourage the use of earphones while riding,
  • Joint trail trips and trailhead talks that can help mountain bikers, equestrians and horses know better how to react around each other,
  • Educational efforts, including helping mountain bike riders better understand what the horse sees when it encounters a bicycle or hiker,
  • Horse safety & “desensitization” clinics that can involve mountain bikers,
  • Trail Courtesy Crews organized by the user groups.
While we all agreed it’s impossible to remove all hazards for trail users, participants in the meeting all agreed that we can be doing more to improve the safety of everyone who sets foot, hoof or tire on Prescott area trails.

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