Tom ZEIDLER and Stefan SIEBERT
Institution: Institute of Outdoor Sports and Environmental Science, German Sports University Cologne – Germany
Keywords: Outdoor Sports, Urban Greenspace, Mountain Bike Trail Technical Features, Geographic Information System, MTB, GIS
Mountain biking is a megatrend and is practiced by an estimated number of 45,800 athletes in the city of Cologne. At the same time, recreation grounds of 40 m2 per citizen are provided in this urban area. Those spaces are intensively used by sports clubs, commercial providers and recreational athletes.
Mountain bikers are legally allowed to use the paths of public parks. However, it has been noted that the majority of mountain bikers prefer to ride on narrow trails. Bikers specialized in disciplines such as freeride, dirt and BMX also prefer routes that integrate technical features into the trails. Since there is no supply for the demand of such locations in the area of Cologne, informal sport sites developed on a public green space in the district of Lindenthal.
As part of the investigation, a spatial analysis of the study area was carried out to assess the status quo of mountain bike specific facilities. The area was navigated, while geographical data was collected using GPS devices. Based on a study by Pickering et al. (2010), a survey record was developed, in which locations and characteristics of the technical features were noted. Afterwards, the data was processed using ArcMap and Excel.
Several trail technical features have been connected by trails to form mountain bike facilities. Of these, four were identified in the area. The total space occupied spans 1.25 ha, which is equivalent to 4.7% of the sports facilities in the study area. Mounds, jumps and cambers are the three major types of features. 87.6% of the technical features are in good or moderate condition, 12.4% are defective or only left as remnants. 25 of a total of 105 features are higher than 60 cm. On three out of four sites, considerable ecological pollution from waste and vegetation damage was found. At least 24.7% of the routes in the study area are informal trails that are used by athletes of various sports.
Informal mountain bike sites hold great potential for conflict on an ecological and social level. The spreading of the areas cannot be influenced, so removal measures were initiated in the past. However, there was no lasting success as the sites were soon rebuilt.
In terms of an integrated sports area development, a concept for a public mountain bike facility needs to be carried out. It would be conceivable to have a plan that agrees with the normative foundations and the structural conditions of the existing sites.