With anti-mountain biking traps, “the red line has been crossed”: in the Vosges mountains, growing tensions between walkers and mountain bikers

First, a petition. Then barbed wire stretched over a path. Then a studded plank concealed under leaves, which caused a serious fall of an 18-year-old mountain biker on September 16. In the Vosges mountains, the development of mountain biking, encouraged by the need for nature revealed by the Covid-19 crisis and accentuated by the generalization of electric assistance, causes increasingly strong tensions between practitioners and other users of the forest.

Corn “The red line has been crossed” with the accident that caused “Cranial, facial and abdominal trauma, liver fracture and small cerebral hemorrhage”, the members of the Haut-Rhin mountain gendarmerie platoon are scandalized. Mobilized by the family, the mayor of Masevaux-Niederbruck, Maxime Beltzung, says he wants to put the debate on the table: “The forest must be open to everyone. Mountain bikes respect it just as much as hikers. “

Can walkers and mountain bikers sustainably share the same trails? On the ridges of the Vosges, the controversy rages, fueled by an initiative designed on the contrary to calm the debate. In early summer, the Vosges club, responsible for the marking of hiking trails, had indeed started the development of a shared route to reduce the inconvenience of walkers and effects of the passage of bicycles on certain paths.

Fight against the artificialization of the massif

For this first project of its kind – supported by the communities, the regional directorate for the environment, development and housing (Dreal) and even the secretary of state in charge of biodiversity, Bérangère Abba – the hikers were supported by local mountain bikers.

Recruiting staff has indeed become one of the first challenges of the association, which is more than a century old. “Rather than staying in conflictual and sterile relationships with mountain bikers, I preferred to build something intelligent to preserve our trails”, explains Joseph Peter, president of the Club Vosgien du Haut-Rhin. However, this rapprochement did not garner the support of all the members of the movement.

A petition denounces the initiative as an open door to the development of all kinds of practices in the natural environment

Above all, it provoked the ire of an association fighting against the artificialization of the massif, which launched, at the end of August, a petition denouncing the initiative as an open door to the development of all kinds of practices in the natural environment. For its some 475 signatories, as for Dominique Humbert, president of SOS Massif des Vosges, the circulation of bicycles must be limited to forest roads suitable for motor vehicles.

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