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Mountain bikers, dirt bikers cool off

Truce declared in war of words over use of Squamish forest trails

Conflict in the Squamish woods has been circumvented after mountain bikers and dirt bikers agreed this week to a cooling off period.

And trail user groups plan to meet in the coming days and discuss how all can mutually share the trails until rules and regulations are put in place by the District of Squamish.

"The Dirt Bikers Association came up with the idea of having a three month cooling off period on the proposed bylaw to give them a chance to get organized and to get some educational programs in place," said Squamish Off Road Cycling Association president Cliff Miller.

"And in all fairness we said let’s give them three months and give them a chance to work things out themselves.

"We are going to sit down and come up with some areas where we can co-exist and areas that should be exclusive as well and hopefully we can all play together in the same sandbox."

Tempers had flared between the motorized and non-motorized riders after trails, which SORCA invested thousands of man-hours in, were recently destroyed by dirt bikers. SORCA also claims that motorized riders threaten the Powerhouse Plunge trail, of Test of Metal fame.

Add to that a decision by the District of Squamish to consider the introduction of a bylaw that would ban dirt bikers from trails and the war of words and woods was on.

Dirt bikers got together and formed the Squamish Dirt Bike Riders Association to fight the ban.

"We want our concerns to be taken into consideration as well," said SDRA spokesman Blaine Schuttler. "…We don’t want to be forgotten about when it comes to this sort of planning."

Schuttler said the SDRA plans on drafting a code of conduct for riders and hopes to educate riders so that those who ride where they shouldn’t or are not courteous on the trails change their behaviour.

Some of it, he said, is ignorance as hundreds of people come up from the Lower Mainland to ride and are unaware of local understanding about where dirt bikers can and cannot ride.

Other yahoos, who ride near residential areas for example, also need to be reached by the SDRA so the sport maintains its positive reputation in the community, said Schuttler.

As far as the bylaw goes the SDRA wants to make sure that motorized riders have access to forestry service roads such as those at Indian Arm and Mamquam. Currently riders have to use district trails and roads to get to those areas. If the ban was put in place that would effectively cut off access.

Squamish Mayor Ian Sutherland said he is relieved that cooler heads have prevailed on the issue and believes all the parties can work together to find a solution.

The staff report on the bylaw went to council on May 17 as it deals with other issues as well.

And said Sutherland: "There are parts of the bylaw that we can put in place that will help both these groups accomplish things.

"And we will talk about ways that we can address bylaws and regulations to support the work being done by all the groups."