Status: 21/09/2023, 16:23 p.m.
Two mountain bikers ride down a single trail. © Philipp von Ditfurth/dpa
"Danger! Mountain bike descent!" - a sign in a Freiburg forest warns hikers of fast cyclists. Mountain bikers are legal on the road - a signposted trail is reserved only for them.
Freiburg - Mountain bikers get more space in the state forest - this is also intended to defuse conflicts with other users. It is about particularly designated routes that also offer experienced mountain bikers fun, said the board of directors of the state-owned forestry company ForstBW, Felix Reining, on Thursday in Freiburg. "We want to create legal offers."
A pilot project includes so-called trails in the forest districts of the Upper Black Forest, Eastern Alb, Schurwald near Göppingen, Swabian-Franconian Forest and Ulmer Alb. If the new concept is well received, there will be special trails for mountain bikers throughout the country.
An already existing, approximately three-kilometre-long trail in the north-east of Freiburg is considered a prime example. Forst Baden-Württemberg (ForstBW) is responsible for around a quarter of the state's forest area.
Quarrel in the forest
Mountain biking often causes controversy in the forest, as the state foresters reported. The influx of people has increased significantly in the wake of the corona pandemic. "It can certainly lead to dangerous situations," Reining warned. For ForstBW, it is a major issue to control the flow of visitors.
Not only cyclists and hikers, but also hunters and forestry workers are out and about in the forest. In addition, wild animals and plants must be protected. "Foresters are often somewhere in between," was the sober conclusion of the forest rangers.
The two-meter rule in the forest
The so-called two-meter rule of the State Forest Act is always a source of debate. This states that cycling in the forest is only allowed on paths that are at least two meters wide. Footpaths, on the other hand, are taboo. "We don't think the two-meter rule is up-to-date," said Mirjam Milad, managing director of the Freiburg Mountain Bike Association. On the other hand, it is important to approach each other if there are problems.
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The German Alpine Club in the country also disagrees with the two-meter rule. In principle, it must be possible to use all forest paths for walking, hiking and cycling, according to the association's website.
The Black Forest Association, according to its own information, the oldest German hiking club, represents a comparatively moderate position: "We rely on the fact that there is mutual respect and consideration at a level below the law," said Chief Executive Mirko Bastian of the German Press Agency. The association therefore does not advocate or oppose the legal regulation of paths.
Admonitions and appeals
De facto, the inclusion of the two-metre rule in extensive forest areas cannot be monitored at all. The focus is on so-called hotspots such as Freiburg, where many people are in the forest, as Förster reported. "You can admonish, appeal and enlighten," Reining summed up. "Most of them are insightful."
Work of the associations
For state foresters, it is important to find contact persons for organized mountain bikers when creating the trails. They then also have to take responsibility: "We control the routes, including fallen trees," reported Managing Director Milad of Mountainbike Freiburg. Her association takes care of almost a dozen trails in the region.
Among other things, the Black Forest Association has developed the concept of shared paths, as Bastian reported. "We recently inaugurated such a 'shared trail' in Freiburg." Special consideration must be given here. Complaints about conflicts between hikers and mountain bikers rarely arrive in the club anyway. dpa