Article written by Michael Brügger ( Trail.Foundation)
The pressure from users on the existing trail infrastructure has significantly increased in Switzerland.
Like many European countries, Switzerland is witnessing a significant boom in mountain biking. Over the past few years, mountain biking has evolved from being a trendy niche sport to an established recreational activity and has now become a major source of revenue in summer tourism. According to the 2022 Sports Study Switzerland, more than 10% of the Swiss population engages in regular mountain biking, a greater proportion than the number of individuals participating in activities such as football.
The number of people engaging in off-road sporting activities has seen a remarkable increase, more than doubling since 2008, with subsequent additional pressure on the existing infrastructure. The importance of sustainably constructed and well-maintained paths is becoming increasingly evident to endure this pressure over the long term.
The trail.foundation’s main objective is to further professionalize the maintenance of trails for mountain biking.
In response to the noticeable rise in user demand on trail infrastructure, educational structures for the specific maintenance of mountain biking and shared trails were developed within the framework of the Swiss Mountainbiking Project. The responsibility for these educational initiatives lies with the trail.foundation. This nonprofit organization strives to facilitate easy access to natural and cultural spaces, aiming to make the trail experience accessible to a broad cross-section of the population.
Numerous trail construction companies in Switzerland are participating by providing training for both professional and voluntary maintenance personnel.
Building upon the findings of the Developing Intereuropean Resources for Trailbuilders (DIRTT), an educational framework, teaching materials, and training locations were established. Instructors for these advanced courses are experienced trail builders who have completed specialized training as instructors for trail maintenance with the trail.foundation. These instructors are qualified to conduct training sessions for maintenance personnel within their own companies, as well as on behalf of the trail.foundation.
The first 2 pilot courses were a success. Now, the project will be transitioned into regular operations.
The first pilot courses held in June 2023 were exceptionally successful. Participants expressed complete satisfaction, largely due to the exceptional work of the instructors. The well-balanced blend of theory and practical application, standardized training materials, the expertise of the instructors, and the structured on-trail approach were particularly appreciated. The project is now set to transition into regular operations as planned.
More Information can be found at: www.trail.foundation/kurse