IMBA member NOTS fights trail closure around Oslo
26 February 2013
IMBA member NOTS fights trail closure around Oslo! County governor of greater Oslo proposes mountain biking ban on singletrack trails in newly protected areas.In Oslo, the capital of Norway, the regional governor (Fylkesmannen i Oslo og Akershus) recently requested suggestions for recreational areas that should be considered for added government protectionresulting in more than 170 areas being submitted for consideration. Following a thorough examination of the submissions, it was announced that 28 would go to hearing which could result in them being given increased protection (mainly against logging).In the process of gathering these suggestions the governor’s environmental department added a line that made cyclists across the country see red. They suggested banning mountainbiking on many of the singletrack trails in the area, rendering some of the most popular trail riding in the capital illegal, yet still accessible for people on foot. (Bike Magazine, bikemag.com, has written about these areas in the past, referring to these areas and others in Norway as a “Valhalla of Mountainbiking”)The proposed ban is a result of other user group organizations suggesting that mountainbiking destroys trails and degrades the wilderness experience of people on foot. Surprisingly, no attempt was made to differentiate between singletrack riding and the high-speed gravel road cycling that is actually much more common in Norway. The two disciplines were considered equal parts of the same issue. Cyclists in general were seen as a problem for non cyclists, and banning cycling all together seen as the solution to that problem. To make matters worse, the initial hearings were held without the knowledge of any of the local cycling clubs or the Norwegian Mountain Biking Association, adding to the claim that this was an attempt to pass legislation over an area without cyclists being aware of the process.NOTS, the Norwegian IMBA member organization responded by inviting a broad selection of outdoor agencies, mountainbiking clubs, and other interested organizations to an open meeting to discuss the situation. Nearly 300.000 people were represented by the organizations in attendance, making it a convincing part of the conflict. A task force was commissioned which will be led by NOTS. NOTS Oslo also attended a meeting with the county governor in order to ensure that he is aware of our point of view, and of the fact that we will not accept legislative proposals that lack evidence and/or are pushed through without notification of all relevant parties. NOTS Oslo continues to follow the situation closely, and will write a letter for next round of hearings that end in the middle of April.