Background: The extent to which mountain biking impacts upon the environment is largely determined by rider behaviours. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of how mountain bikers interact with the natural environment and explore their attitudes towards sustainability.
Methods: 3780 European mountain bikers completed an online cross-sectional survey.
Results: Connection to nature was an important source of motivation and the use of mountain bike trails has increased rider’s appreciation of and willingness to protect nature, with a large majority having taken direct action to do so. Mountain bikers are prepared to contribute towards trail maintenance through the provision of labour or financially. Although most mountain bikers make use of wet trails and illegal trails, incidence of conflict is relatively low. A range of characteristics were identified as being fundamental elements of sustainable trails, both in relation to the sustainability of the trail itself and in terms of wider environmental sustainability.
Conclusions: European mountain bikers care about the sustainability of the natural environment. Self-reported attitudes and behaviours suggest a willingness to reduce environmental impact and actively protect nature.