Document type: DU ETD
Collection: Geology Theses  
Title Relative Impact of Off-Road Bicycle and Hiker Traffic on Trail Soils: An Experimental Study, Boulder, Colorado
Author(s) Carter, Anna Ruth
School/Department Department of Geography
Institution University of Denver
Degree Type Master's
Degree Name M.A.
Type of Resource text
Degree Date 1994 June
Digital Origin reformatted digital
Rights Statement All Rights Reserved
Reason for Restrictions No restrictions
Type of Restriction No restrictions
Keyword(s) Geography
Genre Dissertations, Academic
Abstract This research examines the effects on trails of off-road bicyclists as compared with hikers. The research also attempts to assess the degree to which the environmental damage caused by these two recreational user types is affected by trail gradient. Experimental lanes are constructed on a flat plot and a plot having a 10% gradient. Each plot contains a hiking lane, bicycling lane, and a control lane. Treatment consists of 1500 passes over the treatment lanes. Parameters measured include soil compaction and trail microrelief. Matched pairs t-tests are conducted to determine if compaction is affected by trail use. Difference of means tests are used to compare bicycle lanes to hiker lanes and sloped lanes to flat lanes. Compaction is assessed by penetration-resistance and bulk density measurements. Conclusions regarding compaction are hampered by a number of factors. Experimental error is suspected in the data collection. Also, natural variability and small sample size may have prevented establishment of statistical significance. Furthermore, the soil remained dry and relatively resistant to compaction throughout the majority of the experiment due to the scarcity of precipitation. In addition, too few passes may have been applied to allow the soil on the lanes to reach a steady state. Suggestions for modifications to the study design that may overcome these difficulties are included. Off-road bicycling is found to cause greater changes than hiking in trail microrelief; bicyclists have the greatest impact on slopes, while hiker impacts are similar on flat and sloped lanes. Based on these results, land managers might consider restrictions of bicyclists on steeply sloping terrain. Alternatively, these users should be kept in mind when designing and constructing new trails or updating old trails.
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