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Survey: Mountain Bikers and Upper UCSC

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Read on if you like mountain biking, Santa Cruz, Upper UCSC trails

by Traci Hukill

Jan. 28, 2014—Four out of five mountain bikers surveyed at Upper UCSC say they use the single track trails there more than once a month, and almost all say they've used the trails at some point in the past. A third did not realize that riding the single track on campus is prohibited.

So say the results of a survey conducted on Upper Campus on consecutive January weekends by organizers of a Jan. 29 panel on mountain biking at Upper UCSC. Using iPads and a poll created by the civic engagement startup Civinomics, volunteers with Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz, Stevenson Residential Life and Hilltromper headed out to the water tanks on Chinquapin Fire Road on Saturday, Jan. 18 and Sunday, Jan. 26. There they set up shop, asked passing riders if they'd like to take a survey. Between the two days, 182 riders stopped to fill out the 11-item questionnaire.

Additionally, 144 people filled out the survey online during the week of Jan. 20.

While not scientific, the survey does offer an interesting glimpse into who's riding. Respondents were—unsurprisingly—overwhelmingly male (78%). Two in five reported making more than $100,000 a year, with 23% reporting income of more than $150,000. Those making less than $25,000 accounted for 15% of the group.

Age, like income, is spread out: 35% of respondents were between ages 40 and 54. Surprisingly, only 7% were between 25 and 29, though their elders were out in respectable numbers: 13% were over 55, with 5% older than 65. Dudes!

A majority (59%) were from Santa Cruz County. With analysis still incomplete on Tuesday afternoon, it was clear that many of the remainder hailed from the Santa Clara Valley, with some outliers from as far afield as the Sierras and Los Angeles.

Learn more about Forest Trails Talk: A Panel Discussion on Mountain Biking at UCSC.

The demographic data is fun, but the meat of the survey—how many people use the Upper Campus single track trails—yielded invaluable information for the Jan. 29 panel discussion, co-sponsored by MBoSC, Stevenson Residential Life and Hilltromper with the goal of addressing the designation and use of illegal trails. Almost all (96%) of respondents said they planned on "utilizing the single track during this visit"—exactly the same percentage as reported being on bicycle (rather than on foot). Go figure. And 95% said they'd used the campus single track before. In fact, 37% said they use the trails "a few times a week," and 44% said they them "a few times a month." Fifteen percent said "a few times a year," and 4 percent said it was their first time.

As to whether they were aware that riding on single track at the university is prohibited, 66% said yes, and 34% said no.

Another takeaway: mountain bikers don't shy away from the tough stuff. Only two individuals out of 327 respondents skipped the question.

Read a Santa Cruz Sentinel article on illegal trails at UCSC.

Forest Trails Talk: A Panel Discussion on Mountain Biking on Upper UCSC
Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, 6-8pm
Stevenson Event Center, UCSC

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Field Notes

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Professor Tim Duane mentioned last night at the panel that he oversaw a study that looked at mountain biking effects on the endangered Ohlone tiger beetle. The researchers for this study conducted a scientific survey of mountain bikers in upper campus. It can be found in this thesis report here. Click "Search document" and then type in "survey" to find the sections about the survey. (Hopefully this link is viewable if you aren't connected to UCSC internet like I am right now... if folks can't access it, there is a PDF version that can be downloaded and emailed...)

 

And here's a more easily digestible version of the study, from Karen Kefauver: Bikers Beware of Ohlone Tiger Beetles

 

Thanks for posting these, Melissa. The information about Ohlone tiger beetles was some of the most interesting of the night.