Why should I care about the Ribbon of Green?
● As a mountain biker, you are at risk of losing access to over 90% of existing singletrack trails in Edmonton. Six Shooter, Bottle Rocket, EMP Blast, Selkirk and Higher Edukation are only a few of the dozens that would be lost if the City’s current Ribbon of Green plan goes ahead. These trails and others at risk are located in what the plan calls ‘preservation areas’.
● You are also at risk of not having any new trails to ride in the future. Building new trails would not be allowed in the majority of the river valley and ravine system under the proposed plan. People will still build (unsanctioned) trails but these trails will be more likely to be removed or blocked off by the City.
Under the Ribbon of Green plan it will not be possible to connect the singletrack network in Edmonton with networks in neighbouring communities like Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan and Devon.
● When you do ride, you will experience more conflicts with other trail users. We know that banning mountain biking will not stop most people from riding; instead it will create more tension between different people who are all trying to do the same thing – get outside, have fun, be in nature.
● Walkers, trail runners and other users will also lose access to trails. In addition to cycling, the Ribbon of Green bans organized trail based events (like
running races) and geocaching in ‘preservation areas’.
What Can I Do?
1. Act fast!
○ Consultation is only open for 2 weeks!
2. Attend an online consultation session. And ask for more to be added.
○ The City is holding two public sessions: Monday February 7 and Wednesday February 8. As of February 2, these are full.
○ There may be space in the ‘stakeholder’ workshops listed on the City’s website. They are happening Wednesday February 2 (1-3pm) and Thursday February 3 (6-8pm).
3. Fill out the City’s public survey.
○ The survey does not provide a lot of information about the Ribbon of Green project and it does not speak to the impacts of the proposed plan on the singletrack network. Use every opportunity in the survey to add your comments/share your thoughts about the issues beyond the ones they specifically ask you about. You can learn more about what activities would (and would not) be allowed in different areas of the river valley and ravines here. Check the ‘land management classifications’ and ‘river valley reaches’ maps.
4. Write to your Councillor. (Why not include the Mayor while you are at it?)
○ Send them an email! Tag them in your social media comments!
5. Sign up for EMBA’s newsletter
○ We’ll help you stay up to date!
6. Pass this message along to your riding friends and trail-using allies!
○ The more people who know about the Ribbon of Green, the more chance we have to change it!
Top things to bring up in consultation sessions and the City’s survey
1. There is no evidence that mountain biking is more harmful to natural areas than walking; cycling should be allowed on singletrack trails in preservation areas.
○ There is no rationale to only allow ‘foot-traffic’ in preservation areas.
○ Studies show that routine trail care and maintenance is more important to trail preservation and erosion mitigation than limiting access to certain groups.
2. The urban singletrack network in Edmonton is a critical public good.
○ Trails and other public green spaces are critical for recreation and community resilience. They provide opportunities for diverse and distanced outdoor activities. Their importance to community and individual well-being has been magnified through the pandemic as more and more people have come to use them.
3. The City needs to be more transparent about its plans for removing singletrack trails.
○ More information is needed from the City on what will happen to existing trails, including those that are ‘approved’ (which EMBA has permission to maintain) and those that aren’t formally recognized.
○ What is going to happen to the singletrack trails in the areas of the river valley and ravines that are identified as ‘preservation areas’? The City’s materials are silent on them other than noting that only foot traffic would be allowed under the Ribbon of Green’s ‘Land Classification System’.
4. This isn’t only about bikes – walkers, trail runners and other urban explorers will lose access to many trails in the river valley and ravines under the proposed plan.
○ Thousands of Edmontonians use these trails for recreation, fitness, stress-relief and fun.
○ The Ribbon of Green bans cycling, organized events, running races, and geocaching on 90% of existing singletrack trails. It also prevents maintenance of these trails. This means that the trails will degrade, leading to more damage to the river valley instead of less.
○ The City does not maintain singletrack – mountain bikers do. Volunteers from the local biking community take care of many existing trails. Without regular maintenance (trimming, drainage repair, removal of downed trees, etc) these trails will become impassable.
5. Dis-allowing biking on existing trails will fuel more conflict between users.
○ Telling people they can’t ride in the entire river valley and ravine system is not going to stop people from riding.
○ Banning a particular segment of users will instead cause conflicts with other users who are formally allowed. (Remember, in preservation areas this includes people on foot only). Imagine off-leash area conflicts. Now multiply that across all of the river valley and ravines.
Trail users are in this together – working together to build and maintain trails (instead of removing and banning new trails) will benefit everyone.
6. We should be building more trails instead of taking away the majority that already exist.
○ Unlike Edmonton, communities across North America are building trails and expanding trail networks. They are recognizing the value of mountain bike trails and partnering with trail groups to create trail master plans.
○ Edmonton should be doing the same. A master plan would help manage and expand Edmonton’s singletrack trail network in the long-term, so that it is accessible and maintained in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. It would also leverage trails as key drivers of community and economic development. This trail plan should extend the network to all areas of the river valley and ravines where other recreational activities (such as walking and hiking) are allowed.
○ The City’s FAQs for the Ribbon of Green project (page 9) say that a “complete recreational trail network” will be defined ‘in the future’. By then it will be too late because most of the river valley and ravines will have already been restricted to foot traffic only.