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The Kottenforst discussion continues: Hardly any legal routes for mountain bikers

The Kottenforst discussion continues : Hardly any legal routes for mountain bikers

The discussion about mountain bikers in Kottenforst in Bonn continues. One rider misses bike parks, like tracks with ramps and steep curves. The city of Bonn is checking a route on the Venusberg. But there are concerns.

Frank Zeisig moved from Munich to Bonn two years ago. He had to leave the mountains behind there, but he brought his bicycle with him. Now he often trains in the Siebengebirge or Kottenforst. He is no stranger to discussions about cycling in the forests and the consequences for nature. "I know that from Munich," says Zeisig.

The Venusberg slope in the landscape conservation area between Poppelsdorf and Bad Godesberg is popular with cyclists. But conservationists accuse the cyclists of not staying on the paths. Thus, for example, the forest soil is compacted and water can’t drain off easily, also the erosion of the soil is affected in such a way. In addition, the cyclists would "shoot" ruthlessly through the forests. The legal situation is clear: "Mountain bikers who move outside the permitted roads and paths violate nature conservation and forestry regulations," says Marc Hoffmann from the press office.

"There are rules that you have to abide by," says Zeisig as well. "But it would be nice if everyone treated each other with respect. In the Alps, hikers and cyclists usually get along well with each other. "There are also chaotic people there, who ride down the slopes, says Zeisig. "But chaos can be found everywhere."

He is also a little annoyed that cyclists are often portrayed as the only ones who don't follow the rules in the forest. In the Siebengebirge, he also sees hikers off the trails again and again. "I think there is a double standard," he says. "If the rules are observed, nature is not harmed.“

In the Alps, for example, there are bike parks - routes that are open to cyclists, with ramps and steep curves. "There too, there are rules and stiff penalties for those who don't follow them," says Zeisig. He would like to see something like that on his doorstep too. However, he finds that little is happening as far as legal routes in the Bonn forests are concerned.

In April, the city announced that it was planning to create a legal route. It had commissioned a landscape architect, who is also an expert and appraiser for bike and skate facilities, with a feasibility study. According to Hoffmann, there should be discussions with potential users to find out what they want. In July, the city said that closer examination had raised concerns. The compatibility of nature, landscape and species protection makes things complicated.

The association Deutsche Initiative Mountainbike thinks a legal route is a good idea. It could be a good substitute for certain target groups. However, there are also points of criticism. Such routes are often only between one and five kilometers long, so they are only suitable for short riders. "This is too short for many mountain bikers and encourages illegal trails," says John Bergenholtz, spokesman for the Rhine-Sieg region.

Zeisig believes that compromises have to be made on the length of the route. What bothers the mountain bike enthusiast: "There is no progress on this issue. That is unsatisfactory for all involved. He believes that facilities are also being built for other athletes. "When soccer fields are built, no rooster crows after them," he says. Zeisig is convinced that many cyclists would even help out when it comes to laying out a course.

(Original text: Dennis Scherer, Translation: Mareike Graepel)