The Park Record Editorial, September 19-21
Mixed reports have come to light following an unfortunate collision between a cyclist and a runner during the Park City Point 2 Point mountain bike race on Sept. 1. The cyclist, a competitor in the race, claims a runner traveling in the opposite direction on the trail intentionally knocked her off her bike and left the scene without concern for whether she was injured.
The runner, who came forward after the cyclist’s story began to circulate, says the cyclist swerved, causing the collision, and was so hostile he was unable to help her.
The two stories may never be reconciled but the disparity points to some important issues.
Park City prides itself on its extensive, award-winning trail system which lopes over the mountains and through the valleys, attracting outdoor enthusiasts of every persuasion from meandering hikers to elite mountain bike racers.
The 350-mile network of backcountry trails, supported by donations from individuals and grants from local government agencies, recently won recognition as one of the top mountain bike destinations in the world by the International Mountain Biking Association. An honor that has been marketed heavily to bolster summer tourism.
In addition to being used as a kind of extended backyard by local residents, the trails have become home to a growing number of competitive events running, biking, and even skiing. And therein lies the root of the conflict.
Park City’s gold-medal trail system is going through a bit of an identity crisis. Many residents count on being able to blow off a little steam or just maintain a moderate level of fitness on their hometown trails. They are justifiably upset when, weekend after weekend, their favorite spots are teeming with numbered bibs. (Also, in the case of the Point 2 Point incident, the runner asserts there were no course markers or signs indicating that a race was in progress.)
Fortunately, this time neither the cyclist nor the runner was seriously injured. The cyclist continued on (though badly shaken and no longer in contention to win) and the runner was able to return home under his own steam. It could have been much more serious.
In order to avoid a potentially serious accident and to help everyone maintain their sanity, it is time to initiate some broader discussions about finding a better balance between using trails for competitive events and reserving time for pure recreation.
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The Park City lodging industry in recent weeks experienced an uptick in projected occupancy numbers during the dates of the Sundance Film Festival, but the figures remain depressed from a typical year during the largest special event on the city’s calendar.