For years, mountain bikers throughout Northeast Ohio have watched as friends have left the area because of the lack of trails and we’re obviously frustrated by it. We’ve told area leaders over and over that mountain biking is one solution to the brain drain, but we’re pretty much ignored when we say this. Now we learn of Dr. M. Kristi Henzel from Pittsburgh who’s considering moving to Cleveland, but is hesitating due to the lack of mountain biking. Her words say it all…
NOTE: No, we didn’t make this up and no, we didn’t ask Dr. Henzel to send this.
To: Cleveland MetroParks Executive Director, Brian Zimmerman, Mayor’s Action Center, CAMBA
Subject: Status of Mountain Biking in Cleveland/Cuyahoga County
Hello. I am physical medicine and rehabilitation physician considering relocation to Cleveland from Pittsburgh for a clinical position here. One of my major modes of exercise is mountain biking, although I am also a road cyclist and bicycle commuter. In the interests of “practicing what I preach,” I always choose to live close to where I work so that I can bicycle commute to my job. Therefore, the presence of extensive mountain biking trails close to my home is very important to me due to the time demands of my work. For example, in Pittsburgh I live within 1.5 miles of an excellent park (Frick Park) with miles of mountain biking trails which are maintained by local mountain biking groups. My husband (a banker) and I frequently ride our bikes over to this park throughout the year for recreation and fitness. Four-season mountain biking is possible, even in the snow, and many road cyclists I know choose to mountain bike during the winter because it is more comfortable than road biking during cold conditions.
Initial web searches on mountain biking in Cleveland seem to indicate that no mountain biking is permitted in almost all of Cleveland MetroParks except for an extremely short trail in one location, which is closed during the winter. Given the popularity of mountain biking among highly educated professionals, I find it hard to believe that Cleveland and Cuyahoga County would implement such a regressive policy. Unless, that is, they are not interested in attracting such a population to live and work in Cleveland. If this is and continues to be the case, my husband and I feel that this is a significant barrier to relocation to Cleveland.
I hope to hear that I am mistaken in this regard. My current impression is that Cleveland is rather unfriendly to cyclists, and in particular those who mountain bike. It is a shame that a county with more than 82 miles of bridle trails cannot find a way for equestrians and mountain bikers to live and play together. In my experience/observation, horses are much “harder” on trails than mountain bikes plus equestrian groups frequently do not appear to do trail maintenance. Mountain bikers, on the other hand, have a proven record of performing frequent trail building and maintenance activities. It certainly appears that CAMBA, your local mountain biking group, has gone above and beyond in trying to work with Cleveland MetroParks on this issue with no significant improvement in the situation.
I look forward to hearing your current position and plans regarding my concerns.
M. Kristi Henzel, MD, PhD