United effort by hikers and bikers is far better than confrontation

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 June, 2011, 12:00am


As an elementary teacher at a school in Hong Kong, my students learn many lessons, both social and academic. One of the most important for any child to mature to adulthood is to see that other people have needs of their own, and to accept and accommodate those needs if possible.

It is always a pleasure to see the students struggle and grow with this concept. For instance, in the beginning, children may tease others for their hobbies, physical appearance or way of speaking.

However, by the end of elementary school, many have matured to the point that they not only recognise each other's differences, but embrace them as the qualities that make each of us unique and our class a diverse and thriving environment.

As a mountain biker who regularly uses the trails on Tai Mo Shan, Chi Ma Wan and the Dragon's Back, my experiences in the past have not been similar to the atmosphere I try to create in my classroom. Rather than vibrant, unique and diverse, the trails are usually places where hikers dominate at the expense of other people with hobbies, like mountain bikers. Citizen hikers have stepped up to confront bike riders on trails.

Imagine my happiness when, upon arriving at Tai Mo Shan one Saturday last month to ride with my friends, I found a group of workers building a mountain bike trail. They comprised local hikers, bikers, members of the International Mountain Bike Association, and Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department staff.

What a great trail it was - a beginners' loop with a smooth path and banked turns supported by stone walls engineered for support and aesthetics.

Most important, though, was the collaboration between formerly disparate groups on a project designed not only to promote and encourage new bikers, but to build a community between different groups of trail users. Furthermore, contingent upon the success of the first project, the agriculture and fisheries officials said more trail-building projects may be planned for the near future. What great news that seems to be - the promotion of a more harmonious relationship between the department, hikers and bikers.

For my part, as a biker, teacher and supporter of community projects, if these projects come through, I will be there with my shovel and boots ready to work.

Jesse Meyer, Stanley