Seven in 10 mountain bikers ranked the perceived negative image of mountain biking as the number one threat to gaining new mountain bike trail access in their communities, according to a membership survey by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA).

IMBA conducted a survey of its members during the spring 2016 membership drive to gather input on IMBA’s plans for 2016 through 2020. The survey covered topics including access issues, resource allocation, volunteerism, chapter development and member demographics.

“We were encouraged by exceptionally strong participation from our members and look forward to rolling out initiatives that reflect their feedback,” said Membership Manager Joshua Lawton.

This strategic planning effort is helping IMBA create a blueprint for trail building, access and advocacy work at every level, from local trails to national initiatives.

Three-quarters of IMBA members said mountain bike trail access has increased in their community in the past decade, with 18% of respondents saying access has stayed the same and 6% reporting a decrease in access.

Members were asked to rank the top four most important issues IMBA should dedicate its resources toward, choosing from 12 available categories. The top-ranked issues were:

  • Including access for mountain bikes in federal lands
  • Including access for mountain bikes in state forest and park lands
  • Promoting bike-friendly land use policies at all levels of government
  • Promoting positive interactions with land managers through relationship building and educational outreach

Top issues did vary regionally. For example, while “including access for mountain bikes in Congressionally designated Wilderness” did not rank among top issues nationally, members residing in Montana and California ranked it as a top-four issue. IMBA’s regional staff and chapters will assess these regional priorities and continue to focus advocacy efforts on future Wilderness proposals and recommendations that meet IMBA’s Wilderness strategy criteria.

On volunteerism, about half of IMBA members volunteered time for at least one trail work day in the past year. Three in 10 volunteers worked more than 20 hours. From this data, IMBA can conclude its members contributed more than 700,000 volunteer hours in the past year. These work days are also attended by non-member volunteers, increasing the volunteer hours IMBA chapters contribute to trails.

For more information on survey results and participation by region, refer to this infographic.

The margin of error of survey results is 1 percent at the 95 percent confidence level, with 6,299 members completing the survey in full and representing all 50 states. The professional, third-party survey was directed by the Cultivation Center in partnership with Simon Analytics between May 3 and May 17, 2016. IMBA will continue to study the survey results and refine comments and feedback from members to guide its strategic planning.

IMBA is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational association. Its mission is to create, enhance and preserve great mountain biking experiences. Since 1988, IMBA has been bringing out the best in mountain biking by encouraging low-impact riding, volunteer trail work participation, cooperation among different trail user groups, grassroots advocacy and innovative trail management solutions. IMBA represents its members and supports its chapters, and its work benefits the mountain biking community. Learn more at

Photo courtesy Interbike