Promoting the Nanaimo Trail Survey to Mountain Bikers

Author: Pierce Melnick & Brad Vince

Most evenings you can find us on the trails looking to chat with anyone riding a mountain bike. One of the projects us Research Assistants (RAs) at MABRRI are working on this summer is implementing the Nanaimo Trail Survey in person. The Trail Survey is in collaboration with Matt Bowes, a Geography and Global Studies professor at VIU, and the Nanaimo Mountain Bike Club. The goal of this survey is to get observations and perspectives of mountain biking in Nanaimo by talking with people riding the trails. Surveys will then be used to develop a report, which will ideally lead to collaborative management of the trail systems in Nanaimo and foster a safer environment for all users. 

The Nanaimo Trail Survey began in early June when MABRRI’s RAs met with Matt for the first time out at Nanaimo Lakes Road trail heads. We spent the afternoon discussing how to implement the surveys and Matt gave us a rundown of all the questions in the survey. During our meeting we had the opportunity to interact with mountain bikers and see how Matt interacted with them, abiding by the current COVID-19 protocols in place. The following week we began spending 2–3-hour sessions at the trailhead interacting with riders. We typically set up on weekdays in the evening or mid-day on the weekends where we bring our data collection tools and friendly faces. Throughout the shift we approach riders from a safe distance and ask if people would like to take part in the survey. Riders are generally positive and interested in taking the survey as it is beneficial to something they love doing. At the beginning of summer, we were mainly stationed at the Nanaimo Lakes Road location but are now switching it up and trying to reach some new faces out at Dumont. 

Pierce’s Experience 

Implementing the trail survey has been one of the highlights of my summer thus far. I always look forward to meeting up with another RA and spending the evening or weekend with them. The first time I went out was with Brad and it was a little nerve-racking having to stop people, but I slowly learnt that the mountain biking community is filled with some of the nicest people. I have never had one bad experience with a rider and each time I talk to one I learn so much more about the passion people have for the sport and for the trails. It is also such a breath of fresh air to be interacting with people from the public after being isolated due to the pandemic. The extrovert in me is loving chatting, laughing, and getting to know the people who often ride these trails or those who are trying them out for the first time. I am looking forward to what the rest of the summer has to offer out at Dumont and getting to know more of these people’s stories. 

Brad’s Experience 

Like Pierce’s experience, the beginning of the survey was a mixture of nerves and excitement with getting to interact with the general public for the first time in over a year. The Nanaimo mountain bike community has been very supportive of this survey so far and it has resulted in fun interactions and enjoyable conversations. Understandably, many riders choose to take the survey online on their own time, likely a result of either their excitement to get out on the trails or a desire to get home after an exhausting ride. As someone who is passionate about active transportation and outdoor activities it is refreshing to see such a large and diverse community of people taking part in the same sport on the same trails. It is truly a testament to the importance of positivity and inclusiveness and is delightful to see here in Nanaimo. The survey is sure to provide valuable feedback, to guide collaborative governance of the trail systems that so many people enjoy. 


Although level of interactions tends to vary on the day of the week, the weather, or time of day, the mountain bike community has been very nice to interact with. These interactions have also revealed the necessity of this research as it will improve safety, accessibility, and collaboration for the Nanaimo mountain bike community. The clear sense of community and health benefits from this activity are essential for the Nanaimo community. The future of mountain biking in Nanaimo looks bright!