With bikers coming down, hikers climbing up, here a jump to the left, there a swerve to the right, hiking trails are becoming ever busier. But who has right of way?
Art. 43 para. 1 of the Road Traffic Act stipulates that bicycles may not use footpaths or hiking trails that aren't suitable or intended for this purpose. However, anyone who has ever ridden a new mountain bike designed with the latest technology knows just how much leeway the «suitability» point leaves for interpretation.
The Federal Government leaves it to the cantons to draw up specific rules and create a signalling system. This leads to different solutions among the cantons and municipalities. For example, the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden strictly dictates that mountain bikers may only use signalised bike routes, otherwise they will be fined. By contrast, tourist-liberal Graubünden says «Everyone has a right to the mountains, hence our fairtrail concept». This keeps the trails fair for everyone.
Know the rules
If you’re planning a mountain bike tour off the official mountain bike trails, it’s best to consult the cantonal website for information on restrictions. When in doubt, only clear signalling can provide information as to whether a trail may be used or not. Otherwise the following applies: show mutual respect and act considerately.