Riding Etiquette & Expectations | Ontario Federation of Trail Riders
Off Road Riding

    

RIDING ETIQUETTE & EXPECTATIONS

Code of Conduct

  • Do Not Trespass on private property. Ride on existing trails.
  • Respect nature.
  • Expect and Respect others who have the right to be on the trails. Be courteous to others.
  • Remember that few other vehicles are as maneuverable as bikes, so give the others lots of room and pass on the right.
  • Other user groups do a lot of trail grooming - respect their efforts.
  • STOP when you see a horse, shut off your engine immediately. Then take off your helmet and ask for instructions from the rider.
  • Comply with all legislation, bylaws and insurance requirements.
  • Always wear a helmet and other safety gear. (Take off your helmet if you talk to someone)
  • Whatever you pack in, pack out. Do not litter, and leave the place better than you found it.
  • Use trails only according to the permitted uses indicated. Some trails are seasonal and can experience problems in the spring. Check the trail conditions.
  • Do not use any Alcohol or Drugs if you plan to ride.
  • Keep your bike QUIET. More sound = Less ground!

"OFTR Code of Conduct"

ENEMIES OF OFF ROAD RIDING

The Top 3 EnemiesNoise, Noise & Noise!
When a riding area is threatened with closure, 9 times out of 10 it is from noise complaints from neighbours. It is important our bikes are as quiet as they can possibly be. 94dbA is a limit established and tested under SAE J1287. Simply put the bike is tested at 0.5 m from the exhaust at a 45 degree angle. The bike is to be tested in neutral at an rpm of half of its maximum rated rpm (redline).

When someone makes a noise complaint they are not basing it on scientific fact or analysis. It is a 100% emotional response. It is hard to fight emotion because no answer is good enough. Science will stand up in court if it has to go that far. However it is more important to look at the big picture and not just try to pass sound test, but to be as absolutely quiet as possible.

The following are the facts about sound.

The decibel (abbreviated dB) is the unit used to measure the intensity of a sound. The decibel scale is a little odd because the human ear is incredibly sensitive. Your ears can hear everything from your fingertip brushing lightly over your skin to a loud jet engine. In terms of power, the sound of the jet engine is about 1,000,000,000,000 times more powerful than the smallest audible sound. That's a big difference!

On the decibel scale, the smallest audible sound (near total silence) is 0 dB. A sound 10 times more powerful is 10 dB. A sound 100 times more powerful than near total silence is 20 dB. A sound 1,000 times more powerful than near total silence is 30 dB. Here are some common sounds and their decibel ratings:

  • Near total silence - 0 dB
  • A whisper - 15 dB
  • Normal conversation - 60 dB
  • A lawnmower - 90 dB
  • A car horn - 110 dB
  • A rock concert or a jet engine - 120 dB
  • A gunshot or firecracker - 140 dB

You know from your own experience that distance affects the intensity of sound -- if you are far away, the power is greatly diminished. Sound levels drop 6 db every time you double the distance. An example is 94 db at .5 meters is 88 db at 1 meter, 82 db at 2 meters, 76 db at 4 meters, etc.

If you have 2 similar sources of sound add 3 db to the sound level. An example is 2 94 db bikes side by side are now 97 db. Four 94's would be 100, etc. Now you can see the problem with an MX start.

Any sound above 85 dB can cause hearing loss, and the loss is related both to the power of the sound as well as the length of exposure. You know that you are listening to an 85-dB sound if you have to raise your voice to be heard by somebody else. Eight hours of 90-dB sound can cause damage to your ears; any exposure to 140-dB sound causes immediate damage (and causes actual pain).

TRESPASSING

Another enemy of off road riding is trespassing on private property. If you don't have permission to ride there, either personally or thru the OFTR, don't. Many riding areas are shut down because of trespassing on adjoining properties. Continued complaints to the forest manager can only lead to one result - closure. If you're not sure ask, that's what we're here for.

Trespassing also includes riding in an area without the proper membership or pass.

RESPONSIBLE BEHAVIOUR

Off road motorcycles have the distinction of being the fastest most nimble creature in the forest. As such we have to be very careful not to intrude on the enjoyment or the path of other forest users. It is also important not to conflict with other off road motorcycles.

It is very rare in the public domain to run into one way trails. Therefore when riding, you must always be aware of oncoming traffic, motorized or not. It is the lead riders responsibility to constantly survey his surroundings for oncoming users. It is important on double track to stay far to the right when cresting a hill. Always error on the side of caution. When passing another group it is a good practice to hold up a number of fingers to indicate the size of the riding party. Obviously if the group is bigger that 5 you will have to improvise.

In the event you come across people on horse back, signal you are stopping to fellow riders and pull to the side and stop. Turn off all bikes, remove your helmets if necessary and give the right of way to the equestrians. Always let them make the call.

The rule of thumb is that there is no real speed limit on single track as trees and gravity will triumph over blind stupidity. However fire roads and road allowances do have speed limits that are 50 kmh unless otherwise posted.

Ride quietly. OK so you passed sound test but you have to remember each motorcycle is equipped with a volume control. Yes its called a throttle and if you wind it to the pin in populated areas you are guilty of noise pollution.

Tread lightly. This can mean observing seasonal closures, staying off the trails in muddy season or just after a big rain. It can mean not digging a trench when climbing a hill or when stuck on a root. Big brake slides and roosting out of corners is another example. Tread lightly and do your best to maintain the integrity of the trails.

Invasive species is a huge concern for forest managers. Did you know these plants or animal could hitch a ride from forest to forest via your motorcycle? What's a rider to do? Wash your bike after every ride to remove this threat. If you get dog strangling vine on the edge of your driveway it is a lot easier to deal with than in the forest.

Give a hoot, don't pollute. Great old saying. It applies to littering and it can apply to how you dispose of old motor oil and chemicals. Use proper environmental practice to dispose of waste materials.