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Watch: Close call with dog walker on West Vancouver mountain bike trail

New signs have been installed at the bottom of the trails since the incident, says North Shore Mountain Bike Association

Full suspension reacts as a heavy downhill mountain bike lands a jump. Forest whips by as its rider takes two quick turns, then off a bigger drop. At the bottom, a woman stands in the middle of the trail, shouting angrily as several dogs dart around her.

Luckily, the rider and his buddy in front of him are skilled, and avoid the woman and her animals. But the scenario could have resulted in a nasty tangle if things had gone differently.

Afterwards, Jordan Olthuis – a professional mountain biker and YouTuber who was filming his ride – was confused.

Chatting with fellow riders in the Cypress parking lot, they affirmed that they were riding down a sanctioned downhill trail, Meat Sweats, where hikers aren’t supposed to be.

“That scenario was weird because she kind of felt like she owned the place in a way,” said Olthuis, who’s been biking down North Shore mountains for more than a decade. “She felt like we don’t belong there.”

Usually hikers and bikers are guided by signage at the heads of trails. In this situation, the female hiker had apparently accessed the trail from the bottom, where no signs were at the time.

That’s since been fixed, said Deanne Cote, executive director with the North Shore Mountain Bike Association.

“We were missing key information at the bottom where people would hike up,” she said. “So we connected with the District of West Vancouver … and got the ball rolling on, you know, let’s get some better signage down at the bottom to alert people that these are high-speed downhill trails and not the safest place to be to be hiking up.”

The signs were installed at the end of February, just days after the close call. In April, Olthuis posted a video of the experience to YouTube, where it’s been viewed around 25,000 times.

Many trail conflicts caused by miscommunication, NSMBA director says

Following the incident, a local mountain biker also recognized the woman as a dog walker, and reached out to inform her that it’s a legitimate biking trail, Cote said.

“A lot of these user conflicts just come down to miscommunication. She may not have known that these trails were sanctioned, even though we’ve had press releases, and there are signs. [But] you can’t always have signage at every single access point,” Cote added.

There’s also been a steep increase in the number of commercial dog walkers on North Shore trails, she said.

And each trail system has different rules for where dogs can be on and off leash, “which I think makes it a bit confusing for people because they just generally don’t know.”

For the most part, interactions between different trail users are positive. To keep things running smoothly, Cote said the NSMBA reminds people to be nice and say hi.

When it comes to trail etiquette, faster users yield to slower users, she said. It's also important to follow directional signs.

“We are seeing a lot of people travelling up downhill-preferred trails, which is again going to be higher speeds,” Cote said. “So do pay attention to those trail signs, and don’t be hiking up a downhill-preferred trail, especially during peak times.”

As the weather improves, and days get longer, trail traffic is only going to get worse.

“We all just want to be out there having fun and enjoying nature,” she said. “Just be courteous to the other trail users out there, is what we preach.”

Watch the full clip on Jordan (Boostmaster) Olthuis's YouTube channel