Differences Between Motorized and Nonmotorized Trail Users


  • Kathleen L. Andereck
  • Christine A. Vogt
  • Kevin Larkin
  • Katy Freye


trails, recreation, management actions, motorized, nonmotorized, technological clusters, outgroups


Understanding differences between various types of recreation user groups is key to planning for and managing resources to meet needs and achieve social, environmental and economic benefits. One of the outdoor recreation resources often used by recreationists is trails. The purpose of this study was to investigate how motorized users of trails differ from nonmotorized trail users as a way of understanding attitudes toward support for trail access for recreation activities, perceptions of importance of trail-related issues, and importance of specific trail management actions. Three groups of trail users, segmented according to technological dependence, were examined: (1) motorized users, (2) mixed users, and (3) nonmotorized users. Data were collected in Arizona, and a statewide sampling frame was applied. A combination of phone and mail instruments gathered data on trail opportunities in the state. The phone survey identified residents who participated in either motorized or nonmotorized trail uses, then the mail instrument gathered detailed information on level of trail use and opinions about various topics. This paper is based on 1,216 cases from the mail survey. Findings suggest motorized and nonmotorized trail users do differ and tend to feel access for their respective form of recreation is more important than access for other uses. All users preferred trails be managed for multiple uses but with motorized and nonmotorized activities separated. However, motorized and nonmotorized users were stronger supporters of single-activity trail use than the mixed users group. For specific recreation activities, motorized trail users were significantly more likely to feel access for motorized activities was more important than did nonmotorized users and vice versa. Greater overall support of nonmotorized trail activities was found with both motorized and nonmotorized users. Trail issues carried different levels of importance across the trail user groups. Motorized users expressed greater concern for litter and trash along trails, support for motorized recreation, and access to trails than did nonmotorized users. Nonmotorized users expressed greater concern for trail-funding issues and availability of directional signs. Translating issues into actions, nonmotorized trail users rated several management actions as being significantly more important than did motorized users. These results suggest agencies should maintain existing trails by repairing those that have been over used or are deteriorating. Managers may gain insight into two different groups, motorized and nonmotorized trail users.