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9 best practices for publishing mountain bike trail conditions

Sustainable trails require trail organizations, managers and stewards to regularly communicate trail status and conditions to riders so they can make an informed decision about safely riding a given system at a given time. Here are some best practices for building trust via regular updates published via your web site, social media, or an app-based system like Trailbot.

1. Create a Single Source of Truth

Create a single, definitive source for the latest updates (e.g. your web site) and consistently direct people to that source or use a tool that will publish a single update across multiple channels simultaneously. When using other channels like social media, funnel people back to the source of truth. Be sure to keep all your channels updated at the same time to reduce conflicting updates that will lead to confusion. Maintaining consistent information no matter where it is viewed is the single biggest way to build trust with your community of riders.

2. Avoid Relying on Algorithms

Don't solely depend on algorithm-driven platforms like Facebook for updates. These platforms may not always reach the intended audience due to unpredictable algorithms or user preferences. Read more about the pitfalls of depending on social media feeds for distributing your updates.

3. Avoid Single Points of Failure

Appoint multiple individuals within the trail maintenance team to share updates. This ensures that up-to-date information is disseminated even if one person is unavailable.

4. Provide Updates Ahead of Time

When ambiguity is expected, such as during adverse weather conditions or scheduled maintenance, communicate updates ahead of time. This allows riders to plan accordingly and reduces frustration.

5. Provide ETA for Further Updates

When announcing upcoming changes or closures, include an estimated time for the next update. This manages expectations, reduces ad-hoc inquiries and keeps riders informed about when they can expect more information.

6. Be Consistent

Maintain a consistent schedule for updates, whether it's daily, weekly, or based on specific events. Consistency helps riders know when to expect information and builds trust in the communication process.

7. Post Even When Nothing Has Changed

Regularly post updates, even if there are no changes to the trail status. This reassures riders that the communication channel is active and that no news is good news. If trail conditions have not changed, consider posting about related topics that affect the trail like volunteer opportunities, special events, etc.

8. Provide Time Context

Clearly state the time context of the information. For example, mention "as of [date and time]" to convey the freshness of the update. Additionally, if there's an expected resolution time, communicate that information as well.

9. Show Don't Tell

Utilize pictures or video to illustrate trail conditions whenever possible. A picture can convey more information than text alone and helps riders better understand the current situation. Social media posts with pictures also tend to be shown to people more often and increase engagement.

Trailbot was designed to help trail managers effectively implement these best practices. Trailbot enhances your communication strategy, ensuring that mountain bikers are well-informed and can enjoy a safe and satisfying riding experience.

Learn more about adding your trail system to Trailbot