Innsbruck's public transport authorities have banned anyone riding a bike with a dual crown fork or using a full face helmet from using all public transport.
A ban against downhillers in the city first came after a violent incident involving a rider and a member of staff on the Nordketten-Bahn cable car that ended with the member of staff having to go to hospital.
Initially, the ban was only placed on the Nordketten-Bahn itself for the month of May, allowing riders with downhill bikes to use the rest of the public transport in the area, but recently IVB, the company that operates the trams, trains and buses, began to enforce the same ban across all of their own system of transportation as well. The ban at the moment specifically applies to downhill riders with other mountain bikers able to use the transportation as normal.
Riders in Innsbruck rely on the Hungerburgbahn funicular to access the Anzer Alm and Hungerburg trails and the Norketten-Bahn to access the infamous Nordkette singletrail. Some riders will also use public transport to get to the nearby Innsbruck Bike Park, which actually lies 6km out of the city centre in Mutters.Tirol ORF
reports that according to Thomas Schroll, managing director of the Nordketten-Bahn, "Up to 500 downhillers want to be transported to the Hungerburg Trail every day." Schroll has found that in recent years the number of incidents involving cyclists has risen and that downhillers have "no understanding" if they are refused access to the funicular. He said, "the problem of limits and lack of capacities in the spring and the usage conflicts with other guests has finally led us to take off downhill bikers for May."
Sabine Oswald from Downhill Club Tirol said, "The Hungerburgbahn is important to us. It would also be bad for the Bike-City Innsbruck if you can not go with the Hungerburgbahn." She blames "a few black sheep" for the ban that she does not believe should apply to all downhill riders. Another local news source, Der Standard
, reported that a number of parents who let their children use public transport so they can get access to the trails have found that members of staff have been aggressive towards their children and accuse the transport companies of presenting a biased view of the situation.
Innsbruck Tourism has also weighed in on the issue and seems keen to resolve it. They said, "We are aware of the issue, and are already working with the Innsbruck City Authorities to urgently find a solution. Obviously, quality mountain biking facilities and the corresponding infrastructure are an absolute priority for us at the Tourism Board, and it is of great importance to us that we resolve the situation quickly – and permanently."
Currently, it is unclear how far the ban extends but it does raise complex issues. What if a rider in a full face helmet with a trail/enduro bike tries to get on the transport, are they refused as well? The Nordketten-Bahn ban is currently only planned for the month of May but there is no official confirmation on how long the ban on the IVB network will last or if it will affect Crankworx next month. We'll update this story when we have any more information.