The New England Mountain Bike Patrol, a volunteer program of the New England Mountain Bike Association, was founded in 1996 to educate and assist all trail users at the Middlesex Fells in Massachusetts. Since then, the Patrol has expanded to include Lynn Woods and Great Brook Farm State Park in Massachusetts, and a patrol is in the process of forming at Arcadia State Park in Rhode Island. The Patrol has proven to be a positive influence in areas where it has been established. In some areas it can even be said that the establishment of a patrol program has been integral in keeping the property open to bikes.
Patrollers' responsibilities generally include:
- Educating cyclists on the trail about responsible mountain biking and park policy.
- Offering assistance (e.g., maps, directions, First Aid, tools) to all trail users.
- Listening to park visitors' concerns and answering questions.
- Reporting fires, vandalism, and other problems to the land managers.
- Surveying trail use patterns and making recommendations to the land managers and NEMBA Trail Bosses for maintenance.
- Other responsibilities that vary depending on the individual property being patrolled.
What Patrollers Do
Patrollers ride in the parks (solo, in pairs, or in groups), concentrating on areas that need more attention and spending time at the parking lots, which are a good place to talk with users of the area. Patrollers wear readily recognizable red jerseys with the New England Mountain Bike Patrol logo. They greet users and offer assistance or advice as needed. At least one member of each team carries a cellular telephone for reporting emergencies. Patrollers also carry maps, educational materials, tools, and First Aid kits. All Patrollers are certified to perform First Aid and CPR.
After each patrol, Patrollers file a brief report which also varies from area to area. The data collected in these reports are forwarded periodically to the land managers.
Over the past year alone, Patrollers regionwide have contributed over 1400 hours on the trails. Patrol activities have included providing First Aid for a variety of minor injuries, performing numerous minor bike repairs (including many broken chains and flat tires), giving directions, educating users of relevant regulations, and talking about NEMBA and it's many programs.
Visitors have been thankful for the maps we carried, and have expressed thanks for our presence and the sense of security it brings. In addition, the Patrol has reported actual and suspected forest fires, in one case extinguishing a small fire. The feedback provided by the Patrol to NEMBA Trail Bosses has been essential in identifying projects for the Merlin and Cannondale Trail Maintenance Series. Patrollers spread the word of NEMBA, its mission of trail access and the myriad of programs involved therein. Overall, the Patrol has been a wonderful way to develop a pool of concerned, dedicated volunteers from all over New England who participate in every aspect of NEMBA operations.
Patrol volunteers have also participated in community and benefit activities, such as the Medford Saving Lives kid's bike rodeo, NEMBAfest, the MDC Blue Hills Mountain Bike Day, the Middlesex Fells Family Day, the Multiple Sclerosis Ride for the Cure, and the Hartford Parks Bike Tour.
Requirements and Training
Prospective Patrollers must complete First Aid and CPR certification, participate in their chapter's Patrol training clinic, and participate in orientation rides before officially becoming part of the Patrol. These clinics are focused on the specific needs of that chapters patrol. Topics include, but are not limited to: emergency response, park policy, bike repair, communications skills, common on-trail scenarios, and logistics.
New This Year
A new arm of the patrol is starting up this year. The Trail Guide Program is for individuals that like to ride, interact with park users, but would rather not have the responsibility of First aid or CPR. Additionally Trail Guides can operate in other DEM sites. Training would be in conjunction with the patrol clinic. Trail Guides have the opportunity to become Patrollers at any time by becoming certified in First aid and CPR. This training will be provided by NEMBA.
You may notice that riding skills are not listed as a Patrol requirement. While many members of the Patrol are experienced riders, Patrollers span the entire gamut of skill levels. Everyone goes at their own pace. We value dedication over experience, and hope that everyone will benefit from each other's experience.
The Patrol "season" spans Spring, Summer, and Fall, and some patrols even go through the winter months. A commitment of a full season is expected. Patrollers are encouraged to spend at least 6 hours a month on the trail. Patrol hours are flexible and are encouraged at peak hours, during weekend and weekday evenings. Patrollers are also encouraged to help with cycling-related and community events, such as the ones mentioned above, in order to educate a broader audience.
Although requirements are meant to be flexible, Patrollers must take their responsibilities seriously, as the investment in each member is significant, and Patrollers are serving as NEMBA's most public face.
Please contact one of the individuals below for information about joining the listed patrol units:
Middlesex Fells, Lynn Woods, and Great Brook, Massachusetts: Terry Kennedy, 978-902-8771
Arcadia State Park, Rhode Island: Tom Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit the RI Patrol web page by clicking here.
Any or all of the above Patrol Directors will help with information and insight if you are interested in starting a mountain bike Patrol in your area.