Two commercial helicopter companies announced a few days ago that they will offer heli-biking in Switzerland from next summer. A practice by which Mountainbikes and their riders are flown on mountain tops, and then ride their mountain bikes down the mountain trails. Mountain Wilderness Switzerland strongly opposes this offer.
It will start by next summer on selected mountains in canton Valais, (Switzerland). However, Mountain Wilderness Switzerland warns of negative consequences for the alpine world, its inhabitants and conflicts that heli-biking will trigger.
Mountain Wilderness Switzerland criticises this pratice and argues that by using hiking paths to ride their way down the valleys these cyclists will provoke conflicts with traditional users.
“Many hikers are already negatively disposed towards cyclists. If heli-biking establishes itself, this antagonism will just increase,” the organisation said in a statement on Monday, referring to the “absurd trend” that has already reached Italy, Romania, New Zealand and the Americas.
In addition Mountain Wilderness is pointing out the additional noise and carbon dioxide emissions caused by these helicopter motions.
There are 40 mountain landing spots for helicopters in Switzerland, 19 of which are in canton Valais, but it is not yet clear which ones will be used for heli-biking.
According to Katharina Conradin, director of Mountain Wilderness Switzerland, around 28,000 landings are made to these helipads every year, with the number of passengers estimated at 25,000 and rising. The increase in passengers is primarily connected to tourism, she said.
Mountain Wilderness also slammed Switzerland Tourism, a “public service body which on behalf of the government markets Switzerland as a tourist destination and which is promoting heli-tourism” creating acceptance of this form of transport for ‘outdoor sport’ activities”.
Mountain Wilderness’s criticism of heli-skiing is not new though. The organization has been involved since a long time in actions against this practice well established under a Swiss legal framework