3. Identify the Root Causes of these Issues

What is Root Cause Analysis?

An analysis that seeks to truly understand an issue is called a Root Cause Analysis. We observe most issues by first noticing their symptoms. If one then addresses the symptoms, it may seem like success, but the underlying problem still exists. To truly solve a problem, one must treat the underlying problem or Root Cause.

Example 1

If your car has a tire that’s low on air, simply adding more air treats the symptom, not the cause of the problem. If the tire leaks because it has a nail in it, adding air takes care of the immediate problem, but doesn’t fix it. You must find the nail, remove it and patch the hole, or you’re just treating a symptom.

How does this apply to trail and user group issues?

If your program addresses a symptom (i.e. let’s smile and be friendly), rather than a root cause of conflict, then it won’t truly fix the problem.

Example 2

We also found that most fast trail users don’t understand the “startle factor” – the impact they have on nearby slower trail users…

Less agile trail users, including seniors, parents with kids, and some equestrians can be frightened by the sudden appearance of a fast-moving person near them on the trail. The fast-moving person – a mountain biker, jogger, or a loping horse, was likely unaware that the encounter was a problem since there was no contact, no blood or broken bones.

However, the frightened person had a very different reaction which was to avoid that trail in the future. This is the definition of displacement. Displacement impacts the very groups we want to encourage to enjoy our trails.

Most user groups don't know the safety needs of other user groups.
SAFETY: It's both real and perceived. Users must feel safe on the trail.

The conclusion:

One of the root causes of trail user conflict is that most user groups don’t know the safety needs of other user groups.

This is a core principle and leads to the most effective approach for resolving trail issues…