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I just went for a walk at the local mountain bike trailhead. In the full-to-overflow parking lot, there’s one trash can, no toilet, and cars parked down the street for a mile. Behind the first tree on the trail are uncountable fresh human turds, not to mention the inevitable dog and horse shit [1]. Turns out even mountain bikers gotta take a dump.

I also just got back from Rifle Mountain Park. No turds (dog, human, or horse), very little trash. What’s the difference? Could it be the porta-potty in every pull-out and campground, ditto trash cans, ditto full dog-bag dispensers? [2]

Huh. Turns out if you make it easy, people throw away their trash and pick up the dog poop.

There are dog poop bag dispensers on the local trail, which I appreciate. But they are ten minutes away from the start, by which time my dogs have already gone. Thanks, but why not have one at the beginning? And a porta-potty.

I’m no saint – if there are a million dog turds around, I’m not inclined to pick up mine. What’s the point? But if there’s a dispenser and a bin at the trailhead, then I do. Funny old human nature.

I notice the same thing in Europe. There’s a trash can every block, so there’s less trash. Not none – less. We civilized USAns can’t have trash bins cluttering up our nice neighborhood (attracts the wrong element [3]), so people just toss it out, and I pick it up off my lawn every morning.


[1] I don’t know why it’s the law to pick up dog shit and not horse shit. Shit is shit. You’re on a pack animal. Get off the damn horse, shovel it into a bag, and carry it off in your saddlebags. Horse shit is the reason the popular running trails are full of nasty flies. I grew up on a ranch, so I’m a bit more familiar with horse shit than most, having eaten my fair share of it (no getting around getting shit kicked into your face on branding and nut-cutting day – there’s a reason for those bandana’s). But still, shit is shit and flies are flies. Just because they eat hay doesn’t make it nicer.

[2] It could have something to do with the $5 day-use fee too, I suppose. But I just bought an annual pass because I like having the Rifle pass on my car. I’d buy an Arroyo pass for some reasonable fee to have a clean toilet and dog bags and bins at the trailhead. But a toilet would attract homeless people so we can’t have that.

[3] I’ve had people yell at me when I put something in their bin on trash day!