To the majority of more-or-less-responsible cyclists, the term "etiquette" when related to trails is about sharing, i.e. IMBA's share the trails message. It's about accommodating the needs of other trail users so that a peaceful co-existence is possible. Yield to horse riders (for your safety, as well as theirs) and that kind of thing. Talk to hikers; say something nice about a dog. A trail users' variation of the golden rule might be something like "Treat others on the trail, the way you would want to be treated."

Similar constraints and responsible behaviors can be lumped into the etiquette bucket. Keep on the trail. Don't litter. Don't ride when the trails are wet. Don't skid (it weakens the trailbed, leading to ruts and stutter bumps). Stop and render assistance. These are the decent citizen level of trail cyclist behavioral norms.

The next level of social mores is for cyclists to embrace the progression of technical riding, or choose to walk around obstacles that present too daunting a challenge. The ethic is something like: raise your riding, rather than lower the trail. Experienced cross-country riders feel a sense of loss when they discover that a newbie with a tool has neutered the trail of a root or log that required bike-handling skill to overcome... and enjoy.

Most riders just "get it" when it comes to these rules of the trail. They either relate their experience in other social settings to their time outdoors, or they pick it up along the way from riding buddies. Sometimes, they learn from temporarily adopting the other person's point of view. Nothing will teach you the value of announcing your approach to hikers like taking a walk (with kids and/or dog) on a weekend on a trail system full of fast-moving cyclists.

Why do I raise these points that 95% of bike mojo readers already know? Because even they seem to not apply the common courtesy of exercised in trail situations to the one that is dearest to me: bmx trails, aka dirt jumps. What I want everyone to think first when they see a set of jumps or rollers is...a lot of work went into making and maintaining them. Those humps didn't form by natural causes. The jumps didn't build themselves. Unlike smooth singletrack, riding them doesn't make them better. It erodes them like skidding does on a downhill, or like riding through a puddle makes ruts, or riding around a puddle makes singletrack into a cartpath.

Without the hard work of a few people, hauling water, working with tools: sweeping, repairing damage, digging and tamping (kind of like breaking rock with a sledgehammer, only for packing dirt)...those bmx trail features would slowly melt away. Riding the rollers or rolling through the jumps without ever helping with water and a shovel is akin to cutting out the roots, logs and moving rocks on singletrack. It damages the jumps in a way that makes them less fun for the more skilled riders.

Even if this message falls on deaf ears, it made me feel a wee bit better. If you insist on rolling the jumps - you know, they're called "jumps" for a reason: you're expected to actually jump them - please do yourself the favor of saving your own neck. Ride by and look at the mounds before you attempt to ride over them; they may require a jump. You wouldn't dive into water not knowing how deep it is, would you?

If you like challenging yourself a little on the rollers (or even a bit more on the doubles), ask a bmx rider or dirt jumper how you can help keep those up and/or make more. Not to do so is not just poor etiquette, it's bad manners.