Public land use policy should work to include all rather than exclude many.
Exactly. There are, however, some unfortunate truths that get in the way of this.
Government bureaucracy, while a stereotype of red tape and inefficiency if a problem. I am not going to point blame at the workers in the field or the policy makers. Whatever the cause, it is a real issue. Once you get to a state or federal level, common sense is usually out the window.
The many vs. few argument is also impeded by the groups themselves. In my area each group is out for themselves and sometimes intentionally cuts out other groups. Horse owners are the smallest group (or the least organized/least vocal) and we end up losing the most. The hikers don't want to share trails with the bikers who don't want to share trails with the horses. They often argue that horse trails should be closed and opened up to biking. Once they have access to any trail they argue how "unsafe" it is to share because the "horses might spook."
Other areas might be different, but I wonder how much. Several comments on this board show that at least some of "us" might have a problem sharing trails. Of course there are "rude" ATV, mountain bikers and hikers. There are also "rude" horse people. Just as we complain about them on forums like this, they do the same on their forums. There are rude people (or just folks who don't know better) everywhere.
Like a friend of mine says - we all need to put on our "big boy pants" and deal with it.
While we complain that "they" ruin a trail or create a dangerous situation, they can just as easily do the same. A bureaucrat sitting in Washington or a state capital doesn't care who is right. They will either segregate the trails or close them altogether. Everyone loses.
You can also find answers by following the money. ATV manufacturers, logging companies, mountain bike companies... they all have a vested interest in designated trail use. They also have money to throw at the issue - through advertising, press outlets and political donations. This "education" has more impact than horse owners, who for the most part, approach the topic as separate individuals - rather than large corporations or powerful lobbying groups. (Yes, we have some groups on our side, but they don't carry the clout of the large commercial organizations).