Letter from the Editors — Winter 2023

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Let’s Be Reasonable

The idea of risk in aerial activities is polarizing. The aerial adventure industry’s roots are in activities that were designed to incorporate an element of risk (more apparent than real) into the experience. Of course, the industry has evolved dramatically, and there’s greater exposure for operators, designers, and builders as adventure parks and zip line tours get bigger, taller, and faster. With that, the idea of risk and safety becomes more complicated.

In “State of the Standards” (p. 46), a group of experts describe some potential impacts the new ANSI/ACCT Draft Standard could have on designers, installers, inspectors, trainers, and operators. One of the biggest impacts: the drafters’ decision that hand braking, as a primary brake, is not an acceptable risk.

From what we know, data doesn’t show, so far, that active participation (hand braking) is more dangerous than passive ridership (auto braking). At the same time, it’s clear that there are limits to the practicality of hand braking; for most longer and faster zip lines, active participation becomes unreasonable.

Therein lies the key: What is reasonable? In our litigious society, courts require reasonableness, not guarantees. There is no guarantee of safety on a zip line, active or passive.

Of course, operators have a duty of care to act in a reasonable and responsible way to mitigate and minimize risks. That duty of care owed to guests in regards to safety equipment is explored in “Reasonable Expectations” (p. 40).

Being reasonable and responsible also applies to business decisions, which should be informed by the data you collect (as recommended in “Measure What Matters,” p. 24). In “The Preliminary Findings” (p. 50), we share some initial data and analysis from API’s annual State of the Industry Survey.

Unfortunately, participation in this year’s survey was lackluster. We’ve analyzed the data with our usual care and comprehensive scope and know you’ll still find valuable insights from this limited survey pool—but our analytics are limited by your response. This survey is for you and depends on you. To those who participated, thank you for sharing. Your contributions support the whole industry.

— The Editors

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