Wednesday, September 26, 2012

They're Baaaack! Mountain Bikes in the State Parks

Just why is it that State Parks is so hell-bent on opening up more and more trails to mountain bikers?  In this time of budget deficits and parks closing, lack of rangers and just plain old general maintenance, they want to give over a popular hiking trail, Bill's Trail, in Samuel P. Taylor Park, to the spandex crowd.

We have successfully forced environmental review, citizen oversight and other measures in protecting trails throughout the system, but they don't give up.  Doggedly determined, Parks officials keep pushing the bike agenda, now planning to search out $350,000 to "ready" the trail for the onslaught.  This in a time of budget deficits and lack funds for of regular maintenance and enforcement as it is.  It is unconscionable in this climate to seek funding for yet another mountain bike playland. Yes, mountain biking is a popular sport; so is off-roading and dune-buggying.  Snowmobiling. If popularity were the test, we'd have Xtreme bikathons every weekend all through our public parks and open spaces.

Other concerns should matter more. Erosion, habitat protection, waterway preservation. Peace and tranquility.  Get off your bike and take a hike.  If you want nature, ditch the spandex and machinery and walk.

If you want speed, take to the roads.   With a set of wheels all too often comes a sense of entitlement. "Share the road! share the trail!" is the rallying cry.  Yes, share the road, but why the trail, where one can have an all too rare chance to leave the hustle and bustle of urban life behind and enjoy nature, with its subtle rustlings tweetings and burblings?   

And there are plenty of existing existing fire roads, where well-behaved bikers have always been welcome.  But so many of today's "bikers behaving badly" have taken over the terrain, sharing is hardly an option anymore. Anyone who's been out walking lately in State, County or water district lands is all too familiar with loud voices, speeding bikes and rude riders.  Are they minority?  I don't think we can say that anymore.  It's time for a change.

Here's a small one we can easily implement - I've said it before and I'll keep saying it, we need to license bicycles like they used to do.  In fact, the California Vehicle Code provides for cities and Counties to do just that, which some, like Santa Cruz does.  Why not Marin?

Here is the Code section that permits this simple measure:
License Requirement. VC 39002

a) A city or county may adopt a bicycle licensing ordinance or resolution providing that no resident shall operate any bicycle on any street, road, highway, or other public property within the city of county, unless such bicycle is licensed in accordance with this division.

b) Any bicycle not licensed under this division may be additionally regulated or licensed pursuant to local ordinance or may be licensed upon request of the owner.

c) It is illegal for any person to to tamper with, destroy, mutilate or alter any license indicia (marking) or registration form or to remove, alter, or mutilate the serial number, or the identifying marks of a licensing agency's identifying symbol on any bicycle frame licensed under the provision of this division.

It's a small step toward enforcement of the few rules that aim to protect the landscape, but it could be a help in identifying scofflaws.  "Officer, I got his license number!" might slow down the worst offenders. Although probably not.
And no matter how many trails are groomed, signed and made available to them, there are always demands for more, and worse, continual stealth creation of new trails, through rougher terrain, further degrading the environment for the pleasure of the (mostly) testosterone driven over-acheivers, in search of the next high.
    Illegal trail on Mt. Tam created by mountain bikers.

It might be better for all concerned if they'd just take up smoking crack instead. 

Bring on the nasty comments.


Anonymous said...

Kudos, Dotty. Wish more would speak out against the scofflaw bikers poaching our trails.

Anonymous said...

more Kudos, Dotty. This modification to Bill's Trail will install approx. 100 "pinch points" to slow down a user group that cannot self-moderate itself. No pinch points are needed for hikers or equestrians, yet we will have to deal with the inconvenience and increased danger of a negotiating pinch points while bikes will still be going too fast. Their own organization (IMBA)has recently stated that for land managers, SEPARATE tails for bikes may be the prudent way to go. This is the only thing that will work in the long run, since mb trails are constructed differently than horse/hiker trails to be sustainable-with rolled up berms for flow trails... take a look at Camp Tamarancho bike trails (all the environmental damage there to the trees). State Parks continues the illogical and dangerous procedures instituted under a directorship that for many years ignored the concerns of hikers and equestrians. Don't believe me? who is willing to hike or ride at China Camp State Park where STRAVA bike runs show speeds of 40 MPH on multi use trails?