Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Split Rock & Hikers With a Message

Editor's Note: We do not endorse the view expressed in this video that fire roads should be excluded to mountain biking. We do agree with the interviewee that unsafe speeds of bikes on fire roads is a safety issue that deserves better enforcement.

Erroded Trail. Interview

Monday, April 2, 2007

Forget New Trails, Increase Fines!

So far I'm going 1 ball, 1 strike with getting published in the IJ Opinion page over this manufactured story on booby-trapped trails. Here's my latest letter to the IJ

What’s Wrong With Fire Roads?

On Sunday April 1, I went hiking on some of my favorite narrow trails along San Pedro Ridge in Marin County Open Space. On one trail, I met a young mom carrying her baby in a baby backpack. This was the same trail where towards the middle of last year, I also caught an illegal trail builder who had just chain sawed a redwood tree to make a bridge and jump ramp on this illegal trail. He had also chipped away at the beautiful arrangement of rocks that formed a channel for a seasonal waterfall on this same trail. Can you imagine the nightmare this young mom could have encountered had she run into this guy speeding down the trail? This is the kind of scenario that Open Space officials will permit if they open up more narrow trails to mountain biking. Open Space is not in the business of creating more bike exclusive trails in our wilderness for a financially bloated group of special interest users either. That same day I also encountered a 3 foot long gopher snake sunning itself across the path. Speeding bikers don’t see these things nor do they have time to stop for them. The wilderness resident often left out of the discussion between hikers and mountain bikers is the array of wildlife who inhabit these regions. Wilderness bike riding is a relative new comer in the complex equation of managing trail use. A false perception advanced by the mountain bike community is that they are being ‘discriminated’ against by official limits placed upon their usage of open space trails. As someone pointed out here a few weeks ago, mountain bikers can use any trail that hikers can- they only have to leave their bikes behind. The mountain bike must be thought of as a mechanized means of transport. Today’s mountain bikes are more like lightweight motorcycles than bicycles. Those in the mountain bike community who are pushing for more narrow trail access don’t want to amble along slowly on these trails. They want the speed and thrill of rushing past trees, vegetation and natural formations. They are lying if they tell you otherwise. One only needs to visit their web sites and read their literature to corroborate this fact. I believe this kind of trail usage is out of sync with the wilderness experience because it is inherently dangerous. Open Space organizations are exposing the county to huge liabilities if and when the circumstances are right for serious collisions. This entire debate was instigated by illegal trail use and the discovery by an illegal trail user of a legitimate fence, illegitimately tampered with after being safely erected by Open Space officials to prevent illegal trail use. The misconception that this was a deliberate booby-trapping by Open Space personnel is still evident in the writing of the mountain bike advocates like Kirsten Moore in Monday’s IJ.
The debate needs to focus around INCREASING the fines for illegal trail riding and not opening even more narrow trails to this self serving, dangerous sport.

John Parulis