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


Iggy said...

You're an ignorant hippie.

Iggy said...

Baby in a backpack? Are you just bullshitting now to make your point completely biased toward your views? This is ridiculous. If you start setting up traps for mountain bikers thats much worse than us riding down 2 foot wide trails meandering through the woods. You're ridiculous.

down said...

so say you set these "traps", what about the mom that can also walk on your trap and hurt the "baby" just as well if not more so. Stupid idea.

cwells said...

As an avid mtb rider all I have to say is that yes there are a few rouge trail users but by in large most mtbrs are very nice and Courteous to all types of trail users, and if it wasn't for organized mtb group I would guaranty that all of use would have significantly less trails use. We spend more time building an maintaining trails that just about any other organization. It has gotten to point that equestrians in my are starting loose out on trail access because they do not want volunteer or help promote or build new trails.

James said...

"Today’s mountain bikes are more like lightweight motorcycles than bicycles."
Bike = Human powered
Moto = Gas engine

There are some rogue trail builders, but what do you think will work better - educating them and working with them or trying to battle them?

What we have in this blog is an example of someone trying to write about something of which they seem to have little real knowledge. This sort of thing usually does not work out well, and this is no exception.

Turquoise said...

Parulis, you are absolutely right about the damage done by mountain bikers. That they are hyper-aggressive is clear by some of the nasty comments left here. They gouge narrow channels into trails that further erode when it rains, ruining trails - despite their claims about being 'concerned' and working to build trails. They're not there to enjoy nature, but to rip through it. They are a hazard to walkers and wildlife. John Parulis, thank you for your courage.