The Newspaper of the San Francisco Bay Chapter
September - October 2007
East Bay Parks to keep bikes off narrow trail
The environmental community won a small but significant victory for sensible trail usage and enjoyment in our regional parks on Aug. 21.
The Board of the East Bay Regional Park District Board met to consider opening up a portion of the very narrow Pine Tree Trail in Briones Regional Park to mountain bikes. This is an extremely narrow trail with a tunnel effect because of the overhanging vegetation. Mountain bikers have long wanted access to this trail for the experience of going up and then down through this tunnel. Hikers and equestrians spoke out on grounds of safety against allowing bikes here.
The Park District staff recommended opening up the trail. They argued that the trail would provide bikers with an alternative to a dangerous stretch of county road through the park, but they had no statistics on traffic accidents with bikes on this road.
Initially, the Board had been sympathetic to the proposal, but decided on a site visit. There boardmembers were treated to the all-too-common experience of a mountain biker illegally speeding down the trail, forcing boardmembers out of the way. At the Board meeting a number of boardmembers remarked on this experience.
Staff came back with the recommendation to permit bikes to be ridden uphill but not downhill. Given that it is a lot more fun to ride downhill than up, and with the limited enforcement of the mountain bike rules on the Park District lands, this would effectively have completely opened the entire trail to bikes.
The Board voted 4 - 3 against the proposal. Directors Beverly Lane, Carole Severin, Nancy Skinner, and John Sutter were in the majority. Directors Doug Siden, Ted Radke, and Ayn Wieskamp voted for opening up the trail to bikes. Director Wieskamp vociferously compared rogue bike riders with rogue hikers. She can rest assured, however, that whatever rogue hikers there may be, they are unlikely to come down-trail at 25 - 30 mph as mountain bikers routinely do.
For now, the Board's decision makes hikers on the Pine Tree Trail a little safer.
© 2007 San Francisco Sierra Club Yodeler
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