The Bay Area is the home place of mountain biking. You wouldn’t know it based on the limited number of bike friendly trails though. Although we live in a place that has the goods to be known world wide as a destination for single track MTB tourism, the area is known for being extremely unfriendly to off-road cycling. The irony is that the entire Bay is surrounded by green space owned by East Bay Regional parks managed for the purpose of recreation. How is it that all the recreational users except for cyclists are addressed? Instead, cyclists are greeted with “No Bicycles” signs, and the threat of high dollar citations. Mountain biking isn’t completely banned from our natural green spaces though. We’re allowed access to natural surface dirt roads. In fact, one could feasibly travel all the way around the Bay Area on the Ridge Trails and log hundreds of miles. Just not on narrow single trail trail, which is the actual trail experience most of us are out seeking.
Let’s be honest. It’s a pretty f*cked up situation. Even more ironic is that when you ride the natural surface roads, the other trail users tend to be quite rude. The strangest thing though is that forbidden single track trails are often empty and devoid of hikers. Everyone would probably get along better if we just rode those sweet narrow trails and let the hikers and dog walkers take over the roads. It’s not like the actual trails get a lot of use. They don’t even argue wear and tear or sustainability- they just don’t like us.
It’s been like this for over a generation, and most people, realizing they don’t have 10 years to piss away hoping for things to change and the chance to legally ride the trails, simply ride them at night. You’re discouraged from talking about it on the internet on discussion forums, but everyone does it. A complete culture of disobedience has formed, and that is the current status quo.
Since we’ve moved back to the area, we’ve aligned ourselves with other mountain bikers that are working to improve the situation. And you know what? Things look like they could actually change in the reasonably near future. We just received word from Michael Meija, the President of the Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay who elaborated more on a possibly opportunity to break down the stone wall, and why ALL of us that live to ride need to stand up and get our shit together to act now:
The two principle reasons we have not historically had access to trails in EBRPD parks are, firstly, that the Master Plan which predates MTB did not contain any references to bikes to include them in the parks. Subsequent revisions failed to include us simply because of the second reason; there weren’t enough of us to make a difference. As such, folks who opposed our presence needed only to point to those documents and we were dead in the water. It was not enough to argue rights or fairness; we were flatly out positioned.
Today our children and grandchildren are mountain biking in a world which values good health and exercise. For each stable opening 5 are closing. The balance is shifting in our favor. Recent events with the Pleasanton Ridge and Feeder #1 Trails support our presence in parks by fixing us in essential documents much to our favor. These are important signs.
It is in this context that the Master Plan is being reviewed. Currently there is new language to expand the trail system by providing more dedicated and shared-use (that’s us) narrow trails, and more multiple-use (that’s us, too) paved and unpaved trails. We want to support this and continue to encourage the fair sharing of current trails. No longer will antis be able to point to documents keeping us out; the essential document will read differently.
The first of a series of 6 Public Comment meetings is being held Tuesday in Oakland. I’m guessing that this may bring large group of anti-mtb folk out to push back, alarmed to see changes they had not anticipated. Our presence is important to off-set theirs. I am bringing as many as I can, in addition to NorCal racers, their famlies, and coaches. We need to show the magnitude of our demographic and the richness of our culture. It is a short meeting. Please make a special effort to be there to speak or just show support. Don’t let the antis win because we failed to show up.
Tuesday, September 11, 2012. 7 – 8:30 p.m. – Oakland
Richard Trudeau Training Center, Redwood Regional Park
11500 Skyline Blvd Oakland, CA 94619
You heard the man. We’ll be at that first meeting. Just showing up and showing support for riding could help turn the tide.
If you can’t make any of the meetings, there are other things you can do to help. The Park District is welcoming public comment for the next month. Taking the time to write a letter or shoot off an email could have significant impact. Here are a list of sample talking points you could use for your email:
- Express your support for the proposed change to the Master Plan, indicating your desire for the District to provide more shared-use narrow trails.
- Ask the Board to add language to the Master Plan indicating a goal to provide more narrow-trail experiences for mountain bikers on existing trails, as well as new ones. This needs to be done to reflect demographics of the District, which have changed dramatically since the last revision of the Master Plan.
- Let the Board know that Ordinance 38, which controls trails usage, needs to be changed to eliminate the rule prohibiting bikes on narrow trails, and that this needs to be done soon after the Master Plan is adopted.
- Ask the Board to continue to encourage more participation from the public in their work, including efforts to prepare this Master Plan. Park users can be intimately involved in implementing policies, to the benefit of all.
Write to the following on the Board of Directors:
1) Whitney Dotson firstname.lastname@example.org
Albany, Berkeley, El Cerrito, Emeryville, Kensington, Richmond, San Pablo.
2) John Sutter email@example.com
Canyon, Lafayette, Moraga, Oakland north of approx. 35th Ave., Orinda, Piedmont.
3) Carol Severin firstname.lastname@example.org
Castro Valley, part of Fremont, Hayward, San Lorenzo, Union City.
4) Doug Siden email@example.com
Alameda, Oakland south of approx. 35th Ave., San Leandro.
5) Ayn Waskom firstname.lastname@example.org
South and east Alameda County: Dublin, part of Fremont, Livermore, Newark, Pleasanton, Sunol.
6) Beverly Lane email@example.com
The 680 corridor north of Dublin: Alamo, Clayton, Concord, Danville, Diablo, Pleasant Hill, San Ramon, Walnut Creek.
7) Ted Radke firstname.lastname@example.org
North Contra Costa: Antioch, Bay Point, Byron, Crockett, Discovery Bay, El Sobrante, Hercules, Martinez, Oakley, Pinole, Pittsburg, Port Costa, Rodeo.