It’s never been more important to support IMBA, especially if you live in California. With the recent enforcement/ bike ban of the popular UCSC trails in Santa Cruz, as well as the impending CA State Parks Wilderness Bill, there is a serious threat for mountain bikers and trails statewide, and we need everyone to register with IMBA California to defeat it.
Even if you can’t invest time, you can still help, simply by joining IMBA.
IMBA California has been working hard to:
- Open existing trails in CA State Parks to mountain bike use
- Open new trails in cities near you and on National Forest and BLM lands
- Develop a powerful, coordinated statewide voice for mountain bikers
- Improve relations and form partnerships for better riding and preserving access
- Get more riders involved in advocacy, speaking for the trails, and talking to local politicians about the need for increased mountain bike access
- Preserve bicycle access in potential Wilderness areas and influence bike-friendly land conservation legislation
What’s happening in Santa Cruz:
Recently Tom Ward of IMBA CA was in Santa Cruz at a meeting with local mountain bikers (Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz). The presenting issue was that state park rangers will start enforcing a “no bikes” rule on user built trails in Cowell State Park. The mountain bikers were very (obviously) unhappy about this and expressed their frustration to the park ranger who was brave enough to attend the meeting. The reason for the new enforcement is twofold: there has been an increase in ranger staffing and complaints from neighbors about the increased traffic in their area from shuttles supporting downhillers.
There is a backdrop to this current situation.
Ironically, most of the single track trails in Santa Cruz are user built and in fact, are not legal to ride. It has been this way for years. Locals know the trails and there are unofficial maps of where to ride. The “secret'” eventually leaked out. The reputation of fun, challenging trails has drawn more and more riders from the Bay Area, which has been noticed. Many local companies in the bike industry have also used the trails to demo their products. These trails that were once below the radar of park rangers are now becoming increasingly busy as riders flock to them on weekends.
Over two years ago, IMBA California partnered with the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz in presenting a formal proposal to State Park managers to open selected trails to bikes in three of the local state parks. The intention was to gradually make more trails available to bikes, thus increasing opportunities and decreasing the need for user built trails. There were many follow up meetings on the plan which eventually resulted in approval for one trail for bike access in Castle Rock. The other pieces of the proposal languished in the state park bureaucracy for reasons too numerous to state here.
Given the history of years of past riding on user built trails, the new enforcement edict, and the fact that Parks has moved so slowly to open existing trails to bikes, it is no wonder that people are unhappy. There has been talk of mass disobedience, demonstrations and letter writing to pressure Parks into taking productive action instead of resorting to enforcement. Tom’s suggestion to the group was to request an open dialogue meeting with the park superintendent where many riders can come to express their concern. The idea would be to let management know first hand of the frustrations and the need to take action on the long standing proposal for more access on existing trails. Plans for this course of action are now in the works.
(thanks to Tom Ward for the update.)