Friday, January 02, 2009

Cyclists trash city park

Cyclists behave badly on city streets and in city parks (see Examiner story below in italics), in the city and in the suburbs. A few years ago I wrote about how mountain bikers were misbehaving in Marin County's watershed, intimidating hikers and people on horseback as they pursue their speed and thrills hobby on hiking trails and fire roads.

Like their comrades here in SF, in Marin they also try to make their own trails on public property.

But at least mountain bikers, boorish as they can be, admit that their hobby is all about speed and thrills, unlike the cyclists in SF who get their kicks speeding down city hills, running stop signs, and scattering pedestrians in their wake.

Cyclists seek to lay claim to trails
By Beth Winegarner
Examiner Staff Writer 12/1/08

Some mountain-bike fans are pining for trails of their own in city parks, but others are taking matters into their own hands, cutting trails in remote areas that neighbors say cause erosion — and danger for the cyclists who use them.

San Francisco’s park system has multiuse trails for bicyclists, however, they’re shared with dog walkers and pedestrians — a setup that makes trails less fun for everyone, according to Dan Schneider, co-founder of SF Urban Riders.

Off-road cycling, including stunt cycling, has become more popular among residents, but San Francisco offers no dedicated space for them, he said.

“Multiuse trails can’t have any jumps or skills features, and you can’t go at the speed of your choosing,” Schneider said. “It’s just not fair or safe to anyone.”

The dearth of space for those pastimes have led some groups to build illegal trails, ramps and other features in treacherous parts of Mount Sutro and McLaren Park, according to Franco Mancini of Friends of McLaren Park.

Unknown cyclists dug trails in a remote area of McLaren and built ramps, chutes and other props for stunts, according to Mancini.

“Nobody objects to bicyclists in the park, but this can cause erosion,” Mancini said. “And if one were to get hurt, emergency personnel would take forever to find them and pull them out of there.”

The push for mountain-bike trails in San Francisco’s parks dates back 10 years or more, according to Andy Thornley, program manager for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Mountain bikers worked with the Music Concourse Community Partnership to establish some trails within Golden Gate Park, but those plans have yet to move forward, Thornley said.

“There really aren’t many places in The City to legally ride off-road,” he said. “There’s a better job The City could be doing.”

Schneider has urged cyclists to approach Recreation and Park Department officials to ask for their own trails and features — and to work with The City’s nature stewards to make sure they don’t propose trails in environmentally sensitive areas, he said.

Those officials are hearing the call — and are willing to begin talks with bikers, according to Rec and Park General Manager JaredBlumenfeld.

“Mountain bikers want something in steep terrain, and BMXers want things that could be accommodated in neighborhood parks,” Blumenfeld said. “I think those activities will get integrated into our parks in some way.”

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At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

News Flash:
1. Cranky Rob reveals SF traffic problems caused by mountain bikers in parks.
2. Authorities fail to accomodate needs of disparate path users.
3. Refinement of SF streets to better support needs of cyclists set to proceed.

At 2:52 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

This just in, Philip: the Bicycle Plan has nothing about creating paths for mountain bikers in city parks. Exactly how the Plan better supports the needs---and fails to support the needs of everyone else---of cyclists in SF remains to be seen. It would beef up your comment with some actual substance if you read the EIR on the Bicycle Plan, which is available online.

At 11:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found the articles (accessible by links provided above) about SF's struggles with inappropriate use of parks by mountain bikers to be very worthwhile reading. The situation down there seems to have some serious problems.

To name a couple; a park volunteer (actually, a mountain bike enthusiast working with the parks as a mountain bike advocate)that clandestinely builds unauthorized illegal bike trails, and park employees that put up unsafe barriers using barb wire and forward directed iron stakes.

I realize people can do some amazing things with mountain bike and variations of them. What I wonder about some of the people that ride these bikes, and push for greater opportunity to ride them in parks, is how much they know, understand and respect of the standing reasons for which the parks in question have been set aside.

'singletrack'. This word hasn't been so familiar to me, though I've been hearing it for a number of years. Had been thinking it was a mountain bike specific term. A person interviewed in one of the articles makes it kind of clear that in terms of width, singletrack is essentially the same as a hiking trail.

I saw the little stats column in one of the articles. Aside from that, has some means been attempted to find out just how widespread amongst SF's population, interest in greater access to SF area trails...hiking trails I suppose that implies, actually is? Is 'widespread' even a valid term here? Or is the mountain bike in the parks segment of the population one that's relatively small?

ws in portland area

At 9:33 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

The attempt by mountain bikers to create their own trail in a city park is just the latest bit of arrogance by the bike people in SF, a subset of the arrogance and sense of entitlement that so many cyclists seem to feel. Critical Mass is another example, as is the attempt to push the ambitious Bicycle Plan through the process with no environmental review.

There is an extensive network of fire trails in nearby Marin County that mountain bikers can and do use a lot. Even there, however, they often behave boorishly, riding on hiking trails where they are prohibited, traveling at high speeds on the wider fire trails, intimidating hikers and horseback riders.

At 3:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You said it Rob! But I must take issue with one thing. You said that the bikes were intimidating hikers and horseback riders. But have you ever had to share a trail with horses?!? It’s terrible! First, they shit all over the place (ruining the water table mind you) and their hoofs tear up the root systems that keep the trail intact. Plus, some of these horseback riders choose to go wherever they please and sometimes will be seen galloping at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour! I mean, I don’t want to be run over by some punk kid wearing saggy jeans on a mountain bike either, but I think a horse would do a hell of a lot more damage!

At 10:14 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I'm thinking of the fire roads in the Marin watershed in particular, where mountain bikers have a mixed reputation in their relationship with both hikers and equestrians. Check out the links in this post for some testimony from people who ride horses in Marin.


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