Date: Fri, 1 Nov 2002 09:08:14 EST
Subject: Knobbies and Nags
I am an equestrienne, a bicyclist, and a hiker. It would be nice if the real
trail experience were as uneventful as a staged event between mountain bikers
and equestrians. You can be sure biking participants in Knobbies and Nags
will be on their best behavior. In a staged event, everyone wants it to
work. The encounter is carefully orchestrated so the horses won't be
frightened or injured. The speed of movement is controlled over a period of
A real horse/bike encounter on the trail lasts only seconds. Usually the
bike is traveling at a far greater speed. In Marin County, California, the
"birthplace" of mountain biking large numbers off equestrians have chosen to
abandon trails used by bikes because it is so dangerous. Recently in Point
Reyes a horse was frightened off a fire road by four mountain bikers. The
horse fell 600' downhill, was badly injured, and had to be destroyed. The
same thing happened on a Los Angeles trail recently, with the same result.
Land managers and the federal courts realize that placing horses, hikers, and
bikers on the same trail, unless it is very wide, is unsafe (Bicycle Trails
Council of Marin v. Babbitt, 82 F.3d 1445, 1452 [9th Cir. 1996]).
Unfortunately, it is the narrow trails to which Mark Flint's organization
most often seeks access. More and more hikers and equestrians are being
forced off trails because mountain bicyclists often create unsafe conditions
and unpleasant trail experiences.