To the editor:
Mountain bikers would love us to believe that the conflicts between them and other proups are simply a matter of failure to "get along" -- in other words, that there are no substantive issues. In fact, the conflict has very little to do with "getting along" with each other, i.e., manners. Because if you remove the BICYCLES, we have no problem sharing trails with mountain bikers. They are no different from anybody else.
The problem is the bicycles themselves. Bikes, especially with knobby tires, greatly accelerate erosion, killing any plants and animals that happen to be on or under the trail. The tires create V-shaped grooves that are difficult and dangerous to walk on. The presence of bikes ruins the experience of real, un-artificial nature that most of us are seeking. The bikes force everyone to watch out for their safety, when they would prefer to enjoy nature, peace, and quiet. And, more subtle, but probably more important in the long run, bikes make it much easier for more people to get into wildlife habitat, driving out the wildlife. Bikers advertize their rides as being from 15 to 60 miles long -- FAR farther than a hiker normally travels. That represents a lot of disturbed wildlife habitat!
In the San Francisco Bay Area, mountain bikers have driven hikers, especially older hikers and children, off of the trails in many parks, which have turned into velodromes for bikers.
Bikes should be restricted to paved roads, as is the rule in Yosemite National Park. Without these large pieces of machinery on our trails, we can all enjoy the trails on an equal footing. And there will be no problem "getting along"!