Date: Sat, 15 Jul 2000
From: Terri Alvillar <Rosieres@AOL.COM>
Subject: Two kinds of biking
Dear Ms. Macris:
With due respect for your position and your experience, when lobbyists work tirelessly for two causes having diametrically opposite outcomes, what does that mean? Leaving individuals out of the argument, let us discuss bicycling habits in Marin County. Most bicycling here is recreational. Only cyclists with a passion will commute on a regular basis to work (e.g., more than a few miles each way). I used to commute to work by bicycle from San Rafael to San Francisco and, before that, from San Rafael to Novato. I know what it takes to sacrifice time away from all other responsibilities and pleasures to schedule bicycle commuting. Most people are not willing, or simply cannot, do that. How many bicycle commuters are there in Marin County? Although lobbyists are asking for millions of dollars for new bicycle facilities, only FIVE people applied for Bicycle Commuter of the Year. Most road biking in Marin County is recreational.
What about mountain biking? Hundreds of mountain bikers each WEEK drive their gas guzzling SUVs, Volvo station wagons, Toyota 4-runners, and all other types of vehicles, into Marin County to ride off-road at China Camp. This State Park is under use review and it has been suggested by one State Ranger that the Park may be already "ruined" from mountain bike use. Mountain bikers also drive to Marin to ride on Marin County Open Space District lands which were paid for by Marin County residents. These lands are also full of illegal trails and destruction from mountain biking is widespread. The MCOSD has stated they do not have the manpower or the funding to enforce the Open Space Code adequately, or close and restore illegally built trails.
Mountain bikers also drive to Marin to ride the illegally built bicycle trails at Camp Tamarancho which were all built without required permits for excavation (thousands of cubic yards of soil, always during winter months), illegal felling of protected species of trees (please seewww.crl.com/~boeschen/Bike/archives18.html) (and unprotected
Toyon trees estimated at 200 or more years old), illegal bridge building across major streams in watershed which is designated critical habitat for Central Coast Steelhead, blocking of natural drainage areas, destruction of rock outcroppings, wildflowers, and fern groves, and which trail building uses the undiluted herbicide, Roundup, as common practice. All these trails were built by the Bicycle Trails Council of Marin with no County Code enforcement and no CEQA review.
Do we turn over millions of taxpayer dollars to administrators, lobbyists, activists who say they support environmentally sound road biking and simultaneously refuse to take a public stand against the rapid and uncontrolled destruction of our natural resources from the sport of off-road mountain biking? Until the lobbyists for taxpayer on-road bike dollars acknowledge and denounce the off-road criminal activity, work to stop it, and find funding for enforcement and restoration, they will have no credibility whatsoever.