May 18, 2007


Re: Mountain Bike Racing 5/20/07 at Boggs Mountain Demonstration Forest:


Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814


Dear Governor Schwarzenegger:


     I am very concerned about the environmental damage done by mountain biking in California. In particular, I am concerned that: (1) The State of California's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has given a permit for mountain bike racing (by high school kids) at Boggs Mountain Demonstration Forest. (2) They did so in violation of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA): without doing the environmental analysis that is required prior to allowing any activity that may harm the environment. (3) The office of the Director of the Forestry Department (apparently due to my phone call) said that they were filing an "exemption" under CEQA; but recreation such as mountain bike racing is not exempt from CEQA. (4) Mountain biking is very harmful to wildlife and the environment (for details, see (5) Mountain bike racing is especially harmful. (6) Mountain biking, especially mountain bike racing, is also harmful to people. It frequently results in serious injury or even death. (7) Our schools are supposed to be producing good citizens, which includes teaching them environmental ethics; mountain biking teaches them the opposite: it teaches them that the rough treatment of nature is acceptable; allowing or encouraging high school kids to engage in mountain bike racing not only harms the kids, but it provides very bad role modeling for them. (8) The supervisor of the Forest, Wayne Connor, told me this morning that "mountain biking doesn't cause erosion, because there's no water here". That mountain biking doesn't cause erosion, and that it never rains at Boggs Mountain, were news to me! In other words, he just lied to me. He also told me that the race is not a "project" under CEQA. When I quoted the law to him (see below), which states that giving a permit to the activity makes it a project, he continued to lie about it.


     Please ensure that mountain bike racing is no longer permitted on public lands in California, and that state agencies obey the law, including CEQA. At present, the Forestry Department can't be trusted to do that.


Sincerely yours,



Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.

" 21065. Project
 "Project" means an activity which may cause either a direct
physical change in the environment, or a reasonably foreseeable
indirect physical change in the environment, and which is any of the
(a) An activity directly undertaken by any public agency.
(b) An activity undertaken by a person which is supported, in
whole or in part, through contracts, grants, subsidies, loans, or
other forms of assistance from one or more public agencies.
(c) An activity that involves the issuance to a person of a lease,
permit, license, certificate, or other entitlement for use by one or
more public agencies."

If people want to engage in an environmentally destructive activity, they should do it on their own property -- if it's even allowed THERE!


"07/11/05 WASHINGTON This afternoon, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (N.C.-5) introduced a resolution to create 'National Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day', in order to motivate young people to be physically active and fit."

503 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representative Foxx:

I know you mean well, but your resolution makes no sense:

1. Bicycles are LABOR-SAVING DEVICES! They were designed NOT for getting exercise, but SAVING ENERGY. And they DO! A decades-old Scientific American article stated that the bicycle is the most efficient form of transportation in the world, surpassing walking and all other means of transportation. Bicycles only increase exercise when they replace motor vehicle use, which is NOT the case for young children!

2. Mountain biking is a very expensive hobby, and thus not appropriate for the young children you are targeting.

3. Mountain biking is a very dangerous sport, regularly resulting in serious injury and even DEATH, and thus not appropriate for the young children you are targeting!

4. Mountain biking is one of the most destructive activities allowed in any park. It accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, widens trails, kills small animals and plants on and next to the trail, and drives wildlife away from the resources they need and out of the parks. Please don't sacrifice wildlife, in the name of physical fitness. It isn't necessary, since there are many other forms of exercise that are not as destructive of the natural world, such as walking and hiking. For the science on the impacts of mountain biking, see

5. Every round trip has an equal amount of uphill and downhill. Riding a bicycle downhill provides essentially ZERO exercise -- less than walking. Riding a bicycle on level ground provides minimal exercise -- less than walking. Permitting bikes on trails drives other trail users off the trails, because hiking around bicycles is dangerous and very unpleasant. One has to be constantly on guard to be ready to jump off the trail to avoid getting hit by speeding bikers. Continual bell-ringing or shouts of "on your left", forcing you off of the trail (even though hikers are supposed to have the right-of-way!) destroy any enjoyment you might otherwise gain from being in nature. When you force hikers off the trails, you end up with NO NET HEALTH BENEFIT!

This initiative is the mountain bikers' way of trying to improve the image of their extremely destructive sport, by pretending to benefit children (and who doesn't want to help children?). Please don't fall for their propaganda.

Sincerely yours,

Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.