Date: Wed, 2 Oct 2002 20:35:03 EDT

Subject: mountain bikers v. conservationists


October 2, 2002

Attn: Washington Post/Letters to the Editor

Re: Mountain Bikers Up Against Calif. Conservationists

Battle Is Sign of Conflict Across the West Over Recreation Rules on Crowded

Land, By a Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, October 2, 2002

Dear Editor:

Officials of the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA)

continue to use the same flawed arguments which lost them their 1996 lawsuit

against the National Park Service (NPS). Mountain bikers argued that the NPS

"failed to give adequate consideration to the quality of the mountain

bicycling experience in that several "single-track" and "loop" trails were

closed to bicycles and that no concern was given the need to accommodate the

most skilled bicyclists by providing them steep and difficult trails." That

argument failed because the governing law did not "require that recreational

opportunities be provided in complete derogation of any other interests,"

primarily, visitor safety and resource protection. (Bicycle Trails Council of

Marin v. Babbitt, 82 F.3d 1445, 1452 [9th Cir. 1996])

Mountain bikers further argued that NPS "lacked sufficient evidence upon

which it could find that prohibiting bicycle use of certain trails would

reduce user conflict and enhance visitor safety." This argument also failed

because "Ample evidence in the administrative record supports the finding by

NPS that bicycle access to all trails increases incidents of user conflict

and compromises visitor safety. The record includes hundreds of letters from

park users recounting stories of collisions or near misses with speeding or

reckless bicyclists on all kinds of trails...they seemed to appear out of

nowhere...Equestrians told how their horses have been startled by speeding or

oncoming bicycles...even throwing and injuring experienced riders...other

users also repeatedly recounted incidents of rudeness, threats and

altercations when they have complained to an offending bicyclist about

dangerous conduct." The Court confirmed that the NPS finding, "user

conflict and visitor danger would be reduced by limiting bicycle trail access

in GGNRA," was supported by "ample evidence."

A third argument presented by the bicyclists was "that the closing of

trails might force bicyclists to ride in other areas" or "that the

regulations would somehow force off-road bicyclists to trespass on the

property of adjoining landowners." The Court found this argument to be

"unavailing" because "riding in any other nondeveloped areas is also

forbidden" and "the agency (NPS) should no more assume that citizens will

violate any other law than that they will not violate the regulation being

promulgated." All of plaintiffs' challenges to the NPS regulation failed

and the Court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment.

Some of the very same plaintiffs have since been caught building illegal

mountain bike trails on public land and private lands. Some have been

convicted in federal court. IMBA has openly sponsored some of this illegal

trail building. One mountain bike leader was convicted of vandalizing my

home last year. He objected that I wrote about illegal mountain bike trail

building. The day I begin believing what mountain bike leaders say will be

the day humans and horses are born with wheels instead of feet and hooves.


Therese F. Alvillar