Date: Fri, 1 Nov 2002 09:08:14 EST

Subject: Knobbies and Nags

Dear Editor:

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.


Terri Alvillar