Tuesday Readers' Forum

Staff Report

Article Launched: 03/19/2007 10:59:18 PM PDT


The renegade bicyclist

I was intrigued by the incident that somehow warranted a blaring front-page headline complete with photo (IJ, March 16, "Bikers: Marin agency 'booby-trapped' trail").

Dana Beckstoffer is complaining about the hazards of biking down trails "strictly forbidden" to cyclists. Isn't that comparable to burglars ranting to the authorities about the unsportsmanlike conduct of people installing security systems in their homes, possibly accompanied by a few vicious guard dogs to thwart their nocturnal forays?

I think the least the rangers should do is accommodate her with the citation she "requested," since she is a self-confessed law-breaker.

Ted Jacobson, Larkspur

'Two-wheeled termites'

Ron Acker's attempt to defend the idea that Mount Tam's single-track trails (Saturday Soapbox, "Marin trails should be open to everyone:) should be open to the swarm of two-wheeled termites that have chewed up virtually every trail, no matter how steep or unstable, is right about only one thing: The mountain bikers who persist in violating rules that exist to protect watershed resources and public safety are not all "young punks."

They are, however, almost without exception, arrogant, and to the extent that they persist in ignoring rules that exist to protect precious natural resources and public safety, immature.

Acker's attitude seems to be: "I have a bike and I like to go fast on steep, narrow trails, so either screw the rules or change the rules, but get out of my way and catch me if you can."

Dana Beckstoffer, who complained about placement of barriers on illegal trails on Marin Open Space lands (IJ article, March 16, "Bikers: Marin agency 'booby-trapped' trail"), seems to have a similar attitude: If I'm caught abusing the land, I'll pay a ticket, but let someone else repair the damage that I've done.

The serious damage that has been done to numerous single-track trails, such as Kent, Northside, Nora, Collier, Vic Haun, East Peak Fire Trail, Lagunitas Fire Trail, High Marsh, Rock Spring, Lagoon Extension, Nall and even closed Casey Cutoff, is obvious, although perhaps not to a thrill-seeker whizzing along at high speed. As for "anecdotal trail encounters," I personally can add to the database numerous unpleasant experiences in which I have been pushed, shoved, mooned (I have pictures) and even punched by cyclists illegally using single-track trails.

The Marin Municipal Water District watershed has many miles of scenic, challenging fire roads where mountain bikes are entirely appropriate. I long have urged MMWD to build a low-level, bike-legal trail around Kent Lake to take some of the pressure off the district's single-track trails where bikes really can't be allowed without creating serious erosion and/or safety problems. Simply throwing Mount Tam's trails open to unlimited bicycle use would be a disaster.

George Forman, San Rafael

Stay off illegal trails

The Split Rock trail near Fairfax was built illegally. Hikers as well as mountain bikers are supposed to stay off the trail.

Mountain bikers have a history of riding where they are prohibited from riding, for building illegal trails and for destroying barriers erected to keep them out of sensitive natural areas. I wouldn't be surprised if the metal fence posts were bent by mountain bikers themselves trying to destroy the trail access barrier.

Why do mountain bikers feel they deserve benefits the general population is denied?

Contrary to Ron Acker's opinion (Saturday Soapbox, "Marin trails should be open to everyone"), mountain bikers have equal access to all trails hikers have; they just have to leave their vehicles home just as the hikers do.

Terri Alvillar, Occidental

'Am I missing something?'

I am writing in response to the comment by Dana Beckstoffer of Petaluma and I am sad to read that she is a mother. Her comment "We don't mind paying a ticketÉ " is precisely what's wrong with today's youth (and unfortunately many who call themselves adults). Let's just buy our way out. What part of the word "illegal" do these people not understand?

I too do not wish anyone physical harm, but let's get real. If we are living in a society that promotes the breaking of laws by those fortunate enough to "buy" their way out, then exactly what does Beckstoffer think the solution is? Are the trails of Marin (and Sonoma) only for the enjoyment of the "rich?"

Am I missing something?

Leslie Blumenthal, Corte Madera