Date: Sat, 17 Jun 2000


June 17, 2000

To: Letters to the Editor

The Cupertino Courier

From: Terri Alvillar

Re: Trail Access -

Dear Editor:

An important ingredient was omitted from Paul Nam's June 16 discussion of why

off-road bicyclists "should share all trail access." Shared use trail

experiences throughout the world provide evidence that when bicycles are

permitted on hiking trails, hikers and equestrians go elsewhere. Thus,

shared use trails become de facto bicycle-only trails, contradicting the

assertion that "Closing trails to mountain bikes will force more and more

riders on to less and less trails." In reality, it is the equestrians and

hikers who are forced onto fewer and fewer trails.

In his 1996 report (p. 31), Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

researcher, Alan W. Bjorkman, stated "Increased traffic on high-use trails

will result in hiker displacement...The result is that more than 80% of

repeat hikers report avoiding a bike trail." In a Utah study (Ramthun 1992)

only 6.6% of bikers actually yielded the trail to an encountered hiker. This

figure corresponds to my personal experience.

Is there any public agency that does not have a problem with mountain bikers

building illegal "single track" trails? The thrill of biking on a technical

narrow trail is not satisfied by riding the same trail repeatedly, unless the

rider's personal speed record can be beaten. New trails with different

obstacles and increasing levels of challenges must be built continually to

satisfy the adrenaline rush addiction. Mountain bikers already are

"naturally dispersed over wide areas," because they ride wherever they want

to ride.

There are many sound reasons to ban bikes from certain areas. For safety

reasons, shared use trails which allow bicycles are usually required to be

8'-12' in width. Mr. Nam was correct in stating that many parks are

"foremost preserves of priceless wildlife habitat." Nature, and not "nature

as challenge," should be every land manager's primary concern.


Terri Alvillar