Sadly, as I came home from my Saturday (January 13) run, I had to notify the

rangers at the Marin Municipal Water District that mountain bikers had once

more started to bypass the fire road gate at Deer Park School in Fairfax.

This was especially galling because the MMWD had just installed an

attractive "walk-through" gate at the end of last year to complement the

"step-over" gate flanking the main gate. MMWD had also removed the

barricades that were installed to eliminate the last mountain biker attempt

to bypass the gate: an ugly rut in the soft creek bank with branches and

bushes ripped out. All of this work by the MMWD costs money- your money and

my money.

This is just the latest attack by mountain bikers in their war of more than

five years to not follow the simple rule of walking their bikes at Deer Park

School. Mountain bikers have vandalized the gate itself (There is now a

metal pipe welded to the step-over gate to deter further incidents), they

have destroyed the sign at the north end of the school, they have bypassed

the gate several times, they have forced the installation of a fence around

the playground area so the day-care children don't get run over, and

repeatedly shown complete disregard for the safety of the children in the

school by speeding past the classrooms. A few years ago, a mountain bike

instructor was giving lessons on the playground, teaching bikers how to jump

their bikes and get airborne! Great, no brakes and no steering while in the

air! Perfect behavior for public trails!

Every time mountain bikers bypass a fence or a gate, go skidding down a

trail, or ride up the embankment of a fire road or trail for a litte extra

thrill, your dollars and my dollars are diverted from legitimate

environmental work and trail maintenance. As a volunteer trail worker for

MMWD, that really irks me.

I'm sure someone will claim that all user groups have their share of "bad

apples". Really? How many hikers have come flying around a blind corner

at 20 mph straight at you? How many equestrians have you seen at night with

absurdly bright lights riding illegally on the trails? How many runners tear

out erosion control devices like mountain bikers did at the Shadyside Trail

at the Bon Tempe Lake spillway six weeks ago leaving tire tracks in their

wake? Who else but mountain bikers routinely vandalize signs they don't

like? Who else carves out miles of illegal trails throughout our park,

watershed and open space lands? Yet, we still read statements, like those

from recent letter writer Abby Cunningham, that mountain bikers are

environmentalists! If they were, shouldn't they be snitching to the

authorities or offering to repair the damage? Hah!

All public land managers have had to beef up enforcement to deal with

mountain bikers and their inherent (mis)behavior. Again, your dollars and my

dollars being spent for someone else's thrills. Do we really want to try to

enjoy a wilderness where worrying about another user's behavior becomes a

problem? Where you always have to look over your shoulder or peek around a

corner to make sure your kids are safe from some speeding mountain biker?


After all this, do mountain bike leaders ever apologize for the major

problems their activity causes? Do they ever publicly demand even the most

minimal civil behavior from bikers? No, they demand more access and whine

that they are being treated like second-class citizens (A true insult to

Jews, blacks, etc who have actually been treated that way). Anyone who has

ever encountered a biker at 25 mph on a trail knows what being treated badly

means. Bikers should be thankful that, for the time being , they are the

only vehicles allowed on many of our public lands. Soon, if they are rightly

classified as vehicles, they will be restricted to "jeep" roads and the



Then, we will once again be able to enjoy our trails without feeling like

we are hiking down a main traffic route!


Carlo V. Gardin