Date: Sun, 25 Feb 2001 01:59:26 -0800

From: Mary Feller <>

Subject: Important Open Space meeting!

The regular meeting of the Open Space and Trails Committee is scheduled

for this Wed. (28th of February) at 10 a.m. at the Hospitality Room at the Marin Center Exhibit Hall (reached at the end of Avenue of the Flags, Civic

Auditorium complex)

At issue is the subject of trails standards. This may sound boring but it's a very important meeting and has big implications for the entire county. The Bicycle Trails Council (BTC) is ONCE AGAIN pushing for another narrow trail - the kind of trail that only serves a small group of downhill cyclists.

This email is way too long but bear with me. There's a LOT of news.

Just to be clear: I am not opposed to mountain biking. It's a great sport and a great way to see the back country of Marin. What I have a problem with is the illegal trail building, the illegal riding and the repeated attempts by a small group of mountain bikers to fundamentally change the way Open Space is used in this County.

Once again, at the upcoming meeting of the Open Space Trails Committee, the BTC (Bicycle Trails Council) is asking the County to build another three foot so-called "multi-use" trail just like the one they proposed for San Pedro Ridge but this time in Lucas Valley. This is utter nonsense. A three foot trail cannot safely accommodate all users. This trail, by attrition, will become a mountain bike trail. The BTC desperately wants the LucasFilm trail to be a narrow single-track tail, 3 ft. wide. It will set a precedent of officially allowing bicycles on dangerously narrow trails.

A few day ago, the North San Rafael Coalition of Residents (NSRCR), of which the Santa Venetia Neighborhood Assoc. is a member, sent a strong letter to Supervisor Kress and Open Space, protesting the BTC attempt to undo trail standards for their own purposes. The NSRCR says the BTC proposal violates the guidelines set out in the Countywide Plan - guidelines that were put in place through extensive public hearings.

The NSRCR also expressed their dismay at once again having to write letters and to attend meetings over this issue when it was already addressed last year during the San Pedro Ridge debacle. The NSRCR stated "it is exhausting and annoying for our community to repeatedly revisit this issue and beat back attempts to install trails which are unsafe for multi-use and benefit only downhill mountain bikers." They have asked the County to refuse to consider any more proposals for narrow, multi-use trails.

What's really behind this proposal is this: hundreds of miles of fire roads and other trails in Marin are already open to mountain biking but the BTC is not satisfied. They are demanding very narrow trails that accommodate, for the most part, the more extreme downhill mountain bikers. Plain and simple, they want County Open Space opened for this purpose. I got heavily criticized when I said that a certain group of mountain bikers were looking for a thrill at the expense of our open space. I'm sticking to my guns on this one. Marin County Open Space is not a recreational playground for extreme downhill biking.

County Open Space was established for preservation and for the benefit of the immediate neighborhoods. Hiking and other types of use are actually secondary to the stated purpose of Open Space. Preservation is very different from recreation. But because Marin gets 7.1 million (!) tourists a year now, there's a huge influx of mountain bikers into our neighborhoods. The mountain bike industry has also stated publicly that "more trails equal more sales" so there is a big push by corporate interests to build more trails for mountain bikes, even if it violates the stated mission of Marin County Open Space.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about. Keep in mind that the Wilderness Trail Bikes mentioned below is owned by Pat Seidler who, in his capacity as President of TAM (Transportation Alternatives Marin) sponsored Supervisor Kress' trip to Holland. In the following excerpt the extreme mountain bikers actually talk about riding in Marin with NO BRAKES. You can find the entire article on

"The quest for the trail. Not some wide, rolling leisure cruise, as fun as that may be, but the quest for the truly sick, steep, root-filled, drop-off blessed, hairpin curved and hairball singletrack. This is what downhillers want, this is what they need and crave. Daily thoughts for Pro Mountain biker Mark Weir and his crew at Wilderness Trail Bikes that push daily to tone, tweak and improve their downhilling capabilities......... Mark rides and works for Wilderness Trail Bikes, a frame and component manufacturer based in Marin, Mark's local stomping grounds........A passion for downhill creates the first hurdle. Where does one find killer terrain, with an abundance of varying challenges, that isn't a fire road, like the majority of Marins' trail system? Enter the solution, a technically geared, lethal monster trail, harder than hell from top to bottom........Sections with names like 'Broken Arm' and 'Metal Scrap taunt Mark and his Bro's daily as they run them again and again, hunting a faster and cleaner line. 'No brakes is the key,' says Mark"

So, you can see THIS is exactly what I'm talking about - corporate bicycling interests turning our open space into a playground for downhill mountain bikers.

Our neighborhood needs to keep up the pressure on the County. Come to the Trails Committee meeting on Wednesday!

Please write a brief email and tell all the Supervisors that we're tired of these three foot so-called multi-use proposals. Tell them that a three foot multi-use trail violates the Countywide Plan and is unacceptable anywhere in Marin. email:,,,,

Also email Fran Brigmann, General Manager, Marin County Open Space District, ( and Ron Miska, Open Space Planner (

Try to come to the Open Space meeting on Wednesday, February 28, at 10:00 a.m. Every person counts. The bicyclists have been packing the meetings lately so your participation is critical.

Here's some other important news:

Many of you appeared last June before the Open Space Trails Committee to protest a proposed trail through our ridge preserve. At that time, many of you expressed concern about illegal trails and illegal riding, traffic problems caused by the influx of mountain bikers, and a number of other issues.

Well, since that time, illegal mountain biking on our ridge has actually INCREASED. We are now seeing weekly night rides, illegal riding through extremely sensitive riparian habitat and, just a few weeks ago, a group of bikers even built illegal jumps on our open space. There is also another HUGE, very long trail that runs through private land, just off Bayview.

As you have probably read, Michael More, a director of the Bicycle Trails Council who represents bikers on the Open Space Trails Committee, was just arrested for allegedly building a huge four mile illegal mountain bike trail that crossed GGNRA, State and MMWD land. A Director of the The International Mountain Biking Association, a group closely affiliated with the mountain bike industry, wrote that More's act was a form of non-violent protest and compared More to "Gandhi."

More was vehemently opposed to stronger enforcement and higher fines for illegal behavior on trails and stated that "education" was the answer. More and the BTC are supposed to be promoting responsible biking. It's shocking that board members of this organization are allegedly building illegal trails at the same time they were sitting on County committees and complaining of being "criminalized."

The County of Marin and our own Supervisor have been utterly silent about the arrest. The only public statement came from a Marin County Open Space official who said that More was "good to work with." Can you say: "wrong signal" to the problem of illegal trails and illegal riding!?

Pat Seidler, owner of the above mentioned Wilderness Mountain Bikes, sponsored a video called "Superheroes" which celebrates extreme mountain bikers riding illegally in Marin. Mr. Seidler, as President of TAM, hosted Supervisor John Kress' and Supervisor Steve Kinsey's trip to Holland to look at bicycle transportation there.

Clips of the "Superheroes" video, as well as photos of the illegal jumps built on San Pedro Ridge, can be viewed on This site will give you a great overview of the problem of illegal mountain biking. The site was created by John Perulis as a public service to our neighborhood.

A few months ago Outside Magazine published a feature on the world champion downhill mountain biker who lives in West Marin. The reporter observed her building an illegal trail for herself somewhere in Marin. Here is the url for that article.

At the last Trails Committee meeting, dozens of mountain bikers appeared and spent an hour and a half screaming at the committee over the issue of increased enforcement and fines (even though the subject wasn't on the agenda) and complained bitterly about how they are being "criminalized." One woman came to the meeting because she had been told that the committee was going to close Open Space Preserves to mountain bikers!! (Completely untrue!) One mountain biker told of visiting Auschwitz and reading the inscriptions on the walls describing the terrible hardships of the Jews. He said "if you substitute the words "mountain bikers" for the word 'Jews' you would have the same thing we're facing."

The only thing we can do to combat this craziness is to continue to show up at these meetings in big numbers and continue to ask for what is perfectly reasonable: trails widths that comply with the standards set out by the countywide plan, a crackdown on illegal riding and trail building, and preservation of our Open Space as clearly defined in the Open Space mission statement.

Keep up the good fight - and PLEASE, if you possibly can, attend the Trails Committee meeting this coming Wednesday.


Mary Feller