Forest Saved from Speeding Mountain Biker OR My Encounter with the LAW

Picture this - you are on your mountain bike in the zone, cruising on well worn single track in the Saratoga woods.  You are riding high on every turn, making it over every root, missing the poison oak and you are feeling that thrill of "being the trail" as you head downhill when all of the sudden - its the Forestry Service with a RADAR GUN at the bottom of trail ahead measuring your speed with mal-intent.  2 big, overweight guys on a Sunday morning looking to generate revenue to offset the fact that they don't charge entrance fees for this wooded area on the coast!   What do you do? You can't turn off, you can't stop, you can't fight (they out-mass you by 2:1).  So you go thru and either get the nod (your not speeding) or you get the hand (and a ticket).  The speed limit in this section of the forest (part of it is open land and part of it is state forest) is 15 mph which in mountain bike lingo means "don't even think of having fun here"!  Fortunately, we had been warned by the mountain bike network that they were issuing tickets that day so we slowed down in this one area (the forestry service hangs out in the exact same place because it is the one area they can drive to the trail) and we did not get ticketed.   The guys behind us were going 20 mph and were not so lucky :(

My point is... WHY?  In this area we have never seen any hikers, walkers, wheel chairs or anything else except mountain bikers so what is the purpose of the tickets?  Is it to generate revenue by punishing users of the trail?  I am thrilled my tax dollars are providing full employment for the Forestry service, but isn't there something better they can do like:  herd banana slugs, clean benches, sell beer for thirsty mountain bikers?  This is like a Monty Python episode gone bad - the Spanish Inquisition being replaced by the Forestry service and making all of us think much less of the officers in brown than we did before.  Too bad for the Forestry service as I am sure we'll question their next request for more funding rather than thanking them for making the forest a safer place by ticketing mountain bikers. 


Have you ever been hit by a mountain bike while hiking a trail? Just because you haven't seen them doesn't mean that they aren't users of the trails. In many areas hikers are often discouraged from using trails on weekends that have lots of mountain bikers because of the danger of conflicts with them. Maybe the reason you don't see any hikers is that they have been scared off from using the trails because of fear of getting run over by some out of control biker. I am not crazy about the forest service tactics here but then maybe if the bikers were doing what was right rather than whining about it they wouldn't need to be out there. My bet is that there is a fair number of complaints from hiker/biker conflicts that is causing them to be out there. Collecting fines is unlikely to have much impact on the local budget since in most cases these are added into local general funds.

Posted by VHF on July 16, 2007 at 04:31 AM PDT #

I appreciate what the USFS is doing to make the multi-use trails safer. A few years ago me and some others had to help a senior citizen off a trail after speeding bikes locked down brakes to try and stop but slid right into the person. Biker fled the scene, the senior citizen was carried to the emergency room for stitches. I'm all for the total ban of everything, except foot traffic, on USFS trails. No multi-use trails should be allowed. Put the bicycles with the OHV's and horses on a separate trail somewhere.

Posted by Pat Smith on July 16, 2007 at 11:19 AM PDT #

Some signage and warnings would likely have done more than 2 officers and tickets. Who uses a speedometer on a mountain bike??? Maybe we need bar mounted radar dectors. Bikers need to control thier speed if they don't have a clear view of what is in front of them. Banning bikers Separate trails for different users Both bad ideas Educating users good idea

Posted by BC on July 16, 2007 at 09:53 PM PDT #

As someone whom likes to go mountain bike riding once in a while - it is great fun. If you ban other users from the trails likely you won't have the trails at all. Want to limit your support base for the next expansion or budget for new trail resources, then alienate a critical user base be it hikers or bikers. But there needs to be education of all users and maybe working on some management plans to limit conflicts. Such as odd/even days for some trails and limiting speed in some areas and finding some areas for the gonzo riders to go - not everybody has the time or money to go to a ski area. My disappointment is that the lug heads are going to ruin it for both hikers and bikers.

Posted by VHF on July 17, 2007 at 04:25 AM PDT #

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