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Theme: Long Hikes for Long Summer Days

A 20-Mile Hike through the South Skyline Region

Skyline to Sea

A Mid-Summer Experience

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Access to the Popular Stanford "Dish" Area Restricted Under Conservation Plan

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District to Limit Bicycle Access

Take a Volunteer Vacation this Summer

Book Review: Handbook for Forest and Ranch Roads

Pat Oren's Secret Trail Work Motivator - Revealed!

Wild Lit

Note from the Literary Editor

Meeting with Pan at Midnight - Rachel Oliver

Apogee - Brian Kunde


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Along the Trail: Member and Volunteer Notes

The Trail Companion

Summer 2000

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District to Limit Bicycle Access

The MROSD Board of Directors voted unanimously to close seven preserves to bike use, beginning in September, despite great opposition from the mountain biking community. The new policy will close Foothills, La Honda Creek, Los Trancos, Picchetti Ranch, Pulgas Ridge, Teague Hill, and Thornewood Open Space Preserves, with a total of 13.6 miles of trail currently open to bicycles. In addition, the new policy would aim toward a long-range ratio of 60-65% multi-use -- including bicycles (down from roughly 78%) and 35-40% hiking or hiking/equestrian use only. This goal could be met by closing new preserves to bicycle use, at least during a lengthy planning process.
      Beginning in 1996, Director Nanette Hanko urged the Board to increase the number of trails limited to hikers only on behalf of her constituents, who complained of feeling unsafe in many of the preserves. Currently, the only major network of trails closed to bicycles are located in Rancho San Antonio Open Space Preserve above Deer Hollow Farm; while a number of other trails are also closed, they are scattered throughout the District's preserves. MROSD cites numerous letters describing hikers forced off trails by speeding bicycles, startled horses, and near misses. At the same time, they have received many letters from bicyclists urging greater access.
      An Ad Hoc Committee met in March to discuss the proposed policy in a public meeting, with members of ROMP (Responsible Organized Mountain Pedalers) and others in the bicycle community attending in great numbers. When members of the bicycle community questioned the Committee about the numbers of incidents and the need for trail closure, Committee members admitted they had limited solid data on bicycle/hiker/equestrian conflicts or even bicycle use in the preserves, but were relying on the letters and anecdotal evidence.
      ROMP has noted that when bicyclists followed the rules and were courteous to other trail users, other users generally supported bicyclists sharing the trails, including a number of non-bicyclists attending the meeting. The problems have come about in large part because of the relatively small number of bicyclists who do speed and ignore the concerns of other trail users.
      While most of the seven preserves have fairly light bicycle use at present and most of La Honda Creek is open to very limited public use (with the lower portion completely closed), bicyclists particularly objected to closure of Los Trancos Preserve, which provides a parallel off-road route for two miles of the busy Page Mill Road , and the possibility that bicycles would be excluded from the Bay Area Ridge Trail where it passes through District lands. In addition, they fear new preserves will remain completely off-limits to bicycles. Although the policy states that regional connections will be considered, new trails will not necessarily be opened to bicycles if the particular preserve is otherwise closed.
      MROSD argues that actual usage of Los Trancos as an alternate route has been quite low and that the only accidents along that stretch of Page Mill during the study time have been solo accidents in which a bicyclist lost control. Furthermore, they argue that Alpine Road already provides bicycle access to the South Skyline preserves and serves as a regional connector.
      A number of compromises to the policy were proposed, including increased bicycle patrols, but the Committee voted to recommend the new policy to the full Board essentially unchanged. The only possible compromise that the Committee did recommend at the bicycle community's urging - grudgingly - was to include the option of allowing weekday bicycle access in the seven preserves, while designating them as hiker- and equestrian-only on weekends.
      The Board, however, rejected the compromise (deemed unworkable by staff due to difficulty in enforcing partial closure without greatly increasing patrols), and approved the policy as written at their July 12th meeting, with one amendment to possibly add some bicycle-only trails. ROMP and others had hoped to influence the Board's vote, but with the unanimous preliminary vote, change was unlikely.
      The approved proposal and background information is available on the MROSD website.

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