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August, 2003

Mountain Bikers Want Full Access To Mt. Burdell
By Terri Alvillar


Mountain bikers again are demanding access to footpaths and horse trails, this time on Novato's Mt. Burdell trails, Dwarf Oaks, Simmons, Brookside, and Michako. Currently, bikes are allowed on 75% of Mt. Burdell's trail system. The proposal was introduced to the Marin County Open Space Trails Committee by its mountain biking representative, Al Baumann. Baumann replaced Michael More who resigned after being caught building illegal mountain bike trails on federal land. On August 1, 2001, More and two others, William McBride and Neal Daskal pleaded guilty to destruction of federal property and were sentenced.

In a scenario which has become tradition, mountain bikers lobby County officials and staff to propose allowing bikes on narrow paths. The reason for this is simple: mountain bikers prefer narrow, technical, challenging trails to wide ones. Then the proposal appears on a County agenda. Only members of the public who follow this issue are aware of the agenda item so very few attend the hearing. Neighbors of lands proposed for this use rarely find out about the proposal until the process is well along. Glowing reports are given about how there have been no reported problems between mountain bikers and horses or hikers. And then the neighbors find out! Residents turn out by the dozens to complain of illegal mountain bike riding, damage to trails and nature, and frightening experiences of collisions or near-misses. Then mountain bikers cry "discrimination!"

A public hearing on this proposal will be taken on August 27, 2003. Meeting time and place changes, so contact the Marin County Open Space District for details (415-499-6387).

 

 

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