A spike strip constructed from rusty metal screws was recently discovered “less than a mile from the White Hill entrance to Camp Tamarancho,” one of the only bike-legal trails in Marin. As such, this booby trap was obviously aimed at mountain bikers with the intent to damage either their bikes, their persons, or both.
Not only are mountain bikers in Marin banned from almost all of the excellent singletrack trails in the region, they’re also subject to speeding fines and cops lying in wait in the woods, trail use fees on the legal trails, and now? The possibility of serious personal injury, or even death.
It seems like I’ve written about trail booby trapping a half dozen times in just the past two months, and I’m frankly about out of words to try to grapple with the apparent hatred against mountain bikers. So, here’s the post, in its entirety, that was written on the Camp Tamarancho Flow Trail’s Facebook Page:
DANGER – TRAIL TRAPS DISCOVERED IN WHITE HILL PRESERVE
“If I were to say that the mere glimpse of a hiker ruined my mountain biking experience in wild places, would that be considered sufficient grounds for outlawing hiking in Wilderness areas? Of course not. At best, it’d only be proof that I am intolerant and operating under a grandiose sense of entitlement. And yet that very ludicrous rationale is the very root of why you will never ride some of the best trails in North America.” – Vernon Felton
Wise words from Vernon Felton and sadly all the “reasons” that stand for banning bikes from Wilderness are also used in Marin to ban us from, Federal, State and County public land in non Wilderness areas.
But what is the result of this illogical form of land management, one that favors hikers and equestrians over cycling without due regard or sound reasoning?
Crippling negativity that is now so terrible it is affecting all of our safety:
Last week we found a home made “spike strip” less than a mile from the White Hill entrance to Camp Tamarancho. This homemade device could have crippled a bike or badly injured a cyclist. Are the hikers and equestrians collectively punished because someone set a trap clearly to injure a cyclist or disable their bike? Of course not.
Somehow this is perfectly logical for Marin County Parks to do to this to every law abiding cyclist. Collective punishment for a perceived problem. No new trails because someone shouts safety at a meeting? Someone complains that “one time a mountain biker was rude” and we are banned without any regard to the truth of the matter. Where is the data? How can lack of reasoning and ignorance shape public policy for public land?
Why can equestrian stables continually run commercial operations on public land without a permit (which is a misdemeanor crime BTW.) In fact the only stable that does have a permit is Arabian Adventures. This stable does not even have liability insurance and does not require that their customers wear a helmet! Lets talk about biased enforcement for a second. Why are Sheriff Deputies and rangers running around on Mt Tam at 9:30 at night on a holiday weekend? Obviously to catch cyclists, not dog walkers or hikers. Do you ever wonder why the Sheriff completely ignores a misdemeanor crime but uses ATVs, helicopters and advanced LIDAR units to threaten and harass cyclists for committing an infraction that is the equivalent of jaywalking?
Biased land managers who have slowly banned bikes from 94% of the narrow trail in Marin over the last 30 years are responsible for the negativity. In most parts of North America, even the world trail users get along. Not in Marin. Have you ever wondered why?
Poor land management is the reason plain and simple. Biased rule makers that favor one trail user over another have shaped our public spaces to encourage intolerance and hatred rather than sharing or stewardship. Land managers are now too afraid to stand up for the RTMP process. They are delaying the process that they created. In doing so land managers are handing the people who hate us and want to hurt us a wonderful gift. The gift is inaction, it is exactly what the haters want and Marin County Parks is best at. Doing nothing.
Sooner or later one of us will be badly injured by a booby trap or an intentionally placed [log] in the trail. There will be one party responsible: The land managers that through inaction, outright bias and incompetence created a public trail network of hostility and exclusion.
Stay safe out there.