Cyclist ask for fairer accessAbout thirteen years ago, in response to a prior proposal by BTCEB to allow mountain bike access to EBRPD trails, the District created an evaluation plan called the "Bicycle Matrix." Over the years this plan morphed into the "Checklist" and despite BTCEB's continued request for wider access EBRPD has only opened a handful of trails.
Meanwhile, the District continues opening land banked areas with the same network of unsightly, sunbaked, erosive, high-maintenance, and environmentally harmful fire roads that mountain bikers find uninteresting to ride, while excluding cyclist from all trails. The District appears to be unaware or indifferent to both the environmental harm and park-visitor dissatisfaction that its current fire road network cause. With regard to the ban on mountain bike access, we know of no other Bay Area park Districts with a policy as prohibitive as the District’s.
In the summer of 2003 BTCEB proposed an experiment in which about 10 percent of the EBRPD parks' singletrack trails would be opened to cyclists on a trial basis. This was an attempt to provide empirical evidence for the Checklist planning process the District had recently implemented. We also offered alternatives such as alternate-day shared trail use. We noted the broad support our proposals had from the over 2 million cyclist that visit EBRPD each year* and emphasized that the mountain biking community is unhappy with the status quo. Unfortunately this proposal was never acted on as the District moved ahead with the Checklist process.
Cyclist are second largest user group in EBRPD
In the spring of 2003 BTCEB worked with the East Bay Area Trails Council (EBATC) to nominate two trails for consideration by the Checklist. Those two trails were Brandon Trail at Lake Chabot Regional Park and Heron Bay/Swallow Bay Trail in Lake Del Valle Regional Park. The EBRPD board finally given approval to introduce bicycle use onto those two trails in 2005.
Brandon, Heron Bay and Swallow Bay Trails
Zeile Creek TrailIn March of 2006 the board agreed to open approximately eight-tenths of a mile of the Zeile Creek Trail in Garin Regional Park. Obviously we're excited to see EBRPD open these trails. Not only does it offer new opportunities for cyclists but by providing multi use trails EBRPD will gain wider support and bring cyclists together with other park users to work for positive environmental and recreational goals.
Pine Tree Trail & Stream Trail
Unfortunately the EBRPD Board of Directors voted down our proposals to open a small section of Pine Tree Trail in Briones Regional Park and staff denied a request to open Stream Trail (in an up hill only direction) in Redwood Regional park in '07.
In the summer of 2008 the District approved opening .86 miles of Panorama Trail in Mission Peak. Unfortunately what has become an all too familiar practice "to accommodate multiple use, the District would implement minor trail improvements, including trail widening, as well as periodic routine maintenance to maintain trail width." Why have District staff, the cycling community, and EBATC work to open a narrow trails if the District is simply going to bulldoze it into a wide trail to fit their Ordinance 38 rule, banning bikes on narrow trails? Not only is this environmentally unsound, the trail is now uninteresting to cyclists who are then blamed for ruining a narrow trail because we want access. (Read the entire Checklist analysis of Panorama trail.)
What can you do?It took years of advocacy to simply get these four trails open. Please consider reminding your local director to support equal treatment of mountain biking in EBRPD.
We need to do a better job of letting EBRPD know that local cyclists deserve the same experience as other park users. It is ridiculous for the District to keep claiming cyclist are allowed on the majority of the "trails" when we're excluded from all park trails and only allowed on service and fire roads.
- If you enjoy riding on these newly open trails tell EBRPD! Write the Board of Directors and tell them how great it was to ride the trail and ask that they treat cyclists more fairly.
- Join the Volunteer Bike Patrol. We'll need extra help in patrolling trails open for the first time.
- Attend East Bay Area Trails Council (EBATC) meetings. EBATC is the officially recognized by the District as its source of public input on trail issues.
- Join the BTCEB. The more members we have, the larger our voice and the more effective we become.
- Also keep an eye out for updates on the web site and our listserv. We will have information and contacts to whom you can write to express your support.
- Attend park district meetings where mountain biking is on the agenda. E-mail Allen Pulido at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to receive agendas.
*According to the REGIONAL ECONOMIC ANALYSIS report prepared for the East Bay Regional Park District cyclist make 2.1 million annual visits, representing the second largest user group in the District. (page 12)