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L.A.'s ban on cyclists on trails generates controversy

Los Angeles prohibits bicycling of any kind on trails designated for hikers and equestrians. Despite mountain bikers' efforts over the years to win access to dirt trails in Griffith Park and other open spaces, the ban has remained in effect — except for Mandeville Canyon Park, where cyclists do share trails.

Other major cities such as Philadelphia, New York and Phoenix have figured out how to let hikers, equestrians and cyclists coexist on the dirt. But Los Angeles officials and planners have all but sidestepped action on the issue in a comprehensive update of the city's 2010 bicycle plan that was approved in December by the Planning Commission.

The update will be reviewed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office before City Council consideration early this year. It calls on the city's Department of Recreation and Parks to study the best practices in other locales and collect data. That marks some backpedaling from earlier bicycle plans that recommended pilot programs for mountain bikes on city trails. No such programs were implemented.

Read the full story here.


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Comments () | Archives (8)

Bikes AND horses are by FAR the hardest on the trails, and I WOULD love to see them BOTH permanenlty banned from the hiking trails throughtout LA.
Neither is EVER under complete control of what it is they are riding.

This short article seems to imply that it's a mistake NOT to allow mountain bikers to "share" horse trails. It's cavalierly stated that "Philadelphia, New York and Phoenix" have allowed the bridle paths to be shared, but NO further mention of how that works, or whether "cyclists" in those cities are the downhill-racing, extreme sport mountain variety that is seeking to careen down the hillsides of Griffith Park.

There are only a few trails in Los Angeles for horses left, and many hundreds of horseowners who depend upon them. Most people in L.A. aren't aware of the many horses stalled in Burbank, Glendale and Hollywood(Beachwood Canyon) that have only the trails of Griffith Park to ride on, but they're there and the trails are in use every single day. There is no way to share the narrow, cliffside trails in the park with mountain bikers at all--it would be totally unsafe.

And bikers can much more easily transport their bikes to the many places where they can already ride. The same is obviously not true for horses. I've owned a horse that I board in Burbank for 14 years--I don't own a horse property and I don't own a truck and trailer-when I move my horse, I have to hire a horse transport of trailer and driver at great expense, so I virtually never do it. All we have is the trails of griffith park.

I was recently in NYC. I didn't notice that the bridle trails and walkways of Central Park were shared with mountain bikes either. That's because it's a bad-and unnecessary-idea.

Here in the Pasadena area, we have many trails. Some, like Lower Sam Merril are known to be very hiker heavy. While others, like El Prieto single track (rip) are locally known as mountain bike downhill runs. I try to stick to well known biking trails, while warning the naive hiker of what they can expect to encounter.

On the wider trails, I try to slow down or pull as far to the other side as possible to make the hikers feel comfortable; however, going "slow" is a matter of opinion... and as an ex-semi-pro downhiller, my definition of slow does not always mesh with those I pass. I usually wave and say hello, so the hiker knows that even though I'm hauling, I'm still in control.

A little tolerance on both sides is in order. Hikers ruin our flow, but hey, that's part of sharing a mixed use trail. Similarly, bikers might momentarily disrupt your hiking vibe. Bikers, try to say hi and realize that hikers may be scared of you.. try to make them as confortable as you can. Hikers, wave.. give a "yee haw", stay in your line (ie keep walking in a straight path as if we weren't there), and know that the moment of terror will pass in an instant.

There's a good reason to not mix mountain bikers and horses. Griffith Park trails are hilly and winding. You often can't see what's around the next corner. A mountain bike racing down the hill coming around a corner can (and will) cause a horse to spook and can endanger the rider, the horse and even the biker. I've seen many of these accidents and have been on my horse when thoughtless biker whizzes by. For the safety of all, keep horses and bikes separate.

...and many other cities don't allow mountain bikes to degrade their wild spaces or endanger other trail users. For instance, bikes are not allowed on trails in Golden Gate Park.

Hm. Wonder why.

(Toughie- think hard now why this might be.)

Your reporter's "unbiased" studies saying MBs are safe were all commissioned and written by mountain bike lobbies.

Get a clue - the only controversy here is a bunch of spoiled 30-something weekend warriors who won't take NO for an answer.

"cyclist" most of them have an arrogant attitude of entitlement - who many of them actually obey the traffic laws when they bullishly demand to be treated as though they are a car? on the trails they just zip by hikers and children with abandon - not to mention the horses - horse people tend to make the trails calmer and they are a certain type - cyclists act like sociopaths. unfortunatly when one of them gets hit by a car its usually a decent person and not the bullies that enjoy assaulting drivers by cussing at them (when the cyclists are on the wrong side of the road) and physically punching the vehicles. nobody else gets a pass like there jerks do. they should not be allowed on trails b/c there is nobody to police them there and people are devoid of common coutesy these days.

Maintenence of trails that carry biycles is more difficult than for trails which donot, and since many trails are maintained by unpaid volunteers, it's a legitimate request for bicycles to not be on some trails.

Visibility is another issue though of course all the arguments for and against bicycles are already well talked out.

I spend a great deal of time on my bicycle, hiking, camping, climbing, and swimming, and I am also volunteer to perform train repairs. I stay off of foot and horse trails if they're so designated, often I will carry my bicycle across trail segments that are banned from bikes.

Horses also cause considerable damageif they are allowed to walk along the edge of the trail on the outside, more so when the ground is wet. Their damage is more or less that caused by cicyles depending upon the gait and breed of the animal and soil conditions.

Bill@ I spend as much time on my bicycle as possible, biking in the heavy rain, at night, in the daylight, everywhere, and I always follow the traffic signs and lights, and I always yield to cars even when the bicycle or pedestrian has the right of way, because car drivers very often have no idea what the rules are whereas most bicycle riders know the rules but ignore them.

As far as arrogance is concerned, no, you're wrong. As far as entitlement is concerned, we are entitled, just as you are entitled to utilize roads, bridges, and highways provided through your tax dollars.

You brand bicycle riders as if we're all right wing Republicans with total disreguard for the rights of others. Well many of us *do* follow the rules, do grant right-of-way, do what's needed to get along.

Also when I'm biking at night and I see the headlights of a vehicle coming or hear some rightard's snow tires slapping against the Summer pavement, I pick up my bicycle and I get off the road, climbing up or down the embankment or stepping over the safety railing since I know that 30% of the car drivers out there at night are either drunk or on narcotics.


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