Cyclists on one of North Americas most legendary motorcycle routes have more to worry about than flat tires and slipped chains: Radar gun-wielding rangers on Northern Californias Mount Tamalpais will soon begin enforcing a strict 15 -mile-per-hour speed limit.
The picturesque preserve in Marin County, simply north of San Francisco, is ensure by many as the birthplace of mountain biking, with a maze of winding roads that take cyclists through woods, atop spectacular peaks, and down paths at speeds topping 30 miles per hour. County parks officials say the speeding motorcycles could put hikers and horseback riders at risk.
“If trail users simply treat one another with mutual respect, we could all get on with and have a great time in the woods.”
– Greg Heil, editor-in-chief of Singletracks.com.
We dont have good data about how often speeding is occurring on Open Space Trails and this effort will provide good data covering speeding in our preserves, Max Korten, acting assistant director of Marin County Parks, told FoxNews.com.
The first step is to gauge the problem by equipping rangers with LiDAR, a laser-style speed-tracking technology, he told. For now, they will only issue written warnings, but ticket-writing could soon follow. A citation would go on the violators DMV record, and fines could reach $100.
Cyclists say velocity limits on bike paths are silly and unnecessary.
Marin County Parks has deemed radar necessary to show concerned parties, chiefly the foot people that safety on the trials is priority, said Vernon Huffman, chairman of Access4Bikes, a Marin County non-profit organization whose mission is the carnival and reasonable access to the local trails. But Marin County Parks cant name one single past incident that radar would have prevented.
Korten acknowledged that the trails are comparatively safe, but told a reasonable velocity limit could keep it that way.
We have had a few incidents of crashes between bike riders and pedestrians or equestrians, but those incidents are relatively rare when compared with the high level of use passing on our trails, Korten said.
Mount Tamalpais in the late 1970 s became known as the birthplace of mountain biking, providing the soil and swells for some of the countrys top racers. Yet in recent decades, bikers have lamented the rise of legislation and banning of motorcycles from the great majority of single-track trails in Marin County.
If trail users simply treat one another with reciprocal respect, we could all get on with and have a great time in the timbers, said Greg Heil, editor-in-chief of the website Singletracks.com. There are thousands of miles of multi-use trails across the country where mountain bikers peacefully co-exist with others. Less than one percent of these trails have a posted velocity limit, much less rangers with radar guns enforcing them.
What I do see from this unfortunate waste of taxpayer dollars is that Marin continues to cement itself as one of the least mountain bike friendly locatings in the nation, he added.
Chris Edwards, editor of DownsizingGovernment.org and an expert at the public policy-centered Cato Institute, agreed that setting velocity traps for cyclists is a classic instance of local government overreach.
Park agencies are always complaining that they have a shortage of funding, but the Marin County effort to prevent mountain bikers from having fun shows that it has money to burn, he said.
Marin County has implemented velocity limit enforcement on paved motorcycle tracks since 2015 and claims that this effort combined with a signage and education initiative lead to a significant reduction of speed. Sheriffs deputies in the area reportedly have issued more than 60 citations and warns. Rangers also patrol popular off-road roads in Californias East Bay and other areas in the state are known for their ranger presence.
Through our road and trail management scheme we are considering proposals to open new roads to mountain bike use and want to have a tool to address safety concerns from hikers and equestrians regarding the potential motorcycle employ on these trails, Korten said. We hope that bicycle use is not deterred by this effort, but that all of our guests including those on bicycles will be more likely to visit our preserves knowing that other users will conduct themselves in a safe manner.
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