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Rough road ahead?

Original post made on Apr 3, 2009

A rift that's been brewing for years between mountain bikers and the East Bay Regional Park District hit a boiling point last week when the two parties converged at a boisterous meeting detailing future plans for the Pleasanton Ridge.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 3, 2009, 6:56 AM

Comments (24)

Posted by John Loundagin
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 3, 2009 at 8:49 am

As part of the broader planning of trail use, there should be a coherent education component so that all users will know exactly how to use the trails. As a mountain biker, I can't tell you how many times I've come across a group of hikers walking shoulder to shoulder, completely blocking the fireroads. This can create a very dangerous situation for all involved. Hikers (and bikers) need to know where they should be on any trail at any particular time.

Posted by OSL Community
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2009 at 9:10 am

I'm a P-towner but live in Castro Valley now and live next to open space adjacent to the Lake Chabot wilderness. I hike in the open space almost everyday and bike it sometimes and would like to comment on errosion coming from grazing. I'm cool with the horses and cows that graze, but prefer the goats as they are lighter animals and don't dig in to the hillside nearly as much. The open space next to me here in the CV is very very damaged from the cows' massive weight. Big old scars where they slip and depressions every where. Looks like moon craters. It looks like the Pleasanton sports park after its been airrated, but instead of small dirt plugs ever there are huge holes five inches wide. I mean every where. And the cow pattys are everywhere; sometimes to the point of ridiculousness. The Ridge suffers the same affliction from the cows. No one restricts their movements.

Posted by Mike Vandeman
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 3, 2009 at 12:05 pm

I wonder why no one will answer this question?: "Why should BICYCLES be allowed in the natural areas of the park?" They are MACHINES. They have no rights whatsoever. All mountain bikers are capable of walking; if they couldn't walk, they could get stranded by a flat tire. I have been asking this for 14 years, and no one, mountain biker or other, has been able to give a good reason for allowing bikes in natural areas. Anything that mountain biking provides (exercise, access, excitement, etc.) can be attained without a bike. What do you think we did before the mountain bike was invented???

Mountain biking is an extreme sport that has no place in our parks, whose primary purpose if the protection of their wildlife habitat.

Waiting for an answer....

Posted by Gordon
a resident of Ponderosa
on Apr 3, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Trails (single tracks) create erosion problems mainly when there is no effort to maintain them and divert water runoff.

Is there a relationship between WW and EBRPD Operations? Park land acquisition is good but maintenance appears to be limited to roads where tractors can do the work. There seems to be little maintenance of trails. Bay Leaf is one of the only multiuse trails, but it has no diversions so rain water runs down the path a couple times a year and creates big trenches. This happens no matter who uses trails - hikers, bikers, horses or cows.

It is time to legitimize and maintain the narrow trails (single tracks) that are currently being used. Designating and maintaining them as multi-use will benefit everyone and these trails certainly present less environmental impact than the various fire roads.

Denying these trails as reasonable and beneficial public amenities will only lead to unnecessary conflict between park management and the public. There are too many successful precedents for single track use in other areas. Those who hike, bike or horseback the trails regularly have the greatest sense of ownership, knowledge, and passion about them. EBRPD should leverage, these sentiments for better use and stewardship... not resist it!

Posted by Stu Smith
a resident of Val Vista
on Apr 3, 2009 at 12:35 pm

I don't even mountain bike on the ridge, but what a closed minded view. If your true concern is the protection of the wildlife habitat, you should be concerned with the cows.

Posted by John Loundagin
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 3, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Hey, Mike. Interesting comment. I'm mainly wondering about the authenticity of your assumption. Do you walk bare foot? Aren't your shoes unnatural? What does the chemical content of the soles of your shoes do with the soil? Do you know? I mean, for sure? Do you use a walking stick ever?

I daresay that the reason you've been waiting for an answer for "14 years" is because you seem to have appointed yourself as the final judge and arbiter of trail use, and your arguments are based on your narrow opinion rather than a consesnus of multiple trail users. The Pleasanton Ridge is surrounded by human activity, and to consider it untouched or "natural" is laughable at best.

If you can somehow explain that your hiking gear is any less harmful to the environment than a mountain bike tire, you might be taken seriously.

Posted by Joel Olney
a resident of Mission Park
on Apr 3, 2009 at 5:35 pm

I've hiked the ridge with my kids and their friends for over 20 years. Now that I am older I find it beneficial on my knees to ride a bike rather than hike and I actually enjoy the cycling more. I cannot understand the angst that a few hikers have about cyclists, in all those years I've never witnessed a problem between a cyclist and a hiker. Environmentally, the narrow trails are much less damaging than the fire roads and give the users the experience they come to the park for. The only answer is to sign the narrow trails for multiuse and require the users to be polite.

Posted by Dan
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Apr 3, 2009 at 6:13 pm


I also have taken up cycling due to knee issues like you.

Actually hikers generally don't have issues with cyclists, (I've been to plenty of public EBRPD meetings). Ignore that one guy on here, he's well known for his odd stance on things.

Posted by z
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2009 at 9:03 pm

The EBRPD is so bad that whatever they open will suck. It'll be 4' wide and will not be interesting. Most staff at the district have no clue what a good trail should be like, and are afraid of anything over 5% steep, except when it comes to fireroads... Of course, they can be plenty steep, they got no problem with that. Seriously, they cowtow to a few anti cyclists extremists and will give bikers crumbs expecting us to like it. Whenever we complain, we have to be more patient. I don't know about you, but people have been plenty patient for the last 25 years...

Wieskamp is a pure politician, and will say whatever you want to hear. Bottom line, 2 years from now, we'll have a crappy plan that won't have an inch of a decent single track. That's a pretty safe bet.

Bottom line: don't ride in the EBRPD district whenever you have the chance.

Posted by True environmentalist
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2009 at 9:03 pm

" 'We have to make sure that we're not hurting the habitat, whether it's creatures or plants,' Wieskamp said." Really? I don't believe you. Otherwise you would get rid of the cows. They're what have kept most of the regional "parks" cattle-ranching industrial sacrifice areas, almost empty of native plants and wildlife. At their worst they look not too different from the Harris Ranch on I-5. Tut-tutting about mountain bikers while the letting the cows continue to destroy entire "parks" is like tut-tutting about a houseguest's time in the shower while your whole house is burning down around you.

Posted by Brian
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2009 at 4:49 am

Does Government need to control every aspect of our lives? Let the bikers use the trials, geez!

Posted by Dublinmike
a resident of Dublin
on Apr 4, 2009 at 2:40 pm

I prefer to walk the trails but my neighbor (in his mid-50s) explained to me in an intelligent (and calm) manner recently why the narrow trails matter. I now have a clearer understanding of the exhilaration that one gets on those narrow trails that wider roads do not have. Unless you outlaw all bikes in a park, I think they have the right to request narrow trails. Frankly, I would rather have them off the hiker's trail for safety reasons.

If we outlaw them, then eliminate the cattle grazing as well. I see the benefit of fire control but this is offset by the environmental damage they create. I have lived in the Tri-Valley all my life and have seen the damage they do.

Regarding Ayn Wieskamp's comment: "I am a strong supporter of cyclists..." but states: "There are opportunities to build real trails that are single-track, but (they) will be designed so that all users can use them." doesn't have a clue about the relative importance of narrow trails. MBs, you need to write her.

Lastly, ALL users cause some type of environmental damage and advance the errosion process. Therefore, it's not a question of closing a park but one of how to manage the impact we all have on it.

Posted by Ann Barth
a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Okay, here is the crux of the matter. The mountain bikers want their fun and don't care if they ruin the trail experience for other users. I have yet to meet one who will support sensible speed limits on trails, which protect other users. Who hiking, or botanizing, or carrying a baby in a backpack, or on a horse, wants to risk their safety on a trail with a user going 5 times faster? You sure cannot enjoy the solitude or wildlife with somebody whizzing by or hitting you! It's not a compatable use, and plain dangerous. In fact today, while hiking, had a mtn biker come up around a corner too fast for me to get off the he went off the the side, crushing all sorts of native wildflowers...he was going TOO FAST. And, I have been dumped off my horse who was spooked by a biker on a singletrack trail who was going TOO FAST.

Secondly, the bike tires leave RUTS and tracks that channel water on the trail, as opposed to hikers and horses who pack dirt....and nobody should be on muddy or wet trails anyway.

Mbikers show a flagrant disregard for rules and regulations and feel they have some "right" to make illegal trails and go wherever they want, no wonder so many parks are closing singletrack trails to bikes.

The supreme court (Babbit vs. Marin) proved that land managers have every right to consider natural resource protection and user safety when deciding who can use trails.

The only user group I have ever heard that try to claim everyone can get along on multi-use trails are the bikers.

There is no environmental benefit to mountain bikes on trails and a lot of proven harm. Plus you guys load up your SUV's to DRIVE to the parks you damage. My suggestion if you want wheeled exercise is to get a road bike and do some century rides!

Posted by Mike Vandeman
a resident of San Ramon
on Apr 4, 2009 at 10:20 pm

John Loundagin, the available science leaves no doubt that mountain biking does far more damage to the environment than hiking: Web Link I have yet to meet even ONE mountain biker who is familiar with the research.

But it really doesn't take any research to know that. Mountain bikers travel several times as fast and as far as hikers, so even if they did the same amount of damage per mile (which they obviously DON'T), the mountain biker would do several times as muchy damage as a hiker.

For those with bad knees, you are free to bike on the road, which is far better for you than mountain biking, anyway. Mountain biking is so dangerous that serious accidents and even deaths from mountain biking are common: Web Link

But most of the reason that some people think that mountain biking is acceptable is that they don't consider the impacts on the wildlife. Do you really think that a snake or lizard or plant cares whether they are killed by a "polite" mountain biker, or by a "gonzo", out-of-control mountain biker? Mountain biking greatly increases the human footprint in the parks. Before mountain biking was allowed, far fewer people used the parks, and they traveled far less within the parks, giving the wildlife more use of their habitat. Mountain bikers even ride at night, further restricting the wildlife's use of their own home! Mountain bikers don't care asbout the wildlife OR the other trail users. They wish we would shut up, roll over, and give them free rein in the parks. That only happens in Canada, South Africa, and other countries where nature is not respected.

Posted by Mt biker chick
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 5, 2009 at 9:52 am

While riding my bike up the Pleasanton ridge last week I couldn't help to notice the amount of bikers heading down the trail my way, where as before last month, (before the singletrack gates where put up) there were VERY few, mostly consisting of beginner rider types that aren't comfortable on singletrack yet (my point being very little bike traffic riding down). I counted 3 close calls that could have resulted in injury where hikers blocked the entire trail completely oblivious to possible bikers riding down. One biker recieved a rope burn from a retractable dog leash... Dog owner on one side of the trail, dog on the other side and mt biker caught up in the middle!!!! This is craziness!!!! Their are far more bikers now than ever and is increasing on a day to day basis. Before the singletrack barriers where put up, rarely these issues occured. By allowing bikes the singletrack down seems like a win win for all parties! ESPECIALLY, before someone gets seriously injured

Posted by John Loundagin
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 5, 2009 at 6:08 pm


Is your self-serving link all you got? Seriously. Your polemicism gets you nowhere.

The bottom line is that we need to share the trails, and to start off with the assumption that 'It's those darn mountain bikers' is a losing propostion. Your position is no different from drivers who claim that cyclists shouldn't be on the streets because they were "designed for cars and motorized vehicles."

Let's move forward and come up with a solution that allows all trail users the same access to the trails.

Posted by Z
a resident of another community
on Apr 5, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Ann, you are outright lying. I am sorry that simple facts seem to confuse you so easily. Mountain bikes have no more impact and much less than horse riders. That's a proven fact.

As for compatibility with solitude enjoyment of wilderness... Well, this is a public park, paid by all of us taxpayers. So, what you really want is have your government funded private Idaho. What a joke. If you want solitude, work harder, and get your own piece of land.

At any rate, the EBRPD is way behind the times. Drive down to San Jose and enjoy true multi use single track and have fun. Today, I rode in Santa Teresa, passed 2 horse riders, a bunch of hikers, and everybody had a good time.

Posted by had close call recently
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 5, 2009 at 11:48 pm

I think bikers should be allowed to use any trail in the park they desire. Maybe it will keep them off the streets where they create dangerous situtations by riding side by side on narrow roadways/streets.

Bikers have a "right" to use the roadways but think about it - bike vs two ton vehicle. Guess who get the worse of it.

Bikers, please use more common sense and realize the dangers to all involved by riding side by side on narrows roadways.

Mt biker chick, Couldn't the dog leash "rope burn" have been prevented if the biker had simply stopped before hitting the leash. Would that have been too much to ask of the biker. If the biker was going so fast he/she didn't see the leash while passing the hiker wasn't he/she going "too fast for conditions" and putting both biker and hiker in jeopardy. Safety is a two way street.

Posted by Tm
a resident of another community
on Apr 6, 2009 at 2:44 am

To reply to a few comments I have seen above:

First, road bikers and mtn bikers are generally two different groups of people. Some people ride both, but alot only ride one or the other (just like the different types of horses). Opening trails will probably not reduce road bike traffic, but will reduce the congestion of existing trails as the mtn bikers will have more trails to spread out on. And for the rope-burn/dog leash: I almost had a similar experience in another park. Chances are the dog leash was one of those retractable types, which uses a 3mm black cord that is nearly invisible. I didnt see the cord and thought the dog was actually off-leash until I noticed the owner carrying the handle to it. He was also on his cellphone and completely oblivious to the fact that I was about to ride right thought it. I managed to stop in time and suggested he pay more attention to where his dog was as well as other users of the trail. And no, I was not going "TOO FAST!", I was well in control of my bike.

Second, the "research" link provided by Mike is nothing but a collection of scientific studies showing the impact of different traffic on the trails, with the author's commentary of how it is all flawed in his opinion, all biased towards how bikes Obviously cause more damage and thus the studies showing that they dont must be wrong. Please read the studies themselves, and you will see that bikes cause similar impact as hikers. The point that "even if they cause equal damage per mile, bikes travel further thus cause more damage" is moot. Since that "damage" is spread along that distance, if a hiker were to travel the same distance as the bike, they would render the same impact. Its not more damage to a single spot on the trail. The comment about plant damage almost made me laugh: how the studies did not take into account damage to plants trying to re-establish themselves on a trail... it is a TRAIL, it is not meant to have plants on it, part of maintaining a trial is to REMOVE or trim plants that encroach and block access. If plants re-established successfully, it would no longer be a trail.

I have been amazed and dumbfounded on how backwards land management seems to be here. I moved here a year ago from Georgia, where trail access is much less of an issue because it is mostly open to all. There are even multiple single-use trails open only for bikes, some only for equestrians, and plenty only for hikers. This gives each user group trails of their own so they have places to go without worrying about running into anyone else. There are also no speed limits in most areas (I thought it was a joke when I heard that rangers used radar against bikes here!), and I have not heard of any incidents from bikes running over people/horses. As I mentioned above, opening more trails to bikes will give bikers more choices, so they can spread out. This reduces the chance that other trail users will even see a biker let alone have one "wizz by" going "TOO FAST". Closing trails to bikes is anti-productive as it will concentrate the growing bike population to the few areas that are open, which would likely force out these other groups that do not like sharing with the bikes. More trails need to be opened, and new trails designed and built for Mnt bikes. This will make everyone happy, as it will siphon the bikers to the bike specific trails, removing them from the trails equestrians want to use, and the ones hikers like to enjoy, while giving the bikers the type of trail they want.

Posted by Devin
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Apr 6, 2009 at 2:57 pm

WOW! Some people on here are so out of touch with reality that it makes me giggle. The computer you're using to type your message on has likely done a lot more damage to the environment than the bicycles riding the Pleasanton ridge will ever do. Mike...Seriously? Bikes are machines so they shouldn't be allowed in the park? Just walk? Holy crap that makes no sense. Better leave those cameras behind. GPS GeoCaching has got to go too. NO CELL PHONES! MACHINES MACHINES MACHINES!!! Mt. Bikers load up their SUV's and burn fossil fuels...? I bet you drove your car to the park. I ride my bike from my house. If you all could get out of the bay area for a second and realize how much open space there really is in this world, I doubt you'd be nitpicking about a 2' wide trail network on the ridge. I mean seriously, we could carve up the whole ridge and cover it with trails and homes and it would still have less of an impact than that tank that was delivering your computer from china and hit the bridge and spilled oil into the bay. I know that is an extreme analogy, but my point is that sometimes you gotta make some personal sacrifices for the greater good of the community. Bikers pay their taxes too. I'm pretty sure I paid more in taxes last year than most of the plants or animals on the ridge did last year...

Posted by Mountain biker
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2009 at 9:36 pm

As a Bay Area resident I have to express my condolences to Tm, who came here from Georgia and is surprised to discover "how backwards land management seems to be here." It is indeed. But fortunately it is so mostly in the East Bay, where the East Bay Regional Park District pretends to be operating something like 65 parks but in fact is operating maybe 40 parks (and even those with out of date steep fire roads, few real trails, too many employees who'd rather drive a truck than walk, and ludicrous no-bikes rules) and 25 desolate cattle ranches masquerading as parks. It's a long story, but see and to get an idea of the issues and the problems.

Yes, certain parts of the Bay Area are well behind many other states as regards land management! But in the South Bay you'll find some great mountain biking and hiking. Check out Henry Coe State Park, Soquel Demonstration State Forest, and Rancho Cañada del Oro. In Marin County there's Tamarancho and the Pine Mountain Loop. And in San Mateo County you'll find El Corte de Madera and Skeggs. All worth the drive from the dreary East Bay situation.

Finally, consider running for the EBRPD board of directors once you've established a permanent residence. Getting out the old and in the new is the only way we'll bring EBRPD out of its 1950's-style management practices. Information on the current board:

Posted by nerd
a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 7, 2009 at 11:21 pm

whew...thankfully i'm moving away from the east bay! i'm sure glad that i've been able to ride all of those great trails that the cows made. i've been riding them for 20 years. rode all of those singletrack trails before they shut 'em down last time in the 1990's. still, i'm sad that the ebprd has mismanaged our open spaces for so roads, cows, bulldozers, few new trails, few singletrack trials for bicyclists...etc. now i'm moving to a place that encourages cyclists to ride their bikes off road.

btw- i've been biking and hiking in the east bay for 24 years. good luck to you who will stay here and hash it all out. maybe i'll return in another 24 years to ride the new singletrack (if there will be any).

Posted by Michael J Hartlaub
a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2009 at 8:41 am

Mountain bikes should belong, all this open space and park space and we can't all have a place to go? This is crazy. Open up this park to mountain bikes and stop listening to the people who don't want anybody else to use it

Posted by bluenos
a resident of Livermore
on Apr 10, 2009 at 2:00 pm

I hike, ride both horses and mt-bikes and by far 1200lbs horses damage more.
Those with spook prone horses should NOT be allowed in public areas.
The rationale that mt-biking isn’t safe for the rider is humorous at best.
Cows never damage wildlife?

By the way did you know that horses or hikers are allowed to go anywhere in the park including off trail? Yes – anywhere and mt-bikers are banned from most trails (non fire road)?

Mike Vandeman – I can’t possibly have good reason since I operate a MACHINE. Entertaining reading about you on the web but I won’t give you any more attention.

Let’s not let the minority or occasional exaggerated event inappropriately brand any user groups.

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