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Fellow mountain bikers,

I'm a long-time mountain bike trail access advocate and also a 12-year veteran of the East Bay Regional Park District volunteer bicycle patrol. When I patrol in uniform, which lets people identify me, I hear a lot of complaints from hikers and equestrians about everything imaginable. For a number of years, complaints about mountain bikers in Redwood Regional Park dropped steadily, while those about dogs went up. In the last year, however, complaints about mountain bikers have been rising. I'm regularly getting an earful when I show up at Skyline Gate.

Here's what I've been hearing lately (with varying degrees of vehemence): (1) on East Ridge Trail, returning to Skyline Gate, mountain bikers are going too fast down the last little hill toward the parking lot and scaring people, particularly people with children and the elderly. (2) Throughout the park, mountain bikers aren't calling out to pass. (3) When Mr. and Mrs. Citizen complain to them, the mountain bikers flip them off, curse them, or otherwise disrespect them.

I've been thinking that maybe we should view the last couple of hundred yards before Skyline Gate as equivalent to a docking area in a marina--you know, where the speed limit is 5 mph and "no wake" signs are posted. If everyone would slow down and give hikers a wide berth in the final approaches to Skyline Gate, I think that would reduce the complaints.

Also, please call out whenever passing.

Now, I can tell that some of the complainers are too sensitive or are curmudgeonly, or both. As a matter of public relations, though, I'm going to assume that everyone I pass fits in one of those two categories and act accordingly, i.e., extra polite.

Because I'm sure that not all of the complaints are well-founded, I'd like to hear another perspective. Have you had any run-ins with dog-walkers, hikers, or equestrians in Redwood? Did you think their complaints were fair, ridiculous, or somewhere in between? All I hear now is the complainers' side of the story.

Thanks.
 

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imtnbke said:
Because I'm sure that not all of the complaints are well-founded, I'd like to hear another perspective. Have you had any run-ins with dog-walkers, hikers, or equestrians in Redwood? Did you think their complaints were fair, ridiculous, or somewhere in between? All I hear now is the complainers' side of the story.
You make a good point about East Ridge. It's easy to go fast heading towards skyline because the trail is wide, smooth, and after grunting for the past few miles, it's nice to carry some speed up the few small hills that lead to the gate. It's also gets heavy use, so taking it nice and easy there is a good idea.

As goofy as it feels initially, I've started using a bell. It's much easier to ding it from a long distance to alert hikers of your presence rather than calling out from much closer.

As far as run-ins, I haven't had anything serious. Plenty of off-leash dog walkers don't have great control of their dogs. I got a dirty look and a snippy "slow down" as a passed a walker at something close to 3-5 mph before quickly braking to avoid her dog which ran accross the trail at me (not aggressively, just playfully curious). Maybe she was getting buzzed by other bikers, but short of stopping and stepping off my bike, I couldn't go any slower. And this was on a wide part of East Ridge. So there's my cranky mountain biker perspective... get rid of off-leash dog walking.

-Dave
 

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8Trak said:
You make a good point about East Ridge. It's easy to go fast heading towards skyline because the trail is wide, smooth, and after grunting for the past few miles, it's nice to carry some speed up the few small hills that lead to the gate. It's also gets heavy use, so taking it nice and easy there is a good idea.

As goofy as it feels initially, I've started using a bell. It's much easier to ding it from a long distance to alert hikers of your presence rather than calling out from much closer.

As far as run-ins, I haven't had anything serious. Plenty of off-leash dog walkers don't have great control of their dogs. I got a dirty look and a snippy "slow down" as a passed a walker at something close to 3-5 mph before quickly braking to avoid her dog which ran accross the trail at me (not aggressively, just playfully curious). Maybe she was getting buzzed by other bikers, but short of stopping and stepping off my bike, I couldn't go any slower. And this was on a wide part of East Ridge. So there's my cranky mountain biker perspective... get rid of off-leash dog walking.

-Dave
I'm with Dave. People and dogs are all over the place. Toward Skyline, it's a slaloming exercise between off leash dogs. I got a bell, and use it, but still get nasty looks from walkers once in a while. One easy solution would be to open the other trails where hikers don't even go... :)
 

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Got a Bell

I got a bell too and use it whenever I get close to a hiker, or even passing another biker (more rare for me). Very frequently the hiker will thank me for using the bell. Once in a while (1 in 100) I'll get a scowl. But they would probably have scowled anyway, at everything.

I think the bell also helps the hiker figure out which side of them I'm coming from too. Many just move the right way without even looking back. I'll also yell Hi as I pass too.
 

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If you are going so fast that you can't say "Hi there" to warn hikers you're coming, and "Thanks, two more" when you pass, you are going way too fast.

If you don't think so, Hike up the Canyon trail in Monte Bello.
 

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Franky says chill...

I always slow way down passing people. Don't even need to say anything that way. If people see me coming and jump out of the way, I ride on by at a safe speed and give my salutations. You can't act like you own the trail but Iunderstand how frustrating it gets when hikers and especially equestrians act like they do. There are always the bad apples who act like its us against them. The attitudes of the "them" are not helping anything. In my experiences 60%-70% of hikers and 90% of equestrians are indignant or down right hostile to me when I'm on my bike.

A lot of the time people focus on the small minority of riders who are responsible for the few bad experiences others have with bikers and then they generalize those few occurances to the whole. In effect, they forget about all the times we slow down smile and say, Hi ( Like I do and more often than not they don't even acknowledge me). The only reason my equestrian figure is at 90% is because on my local trails I managed to startle a horse ( I was rolling at about walking speed) the lady was very nice about it. Equestrians should all be aware that its their horse that is the liability in those situations and not the biker. Different story if the biker doesn't slow down.
 

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i've never had an issue but then again i tend to like to ride 'happy' and say hi to everyone, call out before passing, etc. as for skyline i would agree that we should be careful around there as it's flat and there's tons of traffic. i usually am climbing up out of the canyon to skyline so by the time i get up there i need a rest anyway and speed is not my issue.
 

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Generalizations

Here are mine, re: multiple use issues in Redwood:

- Most hikers, equestrians, dog users, etc. that I have had contact with are relatively sophisticated in regard to mountain bikes; they expect to see us out there, and while they may not be thrilled we're there, they understand that this is an urban park where 'all are welcome.'

- Most mountain bikers out there are courteous, as well. Let's face it, the weekend warriors who make up 80+% of bike traffic in Redwood are like me: a bit older, wiser, and out for fun, not to bomb the downhills and terrify people. I always use my bell, and slow down, and say hi, thanks, etc. (At other spots, like China Camp, when I have startled people because I'm adimittedly going too fast, I immediately slow down and apologize. It just isn't worth it, to me, to me a d!ck about riding a bike.)

- Unfortunately, there are a very small minority of idiots who ruin all the good will that we work for. They don't call out or use a bell, they go as fast as they want, and if people call them on it, they spout off. This contingent will always to what they do, but in terms of absolute numbers, they are a small minority. Just as the vocal anti-bike group is a small minority.

- Yes, the final stretch of East Ridge coming up to Skyline Gate should be considered a 'slow zone'. The tendency for excessive speed is understandable: most riders are finishing their loop, have completed the grind up East Ridge, and have 'earned' that last bit of speed back to the car. Unfortunately, other park users are just getting out or their cars and beginning to enjoy their outdoor experience, and it pisses them off to get buzzed by mountain bikes (understandably so, IMO).

I guess I'm just an old fart, but I go out of my way to be polite on the trails.
 

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Yet said:
If you don't think so, Hike up the Canyon trail in Monte Bello.
Do people actually hike up this trail from Steven's Canyon Road? I've seen a few people over the years, but when there are no places to park within a couple of miles of the trailhead seems like a lot of pavement hiking to get to a so-so trail at best.

-Derek
 

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attack of the Mtn Bikers..

A couple months ago, a friend of mine was attacked by a small dog. We passed slowly after calling out, then we went on about our ride. The little dog took off after him, started chewing on his foot, and the hiker was calling the dog, to no avail. When my friend began to try to kick the dog off of him the hiker became furious, just mad.

Another rider in the group was explaining to the hiker that the dog must be under verbal control at all times, or leashed if the dog can't control things. Obviously this was a rule violation on the hikers part. The dog should have been on the leash....The hiker was beggining to foam at the mouth now..... scary, all that spit-all, and such....

Just as the small dog was finally flung off the riders foot, another dog bolted into my front wheel, aparantely to see what was going on in the vicinity with the small dog (no I did not run into it, it ran into me). I was taken out pretty well, scraped up a tad, but I was mostly upset that my front disc got bent!

Long story short, some hikers will rant on and on about bikers, yet they don't know it is against the rules to have a dog which can't be contolled when off leash (that is if they are walking a dog).....
 

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The bottom line is this situation has been going on for as long as I have been mountain biking (17 years) and is not likely to change. What will change is our available riding areas as the vocal group or the perceived injured party (read hikers) get bikers kicked out of our precious few riding areas...it has happened in the past and will happen again in the future. All we can do is continue to be courteous and educate those we bring into the sport and those we see as potential trouble for our group. We have too few places to ride now, so I keep up the dialog with the hikers during my ride to try and make up for those that don't...just my humble opinion!
Chip
 

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I think

The claim that mtn bikers are flipping them off sounds a little ridiculous since it is pretty hard to flip someone off when you are going downhill and have already passed someone...My feeling is that most of the complaining comes from hikers and equestrians who have an agenda against mtn bikers anyway and they usually tend to try and paint mtn bikers as being careless and rude.

A few years back I was going down Stevens Trail in Colfax and I risked my life by bailing out in order to keep from killing a choc lab that was off leash on the trail. I came out with cuts and bruises and then was verbally assaulted by two bit...er... I mean women who called me every name in the book. I made a remark about the dog being off the leash but held my temper and continued down to the river. Upon getting back to the top I was met by a state park ranger....seems the women told him that a cussed them out and flipped them off after almost killing their "leashed" dog. He said he would give me warning instead of writing me a ticket for excessive speed.
 

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bigboulder said:
The claim that mtn bikers are flipping them off sounds a little ridiculous since it is pretty hard to flip someone off when you are going downhill and have already passed someone...My feeling is that most of the complaining comes from hikers and equestrians who have an agenda against mtn bikers anyway and they usually tend to try and paint mtn bikers as being careless and rude.

A few years back I was going down Stevens Trail in Colfax and I risked my life by bailing out in order to keep from killing a choc lab that was off leash on the trail. I came out with cuts and bruises and then was verbally assaulted by two bit...er... I mean women who called me every name in the book. I made a remark about the dog being off the leash but held my temper and continued down to the river. Upon getting back to the top I was met by a state park ranger....seems the women told him that a cussed them out and flipped them off after almost killing their "leashed" dog. He said he would give me warning instead of writing me a ticket for excessive speed.
Wow. That is some mean hikers you met there.

I guess that we have to keep in mind that every trail user group has its share of jacka$$, and hopefully it's a minority.
 

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Katana said:
A couple months ago, a friend of mine was attacked by a small dog. We passed slowly after calling out, then we went on about our ride. The little dog took off after him, started chewing on his foot, and the hiker was calling the dog, to no avail. When my friend began to try to kick the dog off of him the hiker became furious, just mad.

Another rider in the group was explaining to the hiker that the dog must be under verbal control at all times, or leashed if the dog can't control things. Obviously this was a rule violation on the hikers part. The dog should have been on the leash....The hiker was beggining to foam at the mouth now..... scary, all that spit-all, and such....

Just as the small dog was finally flung off the riders foot, another dog bolted into my front wheel, aparantely to see what was going on in the vicinity with the small dog (no I did not run into it, it ran into me). I was taken out pretty well, scraped up a tad, but I was mostly upset that my front disc got bent!

Long story short, some hikers will rant on and on about bikers, yet they don't know it is against the rules to have a dog which can't be contolled when off leash (that is if they are walking a dog).....
Yep,

Their off leash and out of control dogs proved to be much more dangerous than any mountain bikers. That is the third time I have witnessed dogs attacking mountain bikers at Redwood Park. Unfortunately hikers are less conscientious about their responsibilities than mountain bikers are - likely because they aren't in danger of losing access.

After talking to that group of ladies for about 10 minutes - their message to me was "I don't care what the rules are - and I don't care about other park users- when you see my dog, get the F out of the way." She's lucky Katana wasn't hurt or he could have sued.

FWIW I'm with Cohen5 - I smile, wave, great and yell out to all trail users. You'd think I was running for mayor the way I chat em up!
 

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I'm not going to pretend that MTBs are not potentially dangerous, but a bike is much more inherently under control than a 500 pound stupid animal (horse) or a dog for that matter. Its just a matter of fact that most people will make things up about us if they really hate us enough. There was some deal recently in SoCal where some person claimed that a mountainbiker killed their horse by passing too fast and freaking the horse out, all the way down a cliff. A horse falling down the cliff should at least have made local news for its sob story appeal, but there was never any verification of the claim. As far as I could tell, it never happened. It was an insidious lie. I've heard about hikers putting wires across trails and such to hurt bikers, and many of those cases are quite possibly fabrications too. The world is just full of idiots.
 

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RobsterCraw said:
I'm not going to pretend that MTBs are not potentially dangerous, but a bike is much more inherently under control than a 500 pound stupid animal (horse) or a dog for that matter. Its just a matter of fact that most people will make things up about us if they really hate us enough. There was some deal recently in SoCal where some person claimed that a mountainbiker killed their horse by passing too fast and freaking the horse out, all the way down a cliff. A horse falling down the cliff should at least have made local news for its sob story appeal, but there was never any verification of the claim. As far as I could tell, it never happened. It was an insidious lie. I've heard about hikers putting wires across trails and such to hurt bikers, and many of those cases are quite possibly fabrications too. The world is just full of idiots.
Yep,

I was accosted by a horsback rider about 1/4 mile from skyline gate on East Ridge. The horse back rider argued that I should get off my bike when ever coming close (on a 15' wide trail?) to a horse - so he proceeded to use crowd control techniques (push his horse sideways into me) in order to make his point.

He was wearing one of those green "volunteer patrol" vests as well. I called the cops right in front of him, and they wouldn't even take my report.
 
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