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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

I'm a longtime equestrian (30+ years) and recently started mountain biking.

The following is a copy of a post I made on a mountain-biking email list. I"m reposting here, with Chuck's permission to quote his part of the discussion, so we can continue the discussion here. (I am also making a few minor edits to my reply.)

Chuck Fry wrote:
> On the trails, bikes are relative newcomers, and getting access often
> requires changing long-established rules. On the roads, we have the
> legal *right* to ride, and have had it for more than a century, but some
> drivers don't see it that way.
>
> JC, please consider this: How is a cyclist on a mountain road any
> different from natural "obstacles" such as rockfall or deer?

On any given day (especially a nice day, especially on a weekend morning or weekday afternoon - equestrians frequently enjoy riding at the same time mountain bikers do) equestrians are FAR more likely to encounter a bicycle on the trail than deer or a rockslide. In my 30+ years of riding horses on trails I've never encountered an active rockslide. I've encountered more bicycles (especially in recent years) than deer.

If an equestrian encounters a deer, the deer will always flee away from the horse into the forest, not continue on the trail directly towards you. If a horse encounters a deer that flees away, the horse will look for the "predator" that the deer is running away from (it doesn't realize that it is the thing the deer is running away from because horses and deer happily share pasture when humans aren't around), but it won't run from the deer itself - the deer isn't behaving in a way that is believed to be a threat to the horse.

Bikes are different. A bike doesn't shy away like other "prey" animals do, it (initially) continues directly towards the horse the way a "predator" animal would. Horses have 2 ways of dealing with threats, Flee or Fight, and they prefer to flee whenever possible as they are very fast animals and can outrun most predators. A bike's sudden appearance triggers the horse's instinctive "feet don't fail me now" reaction to turn and run away as fast as possible. In attempting this maneuver (spin and bolt) the rider is at great risk of being thrown. Even when the bike rider tries to stop immediately upon encountering the horse, the time it takes to recognize that they should stop, and then actually stop, is not enough to prevent the horse from deciding that this is a possible predator and trying to depart the scene, immediately. Even with a very well trained horse, even with a horse that knows (when it has time to think) that a bicycle poses no threat. Even if the horse doesn't spin and bolt, simply startling (which is called "shying" or "spooking" in equestrian lingo) can be enough to unseat the rider.

I know - it happened to me once when I was riding a horse that had no fear of "bicycles" but was startled when two mountain bikes came around a curve fast (downhill), then skidded to a stop (on gravel). The bicyclists did everything RIGHT (they weren't speeding, and they yielded immediately) yet my horse startled (shied) and I fell off. Fortunately, I was not hurt, didn't lose my grip on the reins, and I didn't blame the riders because I knew they tried their very best to yield to me and my horse.

But most other equestrians wouldn't see it this way. They would figure that if the bikes hadn't been on the trail their horse wouldn't have spooked/shied and they wouldn't have fallen. Can you really blame them for coming to this conclusion?

A fall from a horse is much more dangerous than a fall from a bicycle. The rider is falling from a much greater height, and due to the distance of the fall is more likely to rotate while falling, and land on their head. The rider is also at risk of being hung up in the tack (foot stuck in a stirrup, hand caught in a rein) and being drug by the panicked horse.

(I know someone who was 12 when his younger sister died in a horseback riding accident. She fell off her pony and was caught up in the reins and dragged and trampled by the pony, and died the next day.)

Yes, bike riders can be hurt in bike accidents too. I don't know of any case when a mountain bike spooked, or trampled its rider, or drug the rider. All of the biking accidents I know about (including my own) are self-inflicted due to bicyclists trying things one ought not to try at one's particular skill level. OTOH, horseback riding accidents are frequently triggered by external events the rider has no control over, even when the rider is very experienced, even when the horse is very well trained.

I'm not saying this to say "horseback riders are special" - I'm just trying to help educate mountain bikers about the risks horseback riders face on the trails so mountain bike riders can better understand why everyone needs to be careful to share the trails safely.

> If there
> isn't enough visibility for a cyclist to be safe, isn't the car already
> going too fast for conditions?

Yes. Absolutely Yes.

So, given that most cars do drive too fast for conditions on many scenic/mountain roads, why do road riders insist on putting their bodies at risk of a fatal accident by riding on roads where drivers routinely (99% of drivers) drive too fast? Just because it is legal for bicyclists to ride on these roads, is it a smart decision to ride on these roads given that these roads are driven by drivers who drive too fast for the conditions?

Compare with drivers who drive on snow/ice with 4wd vehicles without understanding what 4wd does and doesn't do to help them navigate these roads. It's not smart to do this, and the odds of ending up in a wreck are quite high. If you do that in a 4wd on a snowy road you are much more likely to survive the incident than if you ride a bike on a road with no shoulder where cars go to fast to safely yield to slower moving bicycles and you end up in an incident with a car. Single vehicle spin out on ice/snow is usually survivable. Bicycle vs car on (for instance) Hwy 9 or Hwy 84 is quite likely to end up with the bicyclist having serious injuries, if not immediately killed in the collusion.

Compare with the light changing at an intersection. Just because the light has changed to green doesn't mean it is SAFE to proceed. Someone coming the other way may be distracted and not notice the light changed and run the (now-red) light. They may see the light changin and decide to run it anyway. If you are the first driver waiting for the light to change you can watch the cross lights as they turn yellow, and notice the behavior of the cross traffic. Are cars slowing to stop for the red, or are they speeding up, trying to run the light? The vehicle code says you have the right-of-way when your light turns green, but that doesn't mean it is SAFE to proceed just because you have a green light. Use common sense, look at what is happening around you, and make sure that the cross traffic is slowing/stopping before you head into the intersection on a "new green" light. If you do this, you will likely avoid being T-boned by a red-light runner. If you don't, you are playing Russian Roulette. Do you feel lucky?

My point is that you have to take responsibility for your own actions and not rely on "laws" to keep you safe. It is not reasonable, or responsible to be a Pollyanna and just wish everyone else follows the law (because you know many don't - running red lights, speeding on winding roads), or wishing they would do things differently so you can "do what you want". You aren't going to change the world to suit you - and what suits your needs isn't going to suit everyone else. We all have to compromise.

In my perfect (equestrian-view) world I'd have riding trails that were for horses only - no hikers OR bikers. (I'd also have some bike-only trails too! Fair is fair!) But I know it's not going to happen - there aren't enough parks and trails to make enough bike-only and horse-only (and hiker-only) trails to suit everyone. As an equestrian I'm happy to share the trails even though it reduces the pleasure I would have by riding in peace and solitude because I know it is impossible to have it the way *I* want at the expense of what everyone else wants. I'm happy to share, as long as others recognize what I'm giving up and do their best to share as well.

Breaking the rules and laws is short sighted - you get fun today but at the expense of resentment by others and ultimately increased rules to limit your legal access to trails tomorrow. Is that really the way you want to live your life?

What I ask is that we all recognize that others are compromising so each of us can enjoy the trails in our own way. No one ever gets to have everything exactly the way you want.

jc
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
One reason I wanted to post this discussion here is to add on some new thoughts. I learned yesterday about a horse/vehicle accident near Shuqualak, Mississippi. Here's a news article about this accident.

Short version: Man driving across the US with a wagon/RV pulled by 4 draft horses is rear-ended by a semi-truck on a 4-lane divided highway. The man is in serious condition in the hospital, 2 of the horses died at the scene, the RV/wagon was totally destroyed. The other 2 horses and his dog survived and are receiving vet treatment.

This is a case of going on a road where one is "legally allowed" but it clearly isn't/wasn't a safe place to go. Horses aren't allowed on many highways (e.g. freeways, expressways) for this reason.

Do we really need to explicitly ban horses and bikes from roadways where it isn't safe to ride? Do we really need to rely on authorities to make these decisions for us, or can we just use common sense and stay off of roads were our choice of transportation (horses, bikes) is not compatible with the primary vehicles (cars and trucks) given the conditions of the road?

These are thoughts I hope everyone will consider when deciding where and how to ride your bike, and how to interact with others trying to share the same roads and trails.
 

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Big Rock Trail

[
This is a case of going on a road where one is "allowed" but it clearly isn't/wasn't a safe place to go. Horses aren't allowed on many highways (e.g. freeways, expressways) for this reason.

Do we really need to explicitly ban horses and bikes from roadways where it isn't safe to ride? Do we really need to rely on authorities to make these decisions for us, or can we just use common sense and stay off of roads were our choice of transportation (horses, bikes) is not compatible with the primary vehicles (cars and trucks) given the conditions of the road?

These are thoughts I hope everyone will consider when deciding where and how to ride your bike, and how to interact with others trying to share the same roads and trails.[/QUOTE]
Seems like we get big wide open multi-use trails due to the factors you present. I can see the point to a limited extent, but in all my experiences with the eqs, it has been an aknowledgement/expectation issue for both users. Never really have had a pesonal dangerous interaction since 1992. I lived those years in AZ so maybe the open desert was a factor. On average the singletrack there is much more rugged than NorCal with lots of exposure. All multi user trails.

I still can't quite get why trails like those in Marin through the deep low forest are not open to bikes. I can see whay maybe horses wouldn't want to ride them as they are.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
stripes said:
You should read this forum in the summertime and see how many cyclists get run over and killed or injured by motorists.
You make a very interesting point. Did you know that most of the roads where bicyclist get injured by motorists are also legal for equestrians ride or drive horses?

So now the question is, why don't you see the same amount of carnage with horse/motorists as you do with bike/motorists?
 

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jcdill said:
So now the question is, why don't you see the same amount of carnage with horse/motorists as you do with bike/motorists?
Maybe because there are a lot more road cyclists than road equestrians?

Maybe because horses are harder to "not see"? :skep:
 

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jcdill said:
The question is WHY are there more road cyclists than road equestrians?
This has to be a joke. In case that is a serious question (one of the more inane that I have read in a long time) here's the answer:

Because you don't have to have a special place to keep and feed your bike, nor do you need any special experience to ride a bike (most folks learned to ride one as a kid) and road bikes are cheap compared to a horses.

That's why there are more road cyclists than road equestrians.
 

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Cost prohibitive. Nice return (fun, little effort to go on bike ride) on investment.

Always hated the 'which came first the chicken or the egg'. They are both here lets work together.
 

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You wrote a very elegant piece about why bikes should be more respectful to horseback riders.

In my perfect (equestrian-view) world I'd have riding trails that were for horses only - no hikers OR bikers. (I'd also have some bike-only trails too! Fair is fair!) But I know it's not going to happen - there aren't enough parks and trails to make enough bike-only and horse-only (and hiker-only) trails to suit everyone. As an equestrian I'm happy to share the trails even though it reduces the pleasure I would have by riding in peace and solitude because I know it is impossible to have it the way *I* want at the expense of what everyone else wants. I'm happy to share, as long as others recognize what I'm giving up and do their best to share as well.

Breaking the rules and laws is short sighted - you get fun today but at the expense of resentment by others and ultimately increased rules to limit your legal access to trails tomorrow. Is that really the way you want to live your life?
I haven't seen one horseback rider or advocacy group stick up for bike access to any trail or park.

Frankly, this is a battle that has been going on before I came to California, and after a few first meetings with very rude horseback riders, I've willingly joined the mountain biker side, which unfortunately, is the wrong side of the trail access laws.

Ultimately, when I see actual change in the rules for trail access and more trail work from horseback riders, then I will change my attitude to horseback riders.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
sanjuro said:
I haven't seen one horseback rider or advocacy group stick up for bike access to any trail or park.
About 10 years ago I spoke up as an equestrian in favor of more bike trails in the MidPen parks. I was on the TV news that night, asking "how about some trails for horses and bikes only, closed to hikers?" to illustrate how hikers might feel about not being allowed on some trails they enjoy hiking on, which received a lot of applause by the bikers in the crowd.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
trail surgeon said:
Because you don't have to have a special place to keep and feed your bike, nor do you need any special experience to ride a bike (most folks learned to ride one as a kid) and road bikes are cheap compared to a horses.

That's why there are more road cyclists than road equestrians.
Consider Old La Honda Rd., King's Mountain Rd, Canada Rd., Southgate Dr., Skyline Rd., and Hwy 84 in Woodside. Woodside has about 5,000 people, and over 1,000 horses, yet there are at least 100 times more bikes *on the road* than horses (including horses on the paths along the roads). This is true for many other communities with a high percentage of horses. All of these bikes come from outside the community. They ride thru this horse-thick community, on narrow and steep roads, in ways that the residents feel is unsafe. It's no surprise that the residents don't feel like letting more bikes on the off-road trails!

Horse owners stay off the road (even though it is legal for them to ride on the road) because it's not safe.

Instead, they ride on trails. The bicyclists say "it's legal" and then ride on roads even where it is not safe, such as the roads listed above. Road bikers want everyone else to change how they drive on steep/narrow/shoulderless roads so that these roads are safe to ride bikes. Yet when equestrians expect mountain bikers to ride in a way to make the trails safe for equestrians (including staying off the horse-only trails, and having some horse-only parks where people can ride horses that are not comfortable around bikes), suddenly bike riders don't seem very interested in adapting how they ride to make things safe for everyone. To equestrians, bikers seem to want everything for bikes and they want everyone else (drivers, equestrians) to make it safe and easy for bike riders to ride on the roads and trails but they don't seem inclined to return the favors.

Of course, not all bike riders feel that way. But some do, and they are the ones equestrians see and talk about when they try to keep bikes off the trails.

If you want more bike access to trails you need to be mindful of this situation. Every time a road rider does something unsafe (such as insisting on riding on steep/narrow/shoulderless/winding mountain roads), it reflects on all riders in the minds of non-riders. Every time a mountain biker does something unsafe on the trails, it reflects on all riders in the minds of non-riders on the trails (hikers, equestrians). Every time a mountain biker is found on an illegal or horse/hiker only trail, it reflects on all mountain bikers. This is where all the opposition comes from at land use meetings discussing bike access on our local trails.

About 10 years ago I spoke out as an equestrian in favor of bikes at one of those land use meetings. (see my other post for more details on that)

I'm not the enemy here - I'm "one of you" - I want to see bikes have ample opportunities to ride on the local trails. But there are a few bikers who are causing great harm when they act without regard for the safety of others on the roads, on the trails. If the biking community isn't willing to stand up and say "that's not OK", then the non-biking community will think that these unsafe riders represent most riders, and act accordingly.

These things are all intertwined together in the minds of the non-biking driving/hiking/horse-riding public.
 

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" On the trails, bikes are relative newcomers, and getting access often
> requires changing long-established rules. On the roads, we have the
> legal *right* to ride, and have had it for more than a century, but some
> drivers don't see it that way."
I believe the same is true for trails, closing trails to bicycles only started to happen in the 1980's, when more bikes started to use them. Then some people who feel entitled to exclusive use of public resources, convinced land managers to close trails, the same way some drivers feel exclusive entitlement to the road.

"Even with a very well trained horse, even with a horse that knows (when it has time to think) that a bicycle poses no threat. Even if the horse doesn't spin and bolt, simply startling (which is called "shying" or "spooking" in equestrian lingo) can be enough to unseat the rider."
This just means the horse and rider need to train more, why should any "spooky" animal be allowed to use public resources. Times change, and the time of equestrians having exclusive use to most back country trails just because "they were here first" is over. I prefer equestrians take responsibility for their own safety and keep access to all trails, but if a choice has to be made between "Spooky Horses" and people on bicycles using public trails, I choose bicycles.

"Can you really blame them for coming to this conclusion?"
Of course you can. Blaming the cyclist is denying responsibility for your own actions.

"A fall from a horse is much more dangerous than a fall from a bicycle. The rider is falling from a much greater height, and due to the distance of the fall is more likely to rotate while falling, and land on their head. The rider is also at risk of being hung up in the tack (foot stuck in a stirrup, hand caught in a rein) and being drug by the panicked horse."
All the more reason to restrict them to private property.



"I'm not saying this to say "horseback riders are special" - I'm just trying to help educate mountain bikers about the risks horseback riders face on the trails so mountain bike riders can better understand why everyone needs to be careful to share the trails safely."
We would all get along better if we took the time to understand the other persons point of view.



"So, given that most cars do drive too fast for conditions on many scenic/mountain roads, why do road riders insist on putting their bodies at risk of a fatal accident by riding on roads where drivers routinely (99% of drivers) drive too fast? Just because it is legal for bicyclists to ride on these roads, is it a smart decision to ride on these roads given that these roads are driven by drivers who drive too fast for the conditions?"
So legal users should forsake a road due to illegal use? Use your cell phone and call a cop. If a sports car comes around a sharp curve and rear-ends a farmer on his tractor, does this mean the farmer should not have been there? I ride motorcycles on the road more than I drive, the number one cause of motorcycle fatalities is drivers not seeing the bike and hitting them. Should I give up motorcycles, or just accept that my choices have consequences?


"The vehicle code says you have the right-of-way when your light turns green, but that doesn't mean it is SAFE to proceed just because you have a green light."
No, it does not. Any time you stop, you can only proceed when it is safe to do so. If someone is still in the intersection, even though you have a green light, you must yield to them.

"My point is that you have to take responsibility for your own actions and not rely on "laws" to keep you safe. We all have to compromise."
Amen to that.
 

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Mountain bikers and equestrian partnerships do work

sanjuro said:
I haven't seen one horseback rider or advocacy group stick up for bike access to any trail or park.
...
Ultimately, when I see actual change in the rules for trail access and more trail work from horseback riders, then I will change my attitude to horseback riders.
The SCCHA in Santa Cruz has been a supporter of mountain biking and shared use trails for well over a decade. The partnership between SCCHA and MBOSC was instrumental in getting the U-con trail opened and the acquisition and opening of Gray Whale property now part of Wilder Ranch.

It is true that I have rarely seen equestrians participate in trail work. However, when you consider the ratio of mountain bikers to equestrians then it's not so out of whack.
 

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I have enjoyed reading your thoughtful posts on this topic.

jcdill said:
I'm not saying this to say "horseback riders are special" - I'm just trying to help educate mountain bikers about the risks horseback riders face on the trails so mountain bike riders can better understand why everyone needs to be careful to share the trails safely.
...
In my perfect (equestrian-view) world I'd have riding trails that were for horses only - no hikers OR bikers. (I'd also have some bike-only trails too! Fair is fair!) But I know it's not going to happen - there aren't enough parks and trails to make enough bike-only and horse-only (and hiker-only) trails to suit everyone. As an equestrian I'm happy to share the trails even though it reduces the pleasure I would have by riding in peace and solitude because I know it is impossible to have it the way *I* want at the expense of what everyone else wants. I'm happy to share, as long as others recognize what I'm giving up and do their best to share as well.
Just a couple of points...

MBOSC and SCCHA has held a "Carrotfest" over the years as an attempt to bring mountain bikers and equestrians together to get a better understanding of each other and share in the common good of enjoying the trails with our favorite steeds.

This year we will hold Carrotfest at the Graham Hill show grounds on May 3rd. Here are reports from past Carrotfests.

http://mbosc.blogspot.com/search/label/carrot fest

I'm also an advocate for multi-use trails but I'm beginning to like the idea of "odd-even" days as a way for mountain bikers to get access to shared trails and to mitigate the concerns of other trail users. Currently, mountain bikers are banned from a lot of trails that are open to hikers and equestrians and it's not a fair access policy. As tax payers and citizens we have a right to enjoy public resources provided we use it in an environmentally sustainable manner and ensure public safety. We have answers for the concerns about environmental impact though good trail design yet there are no easy answers for trail conflict.

The only real solution for shared use is by having bikes (and perhaps hikers and equestrians) have access on alternate days. The Tahoe Rim Trail from Mt. Rose to Tunnel creek is a great model and it's been quite successful. Mountain bikers are willing to wait a day for access and can plan their rides. If an odd-even policy was well known then hikers and equestrians may make a decision not to ride when a mountain bikers are on the trails.

In a region, it would be ideal to stagger odd-even access so that bikers have a place to ride every day. Arguably this could result in more crowding but ultimately more open space options could be opened once trail conflict is off the table.

Any anti-bike advocate who cannot agree to an odd-even access policy where the trails can be shared should be portrayed as a zealot (Mike Vandeman comes to mind) who doesn't want to share.
 

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Equestrians make up less than 1% of all trail users. There is 1 equestrian for every 30+ MTBers, yet they have more access to the trails than we do. The good thing is that their number is dwindling so that overtime, their undue influence over the park districts will diminish considerably.
 

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zorg said:
Equestrians make up less than 1% of all trail users. There is 1 equestrian for every 30+ MTBers, yet they have more access to the trails than we do. The good thing is that their number is dwindling so that overtime, their undue influence over the park districts will diminish considerably.
their numbers are dwindling and ours are rising!
sweet!it's just a matter of time before it's only us and the hikers.....and those dogs.
 

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jcdill said:
All of these bikes come from outside the community. They ride thru this horse-thick community, on narrow and steep roads, in ways that the residents feel is unsafe. It's no surprise that the residents don't feel like letting more bikes on the off-road trails!
So because some residents of those communities feel that people riding bikes legally on the road are "unsafe" (from outside their community no less!) that is a legitimate justification for preventing folks from riding off-road? Is that what you meant to post?

jcdill said:
Horse owners stay off the road (even though it is legal for them to ride on the road) because it's not safe.
Do you think it is safe to ride a bike on the road?

jcdill said:
The bicyclists say "it's legal" and then ride on roads even where it is not safe, such as the roads listed above.
Just because you think it is unsafe does not mean that it is unsafe.

jcdill said:
Road bikers want everyone else to change how they drive on steep/narrow/shoulderless roads so that these roads are safe to ride bikes.
It's called the law. Why are you disparaging cyclists who have the legal right to ride on the road as if they are at fault?

It seems that you are woefully uninformed about riding a bike on the road.

jcdill said:
Yet when equestrians expect mountain bikers to ride in a way to make the trails safe for equestrians (including staying off the horse-only trails, and having some horse-only parks where people can ride horses that are not comfortable around bikes), suddenly bike riders don't seem very interested in adapting how they ride to make things safe for everyone.
What do you base this assertion upon? This sounds like more unfounded hysteria.

jcdill said:
To equestrians, bikers seem to want everything for bikes and they want everyone else (drivers, equestrians) to make it safe and easy for bike riders to ride on the roads
You're going to have to come to grips with the simple fact that it's the law. Cyclists have a legal right to ride on the road. Even steep roads. Even winding roads. Even roads without shoulders.

jcdill said:
Every time a road rider does something unsafe (such as insisting on riding on steep/narrow/shoulderless/winding mountain roads), it reflects on all riders in the minds of non-riders.
The depth of your ignorance about the rights of cyclists to ride on the road and your lack of understanding of the relative risks of riding a bike on the road vs. driving a car, crossing the street, etc. boggles the mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
trail surgeon said:
Do you think it is safe to ride a bike on the road?

It seems that you are woefully uninformed about riding a bike on the road.

You're going to have to come to grips with the simple fact that it's the law. Cyclists have a legal right to ride on the road. Even steep roads. Even winding roads. Even roads without shoulders.

The depth of your ignorance about the rights of cyclists to ride on the road and your lack of understanding of the relative risks of riding a bike on the road vs. driving a car, crossing the street, etc. boggles the mind.
You are making a lot of unfounded assumptions here. Here's some food for thought:

1) My father rode his 3-speed bike from Santa Monica to Vancouver Canada, in 1958.

2) I rode my bike extensively to/from school until 8th grade (when we moved too far from the school and I had to take the bus.

3) We lived in Carmel Highlands in the 70s and had hundreds (or thousands) of bicyclists camp at our home over the years because of the lack of public campgrounds between Watsonville and Big Sur. My father also regularly rode his bike from the house to his office in Monterey.

4) I have very close relatives who own a bike shop.

5) I currently ride a bicycle 3-5 times a week, on the trails, on bike paths, and on the road.

Clearly I am not ignorant of the rights of bicyclists.

I believe that if bicyclists want increased support from the non-bike riding public, bicyclists need to use better judgement about when and where to ride. (I also feel the same way about equestrians, see my 2nd post above, about the wagon driver who was legally driving on a 4-lane divided highway.) Just because it's "legal" does not mean it is safe or wise to take a bicycle or horse on any given roadway.

You are either part of the problem or part of the solution. Which side do you want to be on? Do you want to be one of the bike riders who shows good judgement, who only advocates bike riding on roads and trails where it is safe, and who the non-bike-riding public will admire and trust for your decision making and consider letting yourself (and others like you) have access to more trails?
 

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Admiration and trust is a two-way street

and in the end, and this is the main point of contention, cyclists are the ones who end up being shoved aside where access is concerned. Boorish and poorly considered behavior finds its expression often in hikers, dog walkers, and equestrians.

The content and tenor of jcdill's contribution to this discussion is measured and experienced and most welcome. However, I find it imbued with what is classically the problem with equestrians, that is, their desensitization to the effect of these animals on the rest of trail users. Proximity to these animals, and the immersion in its consequent culture, preclude any question of whether the presence of these animals is even appropriate in the first place given how the greater society expects to use trails in modern times. Fundamental to this entire access issue is allowing horses, large and questionably controlled animals prone to eruptive reactions to the most curious things, to control access to off-road usage.

I have a little excerpt, edited for brevity, from the Tilden-Wildcat Horsemen's Association I would like to share:
"In about 1973 enmity arose between some members of EBRPD staff and horsemen. The horse trough in Tilden Park suddenly vanished and then overnight a number of "No Horse" signs appeared throughout our parks. It seemed as if riders and horses were being accused of pushing hikers off trails, cutting up trails in wet weather, roping park signs to pull them down, crowding children off nature trails, eating native plants, galloping over lawns and swimming in Lake Anza! If this was true it certainly was not compatible trail use.
An open hearing was called by a park staffer and was attended by several hundred horsemen. Heber Brown, a well known horseman and Oakland lawyer who had riden the East Bay hills since he came here in 1928, acted as spokesman and argued that 90% of the trails in Tilden had been closed to horses and illustrated his point with the district’s own maps. As he said, "We’re not interested in being shoved through the parks on main trails as though it were only a matter of getting from point A to point B. We want to get off the beaten track and enjoy the whole park experience.” As a result of this meeting all trails were thrown open to horses and all "No Horse” signs removed."

None of the anecdotal challenging behavior sustained THEIR exclusion. Must be nice.:rolleyes:

I was watching a PBS program on retracing the route of an early Spanish explorer, Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, from what is now Galveston Texas to Culiacan on the Central Mexico Coast of the Gulf of California in 1528. The narrator and his party did this entire trip on horseback and the scenes of this group in remote areas of varied terrain and climate were romantic and the function of the horse became very clear. Further the personal bond between animal and master, the symbiotic compatibility, and the apparent practicality of this relationship in this context was nicely demonstrated. Flash forward to 2009 and cram them into the remnants of vast open spaces, proximate to what is arguably one of the most dynamic human populations in the world, and give these ruminant former beasts of burden who naturally exist in the plains, the power to dictate the style of access to slender recreational trails. That is the tail wagging the dog.

Somehow the prevalent cultural disposition is to allow this: the warm and fuzzy muzzling horsie and it's devoted affectionate master vs. the insane careening adrenaline junkie on the nature shredding contraption from hell. Tell me I'm wrong. Go ahead.:confused:

Clearly mtb behavior can be thoughtless but equestrians, hikers, and dog walkers are hardly saints. Further the normative behavior of horses, previously presumed as acceptable, can be challenged. Advocacy is starting to create inroads into this arcane domination by trails users who just don't want to share and bludgeon land managers with mythic tales of mtb miscreants. At the State level trail access is starting to be determined by habitat and geology without the influence of special user groups. Through strict adherence to CEQUA guidelines, traffic input, and concern for sustainability, these changes will be able to resist lawsuits and legal challenges, the prime weapons of eco-zealots and Horse groups. In the face of a desire to improve quality access for all users, to recreate sustainable trails, and the moribund nature of the equestrian experience in urban proximities, this equestrian domination will ultimately crumble.

Horse groups are digging their own grave. They are, more and more, seen as inflexible, selfish, presumptuous, and privileged. They are existing on the receding edge of a way of life and their marketplaces are diminishing. Their domination has become untenable. Sharing in a society is fundamental to co-existence. Admiration and trust is a two-way street.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
You can't have it both ways.

Berkeley Mike said:
The content and tenor of jcdill's contribution to this discussion is measured and experienced and most welcome.
Thank you!

However, I find it imbued with what is classically the problem with equestrians, that is, their desensitization to the effect of these animals on the rest of trail users. Proximity to these animals, and the immersion in its consequent culture, preclude any question of whether the presence of these animals is even appropriate in the first place given how the greater society expects to use trails in modern times.
I think you are missing my point. The "greater society" expects to use mountain roads (such as the roads in Woodside I listed above) in modern times in ways that are incompatible with road bikes riding on these roads. Yet, suddenly when the question is framed THAT way bikers scream "we have the right to ride on these roads, you can't take that right away". You want to appeal to "the greater society" to gain access to trails where horses have long been allowed, and yet you reject "the greater society's" opinion about bikes on mountain roads where bikes have long been allowed. Bikers want it both ways, and "the greater society" recognizes the hypocrisy in this attitude.

Fundamental to this entire access issue is allowing horses, large and questionably controlled animals prone to eruptive reactions to the most curious things, to control access to off-road usage.
Horse riders aren't alone in wanting peaceful trails. Most hikers want peaceful trails too. Horse interests and hiker interests are closely aligned, and not in good alignment with mountain biker interests. This is why hikers and equestrians "join forces" as it were when the question of bike access comes up. Both groups see bikes as "out of place" in their peaceful enjoyment of the wilderness of our parks, due to the attitude I mentioned above.

Somehow the prevalent cultural disposition is to allow this: the warm and fuzzy muzzling horsie and it's devoted affectionate master vs. the insane careening adrenaline junkie on the nature shredding contraption from hell. Tell me I'm wrong. Go ahead.:confused:
No, you are not wrong. So, what can YOU do to change this perception? How can you change how bikes are perceived by "the greater society"?

Clearly mtb behavior can be thoughtless but equestrians, hikers, and dog walkers are hardly saints. Further the normative behavior of horses, previously presumed as acceptable, can be challenged.
So can the normative behavior of bicyclists. If you want to reframe it as "horses are no longer suitable to be allowed on shared trails" are you willing to accept "road bikes are no longer suitable to be allowed on winding mountain roads with no shoulder"?

This idea that you can change the rules may not go in your favor - you may lose on both fronts (horses still allowed on trails, bikes banned from mountain roads).

Advocacy is starting to create inroads into this arcane domination by trails users who just don't want to share and bludgeon land managers with mythic tales of mtb miscreants.
Equestrians don't just make up stories about bikes because they don't "like" bikes. Many of them ride bikes as well! Many of them have friends or spouses or children who ride bikes. They have no desire or reason to want to keep bikes off the trails if the bikes weren't actually causing problems!

The speed limits in the MidPen open space didn't come about because bike riders were riding fast but no one saw or cared or was affected. The speed limits (and radar guns and tickets) came about because fast riding negatively affected others safety and enjoyment of the trails. It became a problem for other users, and this was how the land managers decided to deal with the problem.

Horse groups are digging their own grave. They are, more and more, seen as inflexible, selfish, presumptuous, and privileged.
Really? Because most of the hikers I know don't see it that way at all. The hikers are the largest and most vocal group of trail users (and the largest group to show up for trail work). If you ask hikers which users they want to share the trails with, horses or bikes, they almost always side with the horses.

They are existing on the receding edge of a way of life and their marketplaces are diminishing. Their domination has become untenable. Sharing in a society is fundamental to co-existence. Admiration and trust is a two-way street.
I don't see a lot of "here's how we can effectively share the trails" in your post. I don't see much admiration or trust either. I'm a bit baffled as to how you see this as a two-way street when you aren't doing your part to show admiration or trust to others. I've been doing my part to show how equestrians and bikes can co-exist, but you don't appear to want to co-exist - you want no equestrians on the trails at all. Yet you are outraged that equestrians seek to keep you off the trails? Why should they welcome you with open arms if your goal is to push them out? Think about that....
 
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