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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
Your support for NorCal, specifically my El Cerrito Team, goes back to 2004, well before the gleam in your eye. It is huge to see you still here. Huge props.
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
What these Trails Provide Cyclists

In this local's lifetime finding my Keds at the top of Shell Ridge or my hiking boots dodging a rattlesnake rustling through the dry Spanish oats above Happy Valley with the smell of sage in August mark my experience. I could never leave this place; believe me, I've tried. This is my home.

What EBMUD access provides is immersion in the rolling hills and quiet paces of our little portion of the Pacific tectonic ridge. The Bay, Buckeye and Oak appointing the machined roads and animal trails of our local haunts spell an emergent relief from computer screens and bumper-to-bumper life. That a quick change of clothing, some air in the tires, and a little lube on the chain sets the stage for promise. An hour of climbing to the ridge-top to achieve Pacific breezes that whistle through old barbed wire and coyote brush is beyond hope and yet right outside one's door.

Access provides epic point-to-point rides encompassing volumes called Franklin Canyon or Briones or Las Trampas from the Great Valley to the mud flats of the eastern San Francisco Bay in a way never imagined by Highway 24 or 680.

It means going from here to there in your mind, emerging from the plane of Concord on a trail that winds up alongside the hill and disappears. And that you could get from here to there on something besides an asphalt road holds a very certain charm.

Access creates safe routes, alternatives to rush-hour asphalt on fast thoroughfares. It presents alternatives to buses and cars between homes and occupations.

Access provides connections and continuity from one open space to another embracing traditions that span thousands of aboriginal years for the Ohlone. It evokes our contact with the land and defines its value.

Access unblocks communications of an emergent Ridge Trail vision around the San Francisco Bay area, one of the greatest estuary systems in the world. It provides the opportunity to experience this natural wonder from infinite perspectives unique and at once surprising amidst a population of 8 million.

It creates opportunities for our young naturalists, our teen athletes, our young men and women, to experience some of the greatest land in the world from a discovered regard. It redefines what is "home" through their own connections, and gives us measure for greatness and value as they experience the world. It binds our youth to us, even as they move away from us, to bring them back with their children in hand.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 · (Edited)
The Function of Horror

Mountain biking is a relatively new experience in the natural venue. Traditional usage of open spaces by hikers and equestrians contain the benefit of thousands of years of usage and deep cultural value. In the late 70s and early 80s the emergence of mountain biking was simply associated with motorcycles by many who could understand it in no other way. Fair enough; no one knew anything for certain.

The fresh and unqualified interaction with mountain bikes suggested danger and further that mountain bikers were characterologically indifferent to users who seemed more predisposed to value the natural setting. Equestrians and hikers argued, successfully, that mountain bikers were an intrusion and a disturbance to a traditional natural experience as they defined and embodied it.

The suggestion of dangerous intrusive machines and thoughtless riders resonated deeply, and obscured issues of fair access. It is in that context of fear that mountain bikes were deflected away from access to open spaces. These suggestions hold sway to this day and underpin the political power of these oft-repeated horror stories about mountain bikers; these are the tools for the control of open space.

In the 40 years the developing mountain biking culture holds a substantial place with the rest of society and are the second largest user group of open spaces. Mountain bikers are parents, homeowners, business owners, doctors, lawyers, and Indian chiefs. We occupy positions with all the open space agencies, civic groups, schools, and neighborhood councils. Yet we have always been at the heart of society.

The accumulation of 40 years of data concerning the actual behavior of mountain bikers and their impact on other trail users confronts the old resonant horror stories and assumptions. The 2012 California State Parks Trail Use and Conflict Study concludes that the majority of literature does not provide empirical data regarding the presence, extent, or attributes of user conflict or incidents. Further they determined there is a low incidence of accidents or injuries compared to the extent of perceived conflict and complaints about conflict.

I have a 2011 East Bay Regional Park District response to a complaint about mountain bikers that the incidence of such events was regrettable but very rare in their 1000 miles of trails. In the 2012 EBRPD Master Plan mountain bikers were embraced as a part of their Healthy Parks Healthy People initiative and new policies were invoked to promote increased access and the creation of trails to serve this valued community.

Insurance data shows that horseback riding danger is estimated to be the same as that for motorcyclists accounting for over 100 deaths and 80,000 emergency room visits per year. What this says is that the old accusations are shown to be false. Yet they still resonate and the stories are repeated well beyond their statistical value.
 

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Discussion Starter · #27 ·
The BTC Meetup shows 17 attending and I know of 4 more. We will also have folks from Bike East Bay, REI, NorCal/NICA.

I have prepared handouts of our arguments and my biermeister will locate post-event location.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
Tonight's meeting had about 100 people in attendance, including 4 staff and 3 directors. Approximately 70 of the people who came were mountain bikers. Very significantly we had about 20 to 25 people from the NorCal teams from Oakland composite, Berkeley high school, and Albany high school in attendance.

There were 12 people directly involved with BTC and the remainder were mountain bikers I had seen at a variety of events and several I knew from nowhere.

The meeting was introduced in terms of a Watershed Master Plan that had to consider sensitive species, maintaining environments, managing forests, and all that EBMUD stuff. They approached issues concerning opening recreational access very cautiously. Marguerite Young, whose son is on the Oakland composite team, appealed to everyone to speak to their interests as opposed to creating contentious interaction. This was the letter of the day and set the tone for the meeting.

A total of approximately 45 people spoke. The Sierra Club came out very quickly against making any changes at all through Stormin' Norman Laforce. If it weren't for the fact that we needed to listen respectfully and smile we would have laughed him off the stage. He is thoroughly ridiculous. The lady that followed him from the Sierra Club, a former director of EBMUD, Ms.Burke, was equally ridiculous. They have no idea at all.

By and large even the people who would not have supported access to cycling suggested that absolute closure was unreasonable. They were simply concerned against all of the usual horror stories about mountain bikers, the need for enforcement, and the challenges that these created. I think that these were all fair criticisms.

Mary Selkirk, a former director who voted to exclude mountain bikers in 1996, spoke of regretting her decision as patently unfair. This was huge. She had real gravitas.

However the greatest proportion of people who spoke suggested the value of mountain biking especially in terms of generating good health and good trail use practices in our youth. The contact with nature and our tendency to be stewards, the need for unblocking closures that inhibit the entirety of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. People spoke in terms of hoping for flexibility and the potentials for evaluating as things unfolded.

There were a few people who were very concerned about the dangers that mountain bikers bring to particularly narrow sections of trail. That however fit in considerations that many people expressed about the challenges of confrontation on narrow trails. Again, very reasonable concerns. I love our mountain bikers but, yeah, they can be total meatheads when it's all about their ride. Come on. Deny it. That said BTC Prez Mike Udkow did confront the thinking that paints all mountain bikers with the same brush.

At the end of the meeting we spoke with a number of the staff and directors and other people in the room and people were pretty please about the openness and the sharing that occurred. Some of us are nutty as a fruitcake and as clueless as can be but still we did very well.

I came away from this meeting changing my sense that we had a 60% chance of some success to 65%.

I will wait until next week to touch bases with people at EBMUD to give them time to process things both between their ears and amongst each other. However, I could not be more pleased with our presence, what we said, and the ambient support in the room for some sort of opening.
 

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I'm really diggin it!
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Tonight's meeting had about 100 people in attendance, including 4 staff and 3 directors. Approximately 70 of the people who came were mountain bikers. Very significantly we had about 20 to 25 people from the NorCal teams from Oakland composite, Berkeley high school, and Albany high school in attendance.

There were 12 people directly involved with BTC and the remainder were mountain bikers I had seen at a variety of events and several I knew from nowhere.

The meeting was introduced in terms of a Watershed Master Plan that had to consider sensitive species, maintaining environments, managing forests, and all that EBMUD stuff. They approached issues concerning opening recreational access very cautiously. Marguerite Young, whose son is on the Oakland composite team, appealed to everyone to speak to their interests as opposed to creating contentious interaction. This was the letter of the day and set the tone for the meeting.

A total of approximately 45 people spoke. The Sierra Club came out very quickly against making any changes at all through Stormin' Norman Laforce. If it weren't for the fact that we needed to listen respectfully and smile we would have laughed him off the stage. He is thoroughly ridiculous. The lady that followed him from the Sierra Club, a former director of EBMUD, Ms.Burke, was equally ridiculous. They have no idea at all.

By and large even the people who would not have supported access to cycling suggested that absolute closure was unreasonable. They were simply concerned against all of the usual horror stories about mountain bikers, the need for enforcement, and the challenges that these created. I think that these were all fair criticisms.

Mary Selkirk, a former director who voted to exclude mountain bikers in 1996, spoke of regretting her decision as patently unfair. This was huge. She had real gravitas.

However the greatest proportion of people who spoke suggested the value of mountain biking especially in terms of generating good health and good trail use practices in our youth. The contact with nature and our tendency to be stewards, the need for unblocking closures that inhibit the entirety of the Bay Area Ridge Trail. People spoke in terms of hoping for flexibility and the potentials for evaluating as things unfolded.

There were a few people who were very concerned about the dangers that mountain bikers bring to particularly narrow sections of trail. That however fit in considerations that many people expressed about the challenges of confrontation on narrow trails. Again, very reasonable concerns. I love our mountain bikers but, yeah, they can be total meatheads when it's all about their ride. Come on. Deny it. That said BTC Prez Mike Udkow did confront the thinking that paints all mountain bikers with the same brush.

At the end of the meeting we spoke with a number of the staff and directors and other people in the room and people were pretty please about the openness and the sharing that occurred. Some of us are nutty as a fruitcake and as clueless as can be but still we did very well.

I came away from this meeting changing my sense that we had a 60% chance of some success to 65%.

I will wait until next week to touch bases with people at EBMUD to give them time to process things both between their ears and amongst each other. However, I could not be more pleased with our presence, what we said, and the ambient support in the room for some sort of opening.
Thank you very much Sir. I really appreciate you efforts and it is quite funny to hear about the Sierra Club speaking out against the national policy that they all agree to:

Off Road Use of Bicycles | Sierra Club

I know that these things can go either way but I will try and donate to the BTCEB again in the future. Again, I really appreciate the effort.

Thank you Mike!!!
 

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J-Flo
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Mike, thanks again for alerting us all to this meeting. I think you played a major role in starting the effort that led to such a strong turnout. I'm glad I was able to come and speak.

The three Board members present, including John Coleman (a director since 1990, who expressed both openness to change and skepticism about safety concerns) were quite attentive as were the senior watershed staff members present. There was an inevitability of change in the air. Although the form and length of time it will take are not clear, change for the better is coming.
 

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Paper or plastic?
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A lot if it is just politics. Having a great turn out should help. Those people are elected after all. Thanks to all that showed up.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
 

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Thanks to you Mike and those that attended. Do you know if the Draft Watershed Mgmt Plan available for public consumption?
 

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Natty Dread
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It was cool to witness the pro bike access crowd applause being by far the loudest in attendance. It was also cool to hear the EBMUD board say this was the most public participation they had seen at a meeting. While I didn't speak was happy to be a part of the overwhelming presence of pro bike access folks at this meeting. That show of support cannot be ignored.
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
The process has never been clear. As such, what we needed to do at the meeting was simply represent. Some spoke, others were there to witness and support. And thanks to all who wrote letters.

It's all about showing up.

We're not done yet.

Stay tuned...
 

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Hoolie Ghoulie on Strava.
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One thing I noticed while speaking, was how bored, the board looked. I think I was able to keep comments under one minute, tried to keep it positive. This was the first meeting I have gone to, and using MTBR to alert us, is what works best for me, as I have no FACEBOOK acct. if you have not gone to a meeting, it really makes you appreciate how much people like Berkeley Mike, and all the others, have done. Interesting, but sort of boring, and not so easy if you work full time, commute, family obligations, etc. I really applaud the work you people have done. So GO TO A MEETING. Just do it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Actually they are just listening to a lot while trying not to influence what is being said. It is tedious. They are not filled with the adrenaline we have driving us to the preoccupation of being meaningful. They are waiting for message so they can understand. Not all directors are like that but the 3 we drew are pretty sound.

I found myself not wanting to applaud so as not to influence understanding. I greeted people, thanked them, handed out my papers and stuff, met new folks.

I have found myself not looking so much for people who are pro-mtb but people who are clear thinkers and level-headed. That is where our power comes from.

You sat through all of the evening. Thanks for that. But what you saw was that sincerity, not histrionics, carry the day.

It is all in how we manage our differences.

I can't tell you how many I know who won't come here to participate. They don't think it represents them or people are just too mean. They don't want to have to deal with the mtbr thing. And there is a thing.

Yet there is a love of our sport here. And you can't ignore that. But our vigor and how we manage that is illusive. And how do we share such an understanding with folks who have no idea what we are about?

So we look for people who will listen.

What they heard is our desire and respect. What they heard is that folks had concerns for how we behave. They also heard that many of those folks believed that a total ban is not their preference.

One of the Directors was disappointed that Stormin' Norman of the Sierra Club did not stay to listen. An important part of the Directors message, intended or not, is that EMBUD is concerned for the folks who use the lands by foot or hoof. I think she saw how possible our access could be but that there are so many folks who will be very wary or disappointed. It is a precious thing. Had they been here they might have been able to decide for themselves.

So the event was confounding in its demands of folks who spend their days guaranteeing lifetimes of good water and husbanding the faith of the folks who use the lands now, rightly or wrongly.

This is all hard for a reason. So what looks "board" is simply an abiding patience, duty, thinking, and feeling.
 

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Paper or plastic?
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The process is so slow that it weeds out most advocates. Secret is to enjoy what we have now while working on the future. Thanks Mike and others.

Sent from my Nexus 5 using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #40 ·
Our biggest challenge is to allay the fears of the current users. One nasty story gets passed around and it is used to represent us. I suggested the problem of this view to a Director and he said that I was probably one of those really courteous riders and he wasn't talking about me. It got under my skin in a funny way.

And it finally occurred to me that he was willing to dismiss me and my behavior as representative of the mtb community and, instead, use worst cases to identify us. That fit his picture of who we were.

That I have been on the dirt and working with the community for 30 years is just swept aside so the internal picture doesn't change...

You can love me or hate me, but I will not be dismissed.
 
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