Who's Riding Bicycles?
Roughly 30% of the Western population rides their bicycles off pavement each year. There are more mountain biking trips each year (900 million) than hiking trips (844 million). Yes, that's right -- nationwide, our trails see more people on bicycles than on foot!
Contrary to stereotypes, 55% of trail bicyclists have children under 18. They are over twice as likely to be Black, and half again as likely to be Hispanic, than hikers.
(Click here for the statistics and demographics.)
There are substantially more trail bicyclists than golfers, and they outnumber California equestrians by at least 33:1 (and probably much more, since 80% of horse owners live in towns of under 50,000 people.)
(Multi-use trails in Annadel State Park and Joaquin Miller Park, City of Oakland).
EBRPD: Supporting Recreational Segregation Since 1988
The EBRPD runs two golf courses, a water park, and for the tiny minority of horse riders, they provide boarding barns, special campsites, trailer parking, riding arenas, day camps, and trail rides. Yet the EBRPD bans people on bicycles from over 85% of its trails, limiting them to roads made for 3-ton trucks (and sometimes not even then).
They even use bicyclists as scapegoats for their own mistakes!
Why is this? Even according to the EBRPD's own survey, people on bicycles are their second largest group of parks users -- larger than dog walkers. Why are they so intent on keeping the public out of public lands?
Bicyclists Are Environmentalists
Trail bicyclists value and enjoy our parks and open space for the same reasons everyone else does. In fact, since a person can travel much farther on a bicycle than on foot (much like a person on horseback), trail bicyclists value large preserves and connected trail networks even more than most hikers!
Because people on bicycles can travel farther -- beyond the popular hiking spots like Redwood, the trails around Lake Chabot, and Tilden Nature Area -- bicyclists see the ugly parts of the East Bay Regional Parks District's land that they'd rather you not know about. (Click here to see stunning photographic reports from places like Chabot, Redwood, Mission Peak, and Pleasanton Ridge.)
EBRPD and the Sierra Club: Chasing The Red Herring
Multiple controlled studies prove that people on bicycles have similar trail and wildlife impact as people on foot, and less than people on horses. Claims to the contrary are simply false. The New Zealand Department of Conservation concludes the following:
"Although mountain bikes clearly do have physical impacts on tracks, these did not appear to be of any greater significance than those from other track users, despite the general perception to the contrary. And, although safety concerns were also commonly highlighted, the problem related more to apprehension about what might happen rather than concern based on any inherent danger, or an established record of incidents."
Click here to read a solid overview of the scientific literature, with references. Any parks agency should be familiar with these papers and their conclusions, but the EBRPD remains willfully ignorant.
Some horse owners fear people on bicycles. As stated above, the fear has no basis in reality, though equestrian fears of off-leash dogs, and bicyclists' and hikers' fears of being trampled by a horse, are real.
Bicycles: The Solution, Not The Problem
- Children need outdoor exercise, and it's dangerous to ride on the street where they can be run over. Shouldn't we be able to enjoy a day in the park with them?
- As we age, we accumulate injuries and arthritis, and many of us can't hike mile after mile like we used to. Bicycles let us continue to enjoy our parks and open space, even with bad knees and hips.
- Those of us with kids don't have all weekend, or even all day, to go on hiking trips. Wouldn't it be great to see more than the edges of our public parks and open space?
Seriously: a bunch of "environmentalists" claiming that people on bicycles are the problem? 1000 miles of dirt roads and over 5,000 cattle in our parks is the problem. Bicycles are the solution. Until the EBRPD acknowledges this, and stops treating its cattle better than its second-largest group of users, we must oppose giving it another $500 million to continue defying common sense.
End Recreational Segregation!