Archive for the ‘Los Angeles’ Category

President’s Message: A Look Back at 2014

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

As we prepare to ring in the new year, it’s a good time to reflect on what has happened over the past twelve months. Here’s a quick recap of CORBA’s most significant efforts of 2014.

strawberry peak trail crew Volunteers, February 16, 2014

Volunteers, February 16, 2014

Trailwork:  One of our biggest accomplishments in 2014 was the restoration of the Strawberry Peak Loop in spring, and the subsequent opening of the trail by the Forest Service on May 28. This much-loved trail was the focus of CORBA, The Sierra Club, and the Los Angeles Conservation Corps as we coordinated efforts to get the trail ready for opening. We were aided by a grant from REI which allowed us to bring in a professional trailbuilder for much of the heavier work. The restoration included a short re-route of one section of the trail that had always been troublesome.  Another planned re-route of the northern end of the Strawberry Peak trail through to Colby ranch is currently in the NEPA process, but the main Strawberry Peak loop used by cyclists is open and has been enjoyed all summer and fall. We also helped restore trails damaged in the Springs fire in Point Mugu State Park, worked on the Backbone trail, and our adopted Los Robles trail. For 2015 we are enlisting some new trail crew leaders, as we look to expand our trailwork activities.

 

CORBA's Youth Adventures

CORBA’s Youth Adventures

Youth Programs:  In 2014 our Youth Adventures program continued in full swing, with Mountain Bike Unit (MBU) volunteers taking at-risk youth out on the trails throughout the year.  We added another special event to our calendar, the Santa Monica Mountains Rec Fest, during which we put more than 200 kids on bikes at Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Rec Fest was a great addition to the calendar, and we are hoping that funding can be found to repeat the event. In 2014 our Kids Club program was picked up by Carl Kolvenbach who is leading these monthly social rides for kids and their parents.

 

Skills Clinics: For the first Saturday of every month this year, and the past twenty years, we conducted our free Introduction to Mountain Biking Skills Clinics at Malibu Creek State Park. Hundreds of people learned basic skills at our free clinics this year. This free service will continue through 2015 and beyond.

 

Fillmore Bike Park Jump Line

Fillmore Bike Park Jump Line

Bike Parks:  Fillmore Bike Park construction is well underway. We worked with local advocates from Ride Heritage Valley and the City of Fillmore to bring a new bike park to the town. Construction began in the fall and is ongoing. The park will be opened to the public in 2015, a great asset to the local community.  In Thousand Oaks the plans for Sapwi Trails Community Park are in their final steps to approval. The plans include a pump track and dirt jumps for bikes, along with multi-use trails. We’re excited to see this facility approved and look forward to its construction. We still have pending proposals before L.A. County, and we hope to see continued progress on those proposals in the new year.

 

National Forest Management Plans:  2014 also saw the completion of the four SoCal National Forests Land Management Plan Amendments. During this five-year process we engaged with the Forest Service on the re-examination of their land management plans. The Forest Service was sued for not providing adequate protections for threatened and endangered species, and the settlement agreement had the Forest Service reassess areas of the four Forests for increased protections. The outcome of that process was the proposed Fish Canyon Recommended Wilderness. We filed a formal objection to the RW, as it would close three long-distance backcountry trails to bikes. Though these were not popular trails and hardly saw any use over the past several years, they are still a loss of opportunity to the mountain biking community. The final record of decision was a happy compromise: We now have a recommended wilderness area, but the trails will remain open to bikes until such time as a forest order is issued to specifically close the trails to bicycles.

President Obama signs the proclamation of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

President Obama signs the proclamation

National Monument: One of the biggest surprises of the year was the announcement and soon thereafter, the proclamation of the new San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. While we were all taken by surprise with this announcement, the outcome, our new National Monument, will help the Forest Service attract more resources to the area and bring more attention to our beloved mountains. CORBA will be actively participating in the development of the Management Plan for the National Monument, both as a part of the NEPA process, and as a part of a collaborative group brought together by the National Forest Foundation to ensure as much public engagement as possible in that process.

 

 

Bell boxes contain bells   which are free to all users. Please use a bell!

Bell boxes contain bells which are free to all users. Please use a bell!

Trail Safety: Over this past year CORBA engaged with the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council to strategize on trail safety. We developed an educational trail etiquette brochure, which is now being distributed throughout the area. The brochure has been very well-received. In 2015 we will expand upon those efforts by developing a companion trail etiquette web site. We have received a grant from the Trails and Greenways Foundation to achieve this goal. CORBA has also implemented a bell program in the Conejo Valley, and we now have several different style bells available for purchase.

 

CORBA Board: In 2014 we welcomed Wendy Engelberg to our board of directors, and the bundle of energy and enthusiasm she brings. Steve Messer took over from Mark Langton as board President, while Jennifer Klausner completed her final year as Executive Director of the LA County Bicycle Coalition. We have open seats on our board and welcome any inquiries or nominations.

 

A few losses: We lost our battle with State Parks over the revision of the California Code of Regulations pertaining to trail use in State Parks. While a win would have changed nothing with regards to existing trails, we felt the language we proposed was more welcoming to all trail users and a better regulation for new trails. State Parks leadership were chided for a mismanaged public process in developing the new regulations, which have since been sent back into the public process. However, it has become obvious that no amount of public engagement is going to change what State Parks wanted in the first place, a regulation that makes it more difficult to open trails to bikes.

California State Parks have been under much scrutiny with the Parks Forward Commission releasing findings of numerous areas that need improvement in the administration of our State Parks. Their plan will be released sometime in 2015. We are hoping to see some of the recommendations of the commission implemented, but the reforms will likely be difficult in this chronically mismanaged agency.

Looking forward to 2015, we’ll be as busy as ever. We’ll continue to work with State Parks, the National Park Service, the Forest Service, Los Angeles County, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency and local cities and conservancies. We’ll continue to monitor trail access issues. We’ll continue to advocate for more trail opportunities. We’ll continue to work with IMBA at the national level, and our neighboring IMBA Chapters and other trail organizations locally and state-wide.

At the moment we know of at least three major issues that will get our full attention in 2015. The first is the previously mentioned San Gabriel Mountains National Monument Management Plan.

Next is the Santa Monica Mountain Trails Master Plan. This plan has been in development for more than 12 years, and is the primary reason that State Parks have not yet followed through on their obligation to assess existing trails for bicycle use. We expect public hearings on the trail master plan to begin mid-winter. This will be one of the most important processes for you to stay involved with, and will determine the future of bicycle access to trails in the Santa Monica Mountains for decades to come.

Rim of the Valley Study Area

Rim of the Valley Study Area

The Rim of the Valley Corridor Study will also be released in Winter 2015. This study is examining the mountains surrounding the San Fernando, Simi, Conejo, and Crescenta and San Rafael valleys for an integrated management approach. This study has implications for trail connectivity, resource protection, wildlife corridors and more.

We need your support. CORBA, with it’s small but dedicated crew of volunteers, has a lot on our plate for 2015. But if we are to accomplish everything on our agenda for 2015, we’ll need some help from you. We depend on your support and your membership dollars. You have renewed your membership, right?  In addition to your membership, attending public meetings and submitting your comments on issues that affect our trails is the most important thing you can do.  Of course, volunteering to do trailwork is the most tangible ways you can make a difference. Join our Meetup group to stay up to date on our activities. We also welcome help in areas of graphic design, public relations/marketing, fundraising and grantwriting. If you’d like to just stay on top of what’s happening and get some of the inside scoop, consider attending our monthly board meetings.

Get out and ride. Stay informed and involved. Remember to be courteous to other trail users. Thanks for your support through a great 2014, and have a wonderful, happy and prosperous 2015!

LA County’s Prop P (for Parks) on November Ballot

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

imgresIn 1992, LA County voters approved the Safe Neighborhood Parks measure which has since provided approximately $54 million a year for more than 1500 projects including 33,000 acres of protected open space and 244 trail projects. The program funded a variety of significant park projects and over the years employed 25,000 youth in park programming.

This 1992 measure is about to expire and this November voters will have the chance to vote for Prop P, its replacement. If passed, Prop P will allocate funds across Los Angeles County for parks in disadvantaged communities, neighborhood parks, clean beaches and water, regional open space including trails, non-profit and public agency projects and park maintenance.

Los Angeles County has been a good partner for the mountain biking community. Their trails policy clearly states that County trails, wherever feasible, should be multiple use including bicycles. We applaud them for this policy, and are actively working with the County on several projects, including a bike park proposal.

CORBA urges our members and readers to become informed on Prop P, and consider the effects it will have on the trails and open spaces you ride, as well as future opportunities for parks and trails. Further information is available at: osd.lacounty.gov

Sullivan Canyon Closure Update August 11

Monday, August 11th, 2014

From SoCal Gas:

Sullivan Canyon will be closed to visitors Tuesday August 12th for a Hydro-Static Pressure test of the natural gas transmission pipelines. Please schedule your visit accordingly.

This closure if for safety reasons so please do not access the canyon from any of the side trails. The canyon will be open again on Wednesday provided there are no problems with the test. Please use caution as you pass construction equipment, and we recommend keeping dogs on a leash so they are not harmed by equipment as well.

For information, contact:

Mike Harriel

Public Affairs Manager

Regional Public Affairs

555 W. 5th St.

Los Angeles, Ca. 90013

Office: 213 244-4633

Sullivan Canyon Work Update, July 3

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

The latest news from Mike Harriel of So Cal Gas regarding construction as they move closer to the mandated test on its pipelines in Sullivan Canyon.

Beginning July 8th

·         We will conduct a bird survey to determine if any nesting birds are in the area of our work. If there are, the project will be delayed.

·         If all is well with the nesting birds, we will work with a certified arborist to trim trees that could sustain damaged by construction equipment. The trimming will occur at the direction of the arborist and only the minimum necessary.

·         An active beehive will have to be removed for the safety of our employees and users of the canyon.

 Beginning July 14th

·         Construction mobilization will occur. You will notice the moving in of water tanks and other construction equipment. Tanks and equipment will be staged away from the trail. All soil will be returned to the excavation it is removed from.

·         A fire prevention plan is in effect to protect the canyon.

 As mentioned previously, the canyon trail will remain open. Signs will provide advance notice when the canyon is closed for hydro testing, which will occur over the course of one day. Signs will also be posted at the drop-in trails. For safety reasons, we don’t want any members of the public dropping in to the canyon during the test, so please abide by the posted closing.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Mike Harriel

Public Affairs Manager

Office: 213 244-4633

More Work Scheduled for Sullivan Canyon in June

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Since 1960, Southern California Gas Company (“SoCaIGas”) has owned much of the land that comprises Sullivan Canyon (more than 4 miles in length).  This property is used as a corridor for two transmission pipelines that provide Los Angeles residents with a safe and reliable supply of natural gas.  Periodically, SoCalGas must perform maintenance on these pipelines. The purpose of this letter is to provide information on pipeline maintenance and repair work that will occur in the coming weeks.

SoCalGas will conduct a hydrostatic pressure test on a segment of one of our natural gas transmission pipelines in Sullivan Canyon.  Hydrostatic pressure testing is a process that uses water to exert pressure on a pipeline at levels greater than its usual operating pressure to assess its soundness, often referred to as its integrity.

This test involves digging around the underground pipeline and safely venting natural gas from the pipeline. We will then fill the pipeline with water, and increase the pressure to a level that is higher than the pipeline’s normal operating pressure.  If the pipe holds the pressure without any leaks, it will be put back in service. If the pipeline leaks during the test, SoCalGas will repair the pipeline and retest it, or replace it with new, pre-tested pipeline.

What to expect

The construction work will take place at several locations starting west of the Sullivan Canyon trailhead at the end of Queensferry Road and about a quarter-mile northwest of the trailhead.  Work will begin in June 2014, and last about four to six weeks, although weather and other factors affecting safe working conditions could change the schedule. Normal work days will be Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., however, some activities may extend the hours.

Test Start Location:

At Sullivan Canyon Trailhead at Queensferry Road, a test-start location will be staged just west of the trail with an excavation site, water tanks, and other equipment. This area will be closed to the public.

Test End Location:

About a quarter-mile northwest of the trailhead, a test-end location with excavation site and support equipment will be staged alongside the trail.  This area will also be closed to the public.

Hikers, bikers, and others traversing the trail should use caution while passing by both test site locations. For safety reasons, Sullivan Canyon Trail will not be accessible by the public on the actual test day for the duration of the test. Check local signage with updates on construction activity.

The local community may notice truck traffic bringing test equipment and water tanks to the test sites and then removing them. Nearby residents may hear some work-related noise.

Your gas service should continue without interruption. If that changes, a SoCalGas representative will contact you.

The odor of natural gas

At times, you may smell the odor of natural gas and hear a loud, steady noise as we vent natural gas from the pipeline using safe and common techniques. Although this is normal when crews are working, we encourage anyone who has concerns about the smell of gas to call us from a safe location at 1-800-427-2200. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

We apologize for any inconvenience while we’re performing this test and appreciate your patience and cooperation.

Mike Harriel

Public Affairs Manager – Southern California Gas Company

Tel: (213) 244-4633 

Sullivan Canyon Officially Re-opens

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

image001By Mike Harriel, Southern California Gas Company

So Cal Gas has completed mandated maintenance work on the pipelines in Sullivan Canyon. The canyon is now open for use.

As I have mentioned before. There is another maintenance project occurring in the canyon in early May 2014. I will inform you about the impact to the canyon as well as timeline once I have all the information.

Please be aware; at the end of the Sullivan Fire Road north of Mulholland Drive, Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas®) will soon be working in the area to perform a pressure test on one of our natural gas pipelines. You will see SoCalGas and its Contractor’s trucks, water tanks, and heavy equipment.

I know a lot of you use this road for hiking and biking. My understanding is the road will not be completely blocked so you will be able to pass through. Work will begin late March 2014, and last until approximately early in May 2014, although weather and other factors affecting safe working conditions could change the schedule.

Thank you for your patience regarding Sullivan Canyon closures. Please understand Sullivan Canyon is private property, owned solely by the southern California gas company. Its primary function is a corridor for two high pressure gas lines. Because of its natural beauty, we make it available for public use. Periodically, we must complete state and federally mandated maintenance on this pipeline to insure its integrity and public safety. This maintenance may require partial or complete shutdown of the canyon, depending on the nature of the work. We try to keep the public informed of this work, scheduling and user impact.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Happy hiking and biking!

 

LA County: Santa Susana Mountains Trails Master Plan Update

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014
Santa Susana Mountains Trail Master Plan Meeting

Kathline King introduces the SSMTMP

At last weeks second public meeting on the Santa Susana Mountains Trails Master Plan, the County presented a comprehensive map showing their planned trails, the existing trails, and the relevant delineations of private, public and utility lands. While public comments were made, they weren’t being recorded.

CORBA would like to express our sincere thanks and gratitude to L.A. County Parks and Recreation Planning Division staff for moving this trail plan forward, and to Supervisor Antonovich for his support of the process. CORBA whole-heartedly supports project, the process, and the deliverables (maps) presented at the meeting last week.

In looking at the final draft map, we were pleased to see that the agency had listened to the prior comments asking to expand the study area so that true connectivity between disparate open spaces and existing trails could be explored more thoroughly and with a more regional view.

From our cursory review of the maps presented at the meeting, we can say that the work that has gone into this planning effort has been very much worthwhile. We feel the document is a great step towards achieving the stated goals of identifying missing links, providing connectivity between existing trails, open spaces and jurisdictions, and recognizing the value of some of the existing non-system trails. We feel the eventual implementation of the plan will increase both the quality, quantity, and variety of recreational experiences the community so badly needs.

We are also sensitive to the concerns of private property owners who expressed feelings that they hadn’t been heard. However, we also feel that many of their concerns arose from an incomplete understanding of the goals of this planning process. In some cases, it seemed their negative experiences with other neighboring public land managers have elevated their concerns about dealing with the County. We hope that as the plan is implemented and negotiations take place with private land owners (and the neighboring public land managers), their fears can be allayed and mutually beneficial compromises reached for the benefit of the entire trail user community and the public-at-large.

The County’s policy favoring shared-use trails including bicycles is very important to us as a trail advocacy group comprised of bicyclists. We know that there are several places where proposed County trails will connect to trails in City of Los Angeles parks such as O’Melveny and Limekiln Canyon. On these City trails bicycles are presently prohibited. It is our hope that the County and City can come to a compromise that would allow bicycles to connect legally to the proposed County trails/trailheads that are only accessible through City property and trails.

Since this Trail Master Plan will be incorporated into the County General Plan, we feel it would also be worth coordinating proposed trailheads with the 2012 L.A. County Bicycle Master Plan. Having trailheads accessible by bicycle-friendly infrastructure such as Class II Bike lanes is good for encouragement, makes them more accessible to non-drivers, and helps reduce vehicular traffic to trailheads.

CORBA is at present in full support of the plan. It will be presented to the County Rec and Parks Commission later in the year, and subsequently to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors for adoption.

Update March 16, 2014: The plan will be presented to the Planning Commission on March 26, 2014. Meeting starts at 9 am at the Hall of Records Room 150, 320 W. Temple Street, Los Angeles, California 90012. The Parks and Recreation element is agenda item #6.i.

The Trail Master Plan map and powerpoint presentation are available on the County’s web site.

Update, March 26, 2014: The LA County Regional Planning Commission held their hearing on the draft plan today. Steve Messer, Jim Hasenauer, Ken Raleigh and Tony Arnold all testified in support of the plan. One private landowner, and five equestrian representatives also testified in support of the plan, all of them mentioning multi-use trails. Nobody spoke against the plan. Other elements of the County General Plan were also presented to the Commission, who held the matter over until their next meeting in April. We are confident the Planning Commission will approve the plan, which will then go before the Board Of Supervisors later in the year.

Sullivan Canyon Pipeline Work Begins January 6

Friday, December 20th, 2013

From the Public Affairs Office of Southern California Gas:

Since 1960, Southern California Gas Company (“SoCaIGas”) has owned much of the land that comprises Sullivan Canyon (more than 4 miles in length). This property is used as a corridor for two transmission pipelines that provide Los Angeles residents with a safe and reliable supply of natural gas. Periodically, SoCalGas must perform maintenance on these pipelines. The purpose of this letter is to provide information on pipeline maintenance and repair work that will occur in 2014.

Purpose of this Work

We recently internally inspected our pipeline. By code, we have areas we are required to perform a visual inspection of the pipeline as part of a validation process. This work is required to maintain the pipeline’s safety and integrity.

Location and Logistics

There are two work areas along the access road within the canyon that will require excavation.

Location 1: 0.7 (seven tenths) of a mile south from fire road #26 at the Mulholland entrance

Location 2: 2.8 miles in from fire road #26, or 1.4 miles from the Queensferry entrance

Partial Canyon Closures

The Canyon path will be closed from the Mulholland entrance at fire road #26 to location 1.

There is no change to the Queensferry entrance. Signs will be posted along the path indicating construction status.

The following impacts are to be expected in the canyon and surrounding neighborhood. I will keep you apprised of any changes.

-Work will commence on or about January 6, 2014.

-Work is estimated to be completed in 8 weeks.

-Information signs will be posted in advance at the beginning of each entrance.

-Work hours are sun up to sun down, Monday through Friday. No work will be performed on Saturday and Sunday.

-Intermittent loud noise in the immediate work areas.

-Increased dust in the immediate work areas.

-Increased traffic at the Mulholland entrance from work crews and equipment.

SoCalGas appreciates your understanding and apologizes for any inconveniences caused by this necessary work. It is our goal to minimize disruptions. We value our relationship with the community and will communicate with you when our work has the potential of impacting our neighbors. Again, there are two high-pressure transmission pipelines located in the canyon and we will continue to periodically perform maintenance work to them as-needed to ensure safety.

Safety is our first priority. Should you have any questions, please call me 213 244-4633 or email me at mharriel@semprautilities.com.

Sincerely,

Mike Harriel

Public Affairs Manager

Tell Los Angeles Recreation and Parks What You Want

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

rec and parks logoThe City of of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department (RAP) is seeking public input on the future and funding of our City parks. This is being conducted through a series of public meetings, and an online Community Budget Discussion survey

We are taking this opportunity to remind RAP of their obligations and duties as identified in the 2010 Los Angeles City Bike Plan. CORBA worked diligently to keep the meager provisions for off-road cycling in the 2010 Bike Plan, while the powerful equestrian lobby fought hard to have them removed. We submitted over 1000 letters and petition signatures calling on the City to include strategies for accommodating mountain bikes on at least some City trails. We also asked that a recommendation for Bike Parks be included in the Bike Plan, but a Bike Park provision was not included in the final plan.

Havemeyer Park, a pop-up bike park facility in Brooklyn

Havemeyer Park, a pop-up bike park facility in Brooklyn

The City has made remarkable progress on the implementation of the Bike Plan, at least where the Department of Transport is the lead agency. The five-year implementation strategy is ahead of schedule with regards to new bike lanes and other infrastructure supporting cycling on the City’s streets.

To our knowledge, nothing has yet been done to implement the off-road cycling provisions identified in Chapter 4, Sections 3.3.5, 3.3.6, and 3.3.7 of the 2010 Bike Plan. The lead agency identified for those provisions is RAP.  The Bike Plan calls for these provisions to be completed by 2015.

We therefore urge all of CORBA’s members who live within the City of Los Angeles to complete the survey. The survey is available at http://laparks.org, where a popup window will direct you to the survey. The survey can also be accessed directly at http://m.laparks.org/survey/#survey, but please read on before doing so.

The RAP survey will ask how often you visit City parks, what activities you participate in, how far would you travel for specific activities, and what amenities you would like to see. Nowhere within the survey is there any mention of bicycles, trails for bicycles or bike parks. You must write those in where appropriate.

While “equestrian trails” and “hiking/walking” trails are referred to in the survey, there is not a single mention of bicycle trails or multiple-use trails. Also missing is any mention of Bike Parks. Therefore the only opportunity within the survey to request park facilities for bicycles, such as trails, pump tracks or bike parks, is in the “Additional Comments,” section 9.

We encourage our members and readers to take the survey, and in the “Additional Comments section,” urge the RAP department to:

The Recreation and Parks Department needs to allocate the necessary resources to complete the programs for which it is the lead agency as identified in Chapter 4, Sections 3.3.6 and 3.3.7 of the 2010 Bike Plan. Numerous funding sources in the form of bike industry grants, community health and wellness grants, and youth initiative grants are available to fund and support bike skills parks and multiple-use trails, as well as sponsorships and public-private partnerships. RAP needs to provide natural-surface trails for bicycles, and should consider developing urban bike skills parks, with a range of skills development features that are suitable for all ages and skill levels. 

You may copy and paste the above paragraph to post under “additional comments”, but feel free to provide your own input for the survey. Additionally, section 6 asks surveyees to rank or prioritize desired facilities. Bike parks are not mentioned, but can be written in under option W: “Other, Please Specify.”

Core to the survey is the identification of sources of revenue to fund the City’s parks. There are many funding options in the form of bike industry grants available for the construction of bike parks and multi-use trails. There is also a ready and willing army of volunteers who would gladly help build and maintain bike parks. However, the City must first undergo a change in attitude towards off-road bicyclists, just as it has seen a change in attitude towards road cyclists and bike commuters.

A series of public meetings are being held, some of which have already taken place. A full list of them is available at http://www.laparks.org/pdf/comInput.pdf. Meetings are from 6:30 – 8 p.m. For more information, contact Theresa Walker, theresa.walker@lacity.org, at (213) 202-3205.

CD1 – December 4: Ramona Hall Community Center, 4580 North Figueroa Street
CD3 – December 3: Woodland Hills Recreation Center, 5858 Shoup Avenue
CD4 – December 9: Griffith Park Visitor’s Center, 4730 Crystal Springs Dr.
CD7 – December 10: Ritchie Valens Recreation Center, 10736 Laurel Canyon Boulevard (Pacoima)
CD8 – December 3: Algin Sutton Recreation Center, 8800 South Hoover Street
CD9 – December 12: EXPO Center, 3980 South Bill Robertson Lane
CD10 – December 4: Rancho Cienega Sports Complex, 5001 Rodeo Road
CD14 – December 2: City Hall, 200 N. Spring St. Public Works Board Room
CD14 – December 3: Evergreen Recreation Center, 2844 East 2nd Street
CD15 – December 5: 109th St. Rec Center, 1464 E. 109th St.

Edit: CORBA’s response letter to Rec and Parks can be read at: 2013-12-02-Los Angeles Rec and Parks Letter.

What CORBA Does

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

By Mark Langton

Bikes, horses, hikers and runners

Bikes, horses, hikers and runners. We all love trails.

Recently a bicycle club-team representative  contacted CORBA wanting to see what more they could do to get more of the trails that are currently closed to bicycles opened up to shared use. A couple of comments from the correspondence were that they thought that showing up in larger numbers to public meetings would help, and that they thought the main reason that trails were closed were because of an influential public anti-bicycle lobby.

I wrote back to the person who contacted me, and in doing so came up with what I think is a good overview of what CORBA has been doing for the past 26 years, and continues to do on behalf of all public backcountry trail users (see below). Yes, CORBA is a mountain bike organization, but we are more than that, and here’s why: We believe that shared use works better because it disperses use, rather than concentrating it. When you disperse use, you reduce congestion, and when you reduce congestion, you reduce confrontation. Moreover, it has been shown that where shared use trails exist, it works. Maybe not perfectly, but certainly better than where there are restrictions to bicycles, because shared use also fosters cooperation. Bicycles do mix when operated considerately and with the safety and serenity of other trail users in mind. And that’s the crux of the issue: If bicyclists would simply slow down around others, including other bicyclists, they would be solving the problem of both dangerous speed, and the “startle factor,” or the disruption of another’s peaceful enjoyment of the backcountry.

Here’s what I wrote to that bicycle club team member:

This year CORBA celebrated its 26th anniversary. In that time we have made many strides to opening trails to shared use (hiking, equestrian, bicycle) in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles County, and Eastern Ventura County. We have participated in hundreds of public meetings with land managers over the years. Land managers recognize and continue to adapt to the growing bicycle population and changing demographic profile of the trail user community. They are certainly aware of the needs and desires of the mountain biking community through CORBA’s efforts, which include quarterly meetings with principal agency managers (National Park Service, State Parks, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority). We are also in constant communication with these agencies and/or when the need arises to address a specific issue. CORBA also works closely with the Mountain Bike Unit which aids the rangers and community with safety and education. CORBA also schedules and organizes regular trail maintenance work days s in conjunction with the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council and Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency. CORBA is also heavily involved with the Angeles National Forest with trail maintenance and volunteer patrol participation. Due to CORBA’s efforts, most of the singletrack trails built in the last 25 years are shared use (not to mention a lot of the singletrack that already existed not getting shut down).

 As you can see, there is more to getting involved than just showing up at meetings in large numbers. The issue of bikes not being allowed on trails is more than just politically active opponents to bicycles; it is mired in an outdated management policy of restriction that is predicated to a large degree on ignorance and a status quo mentality. Within the last few years there has been a systemic change for adopting shared use as the overriding management strategy. It is a slow moving process but we do see a very strong indication that within the next few years we will see many more trails opening to shared use on a statewide basis than currently exists. This change comes from consistent efforts not only by CORBA, but mountain bike advocates all over the state, with assistance from the International Mountain Bicycle Association (of which CORBA was a founding club in 1988).

 The one concern that is always at the forefront of managers’ minds is safety. It is agreed by everyone that bicycles are an acceptable form of public open space trail recreation. However, it is when riders go too fast around other users as to make it an unsafe or even just an unpleasant experience that gets mountain bikers a bad reputation, and gets the managers to thinking about restricting bicycles. If everyone would just slow down when passing others, and slow down into corners so they don’t scare others on the other side, we would pretty much solve the problem. I am not saying you shouldn’t go fast, I’m just saying do it when conditions are safe.