Solving the Speed Dilemma

By Mark Langton

Opponents to bicycles on singletrack trails give plenty of reasons why they feel bikes shouldn’t be there. And there is one that is actually legitimate; bicyclists sometimes go too fast, and some trail users feel their safety is threatened. It’s a simple fix; slow down when you see other trail users, or if you suspect there may be trail users in close proximity. Ideally, slow to their speed and make the encounter a pleasant one–like you’re passing a friend. If you do this, opponents will have nothing to complain about and might even enjoy the encounter!

Consider that in recent weeks several comments have been made on blogs and in local news papers, particularly in reference to the Yearling and Lookout Trails in Malibu Creek State Park, and State Park’s considering opening them to bicycle use. From this recent Malibu Times article comes this quote from Agoura Hills resident and equestrian Ruth Gerson:

“The problem with multiuse trails [is others have to] default to mountain bikers because the bikes are so fast–the pedestrians and equestrians have been hit,” she said.

While safety should obviously be of the utmost concern, there is little evidence that supports allegations that pedestrians and equestrians are being hit by bicyclists frequently or consistently. In fact, in the more than 24 years of CORBA’s existence, there are few documented accounts of bicyclists colliding with other trail users.

As riders, we understand that there are some bicyclists who have the skills to ride at a higher rate of speed while under complete control. However, if the speed creates a hazardous situation for other trail users, then that speed is not justified. If the simple act of slowing down for blind corners and in the presence of other trail users could eliminate the argument for not allowing bicycles on trails, wouldn’t you do it?

I look at it as belonging to a community, enjoying the outdoors together, albeit via different modes of travel. We should extend the kind of courtesy to each other on the trail as we would to our family members.

Danusa Bennett-Taber, Jim Hasenaur, and Steve Messer contributed to this article.





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