Archive for the ‘Palos Verdes’ Category

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. 

Show Us Your Smile

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

smileSometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. We have created this message tag with the help of BikeTags ( so that we can spread the message of goodwill, peace, and harmony throughout the world. Or maybe just the message “don’t worry, be happy.” The idea is to show other trail users that we belong, we care, and we can coexist. Similar to the SoCal High School Cycling League’s “spirit of howdy”, it’s a way to remember to slow down and smell the sage brush.

We’ll be making the CORBA Smile Tags available to anyone who wants one, just send an email request to We’ll be giving away prizes for the best photos of the tags on your bikes while on the trail. Photos will be judged on originality, creativity, and overall quality. (Details to follow in the coming weeks). The grand prize will be a Niner full suspension frameset, donated by Niner.

OK, so maybe putting the Smile Tag on your bike* won’t save the world. But a lot of times a little smile can go a long way.

*The Smile Tag is a high quality plastic laminated product and comes with all hardware necessary to mount on a handlebar or under the seat. If mounting to the handlebar, a hole may need to be punched at the bottom of the tag to help secure the tag to a brake or derailleur cable (see photo).



I’d Like to Thank…

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

By Mark Langton

When I learned that CORBA would be inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, my first reaction was, “where do we begin to start thanking people?” If you go back to the inception of CORBA, it all started with a 1987 Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) meeting where one of the agenda items was to consider adopting California State Parks’ policy of single track trails being closed to bicycles. So I guess you could say that CORBA owes a debt of gratitude to the SMMC for considering closing trails to bikes.

There were quite a few mountain bikers at that SMMC meeting, myself included. We sat patiently while the committee members discussed the pros and cons of allowing this “new” recreation on their public trails. They decided to adopt the State Parks policy, but they would continue dialogue with “the bike group” to see if bicycles could be integrated into the trail system. The cyclists in the audience looked around and silently acknowledged that “I guess we’re the bike group.” A legal pad was passed around and the list of people collected at that meeting became the impetus for CORBA. (Since then SMMC has adopted an inclusive policy toward mountain bikes.)

Twenty-six years later, we are still having to address issues of whether or not bicycles can coexist on public open space trails, mostly on State Parks’ trails. It’s like when snowboarding became popular at ski resorts. There was a lot of animosity leveled at snowboarders by skiers. A partial solution was to create separate areas where snowboarders could do their thing and skiers knew to stay away from those areas. But with public open space trails, we don’t necessarily have that luxury. If we want to share the trails, we have to behave accordingly and expect that there may be hikers, equestrians, and other (less experienced) cyclists on those trails.

The sport of mountain biking is evolving much like the sport of skiing has evolved to include snowboard riders. Separate areas are being developed to accommodate “gravity” mountain biking, and CORBA is working with land managers in our region to develop mountain bike parks that allow for more aggressive riding, including jumps, drops, and technical features. We will be announcing some very exciting news within the next few months regarding these new areas!

If you want something to last, you have to be willing to commit to the long haul. I’m not sure if that’s what the founders of CORBA set out to do, but thanks to them and everyone who got involved from then until now, we have a lasting legacy and solid foundation that will serve the next generation of mountain bikers in the greater Los Angeles and Eastern Ventura Counties.

And when we accept the award on behalf of CORBA for being inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, you can be sure that everyone on that stage will be feeling the pride of all of those who have supported CORBA over the last 26 years.


Palos Verdes Volunteer Trail Patrol Needs Mountain Bikers

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

bike_group_delcerro2Rancho Palos Verdes will soon create a Volunteer Trail Patrol program. CORBA PV has recommended the formation of a trail patrol for many years. It will be similar to volunteer patrols from other open space agencies including the Santa Monica Mountains based Mountain Bike Unit. The MBU was founded by CORBA in 1988 and now works under the National Park Service, the California State Parks, and the Santa Monica Mountains MRCA (Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority).

Volunteer Trail Patrol members will assist the MRCA rangers by regularly patrolling the Palos Verdes Nature Preserve on foot, by horse or by bicycle. The goal is to educate and assist trail users, report safety hazards, maintenance needs, and regulation infractions. Volunteer Trail Patrol members will not be able to issue citations or make arrests.

It is important to have members from all three user groups on the patrol. Peer to peer communication is the most effective way to education trail users and minimize user conflicts concerns. For years CORBA PV has called on the city to collect factual on-trail information instead of relying on anecdotal comments at public meetings. Your participation will help collect accurate information and lead to impartial decisions by the city council.

The program is yet to be finalized but volunteers will undergo training and commit to four hours per month. Those who are interested can contact Barb Ailor at For more information go to

Why? Good Question!

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013


By Mark Langton

It was recently brought to our attention that newly elected president of Equestrian Trails, Inc. (ETI) Robert Foster, a retired law enforcement officer, donates his time as an emergency medical technician at So Cal High School Mountain Bike Racing League races. Mr. Foster is a staunch supporter of the league, and in his president’s message in ETI’s most recent newsletter he stated that it’s a new era in our public open space trail systems, and mountain bikers are part of the trail user community so we all should try to figure out ways to get along.

Now I’ve been doing this advocacy thing for over 25 years, and I’ve experienced a lot of encouraging progress in the areas of shared use, especially when it comes to opening more trails to bicycle use. To hear the president of an organization that has historically had some of its members rally against mountain bikes say that we need to get along is truly groundbreaking. But things like this come fewer and more far between than I’d like, and during these 25 years I have often asked myself “why am I doing this?” The answer is always “because it’s the right thing to do.” This might sound insane (insanity once being defined by Albert Einstein as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results), and in many ways this might be true. But then something like Robert Foster’s reasonable position comes along and I think to myself, maybe we have been doing the right thing after all.

Over the years we have heard many reasons people feel mountain bikes don’t mix on shared use trails, but only one is valid; people riding their bikes too fast at the wrong time and place (around other trail users) is just not a pleasant experience for the people being passed at an inappropriate speed. As I’ve said many times before, we all have within our power the ability to solve this issue: slow down. In other words, use caution when around others. Let me put it another way; your actions represent the entire mountain bike community. The smile you create through a pleasant trail encounter goes a long way.

Randy Rogers Had it Right

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

By Mark Langton

IMG_23141When I first met North Ranch Mountain Bike Club ( founder Randy Rogers, he told me of his simple concept when encountering others on the trail. “You should slow down enough to have a brief conversation with them. Like, ‘How are you? Have a nice day.’” I told him I thought that this was overly courteous, and if you simply slowed down and said “hi” as you passed, it would be sufficient.

Now, 20 or so years later, I have to admit that Randy was right. Because in having that brief conversation, you not only slow down, you also show care and concern for the other trail user. And if we want to promote a backcountry that is harmonious and safe, then we all must act as if we are a family. Sure, like most families we may have our differences, but in the end our goal should be to care for, and be kind to, each other. After all, we’re out on the trails for the same reasons; to enjoy nature and to renew our spirit.

I challenge you to try this simple, easy experiment: When safely passing someone, including other cyclists, slow down to the point you’re almost going their speed (or stop if necessary), and ask “how are you doing?” (or the abbreviation “howdy!”). Pause just long enough to let them reply. If they don’t, at least you initiated the pleasantry. If they do reply, recognize the feeling you get from the exchange. They feel comforted and cared for, and you have done something nice. If that’s not a win/win, I don’t know what is. And at the risk of sounding cliché, you are paying good karma forward, which in most cases is contagious. And please drop me an email at or post a reply and let me know how it goes when you try this experiment. I’d really like to hear your experiences. Thanks!

(By the way, if you’re already using this method of trail courtesy, Thank You!)

Be The Solution

Monday, December 10th, 2012

By Mark Langton

I agree with hikers. I agree that when a mountain biker goes by me too close and too fast, it’s scary and unsettling. And they don’t have to be going fast, just too fast for the conditions. If a mountain biker goes by me at 15 mph on a fire road, no problem. If a mountain biker goes by me at 15 mph on a singletrack trail less than six inches from me, then I have a bit of a problem.

I agree with hikers right up to the point when they say all mountain bikers should be banned from trails because some of them go too fast around other users. You can’t tell me I’m banned from the trails because of someone else’s irresponsible behavior.

I believe there’s nothing wrong with going fast, as long as it’s being done safely (and within reason). If mountain bikers go so fast as to create a danger to themselves–such as crashing and having to utilize tax payer money to get medical treatment and evacuation from the backcountry–then people could point at the mountain bike community as creating an undue burden on the resource management agency. But as we’ve seen, crashes of this nature are relatively few. But the agency still takes notice when there’s an increase.

I know there are those out there, myself included, who are angry at the people who disregard common sense and speed past others with no regard for common courtesy. They’ve replied many times to our blog posts. They are angry because they know that the people who are acting irresponsibly know they are doing it, but continue to do it anyway in spite of the fact they are giving the mountain biking community a bad name; when all they have to do is very simple. Be The Solution. Just slow down around others.

As an experiment today I stopped in the middle of a singletrack trail as a rider approached me coming downhill. Although he had plenty of room to see me, he ran into me, and nearly flew over the handlebar. He was apologetic, and the conversation we had was enlightening; because he was used to others getting out of his way, he just assumed I would, too.  I recounted an instance when I was riding along a trail and I came upon a hiker with her head down, and as I slowed to a stop she looked up, startled, and nearly fell over backward. Had I assumed she heard me and was going to get out of my way, I probably would have run into her.

It’s never going to be completely safe on the trails. There are always going to be accidents, but by slowing down around others (and maybe even slowing down for blind corners), we might be able to avoid a lot of very avoidable ones.





Resolve to Solve in 2013

Monday, December 10th, 2012

How many of you have New Year’s Resolutions that you are hoping to keep? There is one you can make and keep, guaranteed. It will help you, the mountain bike community, and the trail community at large. Ready? Slow down when passing others!

How many things in life can you do that actually solve a problem? On our trails, the one justifiable complaint about mountain bikers is that they sometimes go too fast when passing others, which can be scary and upsetting,even to other cyclists. So all you have to do is slow down when passing, and you SOLVE THE PROBLEM!

Slowing down while passing others on our shared-use trails is a pure win-win proposition. The people who you pass feel good about mountain bikers. WIN! You feel good because you didn’t scare anyone, and everyone has a pleasant exchange. WIN!

Here’s a suggestion: Treat others you are passing on the trail as if you are holding the door open for them. That brief pause is a show of consideration, courtesy, and humanity that will come back to you and the mountain bike community in many positive ways.

It’s up to you. Would you rather finish your ride knowing you did something positive for mountain bikers and trails users, or that you made it worse for yourself and the mountain bike community? You CAN make a difference. And all it takes is slowing down when passing other users!


Palos Verdes to open 15 additional trails to bicycles

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

After a long and drawn-out process, the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council on Tuesday voted to approve most of a staff recommendation to open additional trails in the Palos Verdes Nature Preserve to bicycles.  With leadership and guidance from CORBA’s Palos Verdes contingent (CORBA PV), including Troy Braswell, the newly approved trail plan opens the following to bikes:

Source: Palos Verdes Patch:

Filiorum Reserve (Previously Undesignated):

  • 6 trails encompassing 3.1 miles designated multiuse (pedestrian, equestrian, bicycle).
  • 2 trails encompassing 0.5 miles designated pedestrian and equestrian only.

Abalone Cove Reserve

  • Via de Campo Trail: Changed from pedestrian only to pedestrian/bicycle.
  • Chapel View Trail: Changed from pedestrian/equestrian to multiuse.
  • Beach School Trail: Changed from pedestrian to pedestrian/bicycle.
  • Harden Trail: Trail closed completely due to erosion.
  • Portuguese Point Loop Trail: Changed from pedestrian only to pedestrian/bicycle.

Three Sisters Reserve

  • Trail plan changed to include multiuse connector trail between the Three Sisters and Filiorum Reserve.

Portuguese Bend Reserve

  • Burma Road Overlook: New multiuse trail added to lead to an overlook.
  • Pine Grove Trail: Trail to be closed due to a fire that burned the pine grove.
  • Landslide Scarp Trail: Will remain pedestrian/equestrian only.
  • Ishibashi Farm Trail: Eastern branch will remain pedestrian/equestrian only.

Ocean Trails Reserve

  • Sagebrush Walk Trail: Changed from pedestrian only to pedestrian/bicycle.

Some additional stipulations were made, including a few “walk your bike” zones on some “dangerous” sections of trail.  Two trails which had been recommended by City Staff to open to bikes were overturned by City Council, including the Landslide Scarp trail and the eastern Ishibashi Farm trail, due to safety concerns.

Throughout the process there were many setbacks, numerous delays, and much heated debate from both sides of the argument. CORBA and local advocates have been unwavering and diligent in their participation and resolve in the process, and it is thanks to them that we have this new trail plan. There were fears that the trail plan, years in the making, would be tossed out and the process begun anew with a committee. Thankfully, the years of work put in to this trail plan were kept.

There were some disappointments, however. Eucalyptus and Jack’s Brim trails in Filiorium Preserve were not considered, perhaps due to the Council’s unfamiliarity with them. Landslide in Portuguese Bend Preserve was also not considered, due to safety and sight-line issues. However, despite these losses, the net result is very positive for the mountain biking community.

Since this process began, CORBA PV and local advocates have developed good relationships with City Council members and City staff. Recommendations were made to form a public trails committee, implement a bike patrol program, and to encourage the use of bike bells. CORBA PV expects to be working with them as the plan is implemented, and to sort out remaining issues, such as enforcement.

City staff were directed to develop a plan for enforcement within 90 days. The onus now falls on local mountain bikers to be good ambassadors for the sport and stewards of the trails, through their behavior while riding, by exercising good courtesy and respect for other trail users, and by riding on open trails only.

We thank the CORBA PV team for their continued efforts, and to the Palos Verdes City Council for working with cyclists on this process.

RPV Trail Plan Saved (Probably), Final Vote 10/2/12

Friday, September 7th, 2012

The article below is from the Easy Reader newspaper (Hermosa Beach). It details the struggles Rancho Palos Verdes mountain bikers (represented by CORBA Palos Verdes) have been having with access to local trails, dating back to 2008 (and even before that). The news is good, but it still remains to be seen until the next RPV City Council meeting on October 2. People in favor of bicycle access to Rancho Palos Verdes trails are encouraged to attend. For more information go to


Mountain bikers could see more access to trails at the Palos Verdes Nature Preserve and Abalone Cove Shoreline Park and Ecological Preserve if, as expected, the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council decides the matter Oct. 4. (Info incorrect, actual date is Oct. 2–CORBA)

The proposal drew lots of public input last May when it first came before the council after a series of public workshops earlier in the year that drew around 40 people each. Several speakers opposed the additional access for bikers, causing the council to reconsider the issue until after the summer.

The original trails use plan for most of the 1,400-acre nature preserve went into effect in 2009 after a nearly two-year process led by a committee of citizens and public officials. Now the non-profit Palos Verdes Peninsula Nature Conservancy, which oversees the property, wants to designate trails on a remaining 190-acre portion known as Filiorum.

The opportunity also opened the door to revise the existing trails plan on the rest of the preserve, said Danielle LeFer, conservation director. In all, mountain bikers will potentially regain access to two trails in the Portuguese Bend area and four trails in the Abalone Cove area.

“I know mountain bikers would like to see more trails open to bikes,” said LeFer. “We incorporated all the comments we received and responded to those. Based on all of those, and discussions with rangers and city staff, we came up with some recommended changes.”

When the issue comes back to the council next month, little will have changed from what was presented in May, said Ara Mihranian, deputy director of community development for RPV.

“There are other groups out there that have their own agendas who are asking the council to make changes, but that’s not what’s being recommended by staff,” Mihranian said.

Long-time mountain biker Troy Braswell said he’s concerned the council could reverse a lot of the hard work accomplished in 2009. But council member Susan Brooks said that’s not the case.

The council postponed its decision so it could become more familiar with the preserve, Brooks said.

“The community had been working on this, but I think a lot of us were not aware of just how intensely they have been,” Brooks said. “Now that I’ve come to see just how much work has been done in the ensuing years, it really gives me a new respect for the process that has already taken place and we need to respect that.”

Brooks said RPV bears the burden of managing all the parks on the peninsula with no additional funding aside from city coffers.

“We have over 40,000 residents and we’re the largest city on the hill, but we bear the responsibility for all the parks and all the recreational facilities,” Brooks said. “Is RPV supposed to be the playground for all of the LA basin?”

By designating the trails, conservationists hope to limit impacts to the natural terrain as well as conflicts with different users. Since June 18, a ranger hotline received 55 calls, mostly about off-leash dogs said Katie Howe, parks and recreation administrative assistant.

“It’s helping to keep us aware of what’s going on in the preserve,” Howe said.

So far no calls have come in with conflicts regarding horses or mountain bikers, Howe said.

Gordon Leon, who formerly chaired the city’s equestrian committee, said the trails plan has worked pretty well.

“The trails are integral to the semi rural nature of Rancho Palos Verdes,” Leon said. “We have enviably one of the best trail networks certainly in the South Bay and to a greater extent Los Angeles. I think we’ve come to a reasonably amicable solution.” ER