Backbone Trail Bridge Repair Fund

February 4th, 2020

With generous support from REI, CORBA has put $10,000 towards the National Park Service recovery efforts to rebuild bridges on the Backbone Trail that were burned in the Woolsey Fire.

In the wake of the Woolsey Fire, three bridges along the Backbone National Recreation trail were destroyed. It was some time before the National Park Service was able to assess the remaining abutments and determine when it would begin to replace the bridges. There have been many higher priority recovery efforts underway.  Knowing people were eager to get back on the trails, the Backbone trail was reopened with temporary stream crossings where the bridges once spanned. These are meant as temporary measures until the bridges are rebuilt and opened.

Steve Messer and Charlotte Parry, of SAMO Fund

Steve Messer and Charlotte Parry, of SAMO Fund

REI allowed CORBA to coordinate our fundraising with the Santa Monica Mountains Fund. The SAMO Fund also received a grant from REI.  REI’s Vote with your Purchase campaign added to that fund to benefit all trail users in recovering the Backbone trail to pre-fire conditions.

Combined, those funds from REI, CORBA and the Santa Monica Mountains Fund are being used to leverage additional revenue streams to meet the bridge replacement costs. The National Park Service is hoping to have the remaining funding in place, and the bridges under construction this year. While the grant was funded last summer, it has taken time for the NPS to get to this stage.

The remaining grant funding has supported volunteer work days, trailwork tool repair and replacement for the benefit of trails. We also thank the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council, and the Conejo Open Space foundation, with whom CORBA volunteers have partnered on a number of projects in the fire-ravaged Santa Monica Mountains and Conejo Valleys over the past year.

We appreciate the ongoing support from REI and thank them for efforts.

 

Filmed By Bike Festival in Los Angeles

February 3rd, 2020

This weekend the 3rd Annual Filmed by Bike Festival comes to Los Angeles. Hosted by the Bicycle Culture Institute, it will be held at the Boomtown Brewery on Sunday, February 9, from 3 – 9pm.

There will be craft beer, exhibitors, movies & an awesome raffle. The Filmed by Bike Adventure Shorts program features inspiring tales of adventure, struggle and triumph on the rugged road. The path to expedition isn’t always an easy, but nature and a wild sense of curiosity lure us away from our computers, desks and schedules to enter the great wide open. These incredible films will wow audiences with their gorgeous cinematography and compelling stories.

Tickets are available at Eventbrite or at the door. ONLINE Tickets Get 1 FREE Raffle Ticket!

Stop by and say hello to the exhibitors, including CORBA, MWBA, Girlz Gone Riding, Montenegro Manufacturing (MMFG), Dahon Bicycles, Around-the-Cycle, Bicycle Culture Institute (BCI), cicLAvia, Adrian’s Epic Tall Bikes, Cohen Law Partners and RoadRunner Bags. There will also be a special panel discussion about the California Mountain Biking Coalition (a new state-wide MTB advocacy org), with board member and CORBA President Steve Messer.

 

February Skills Clinic photos posted February 3rd

February 3rd, 2020

On a sunny and warm day, we had a large turnout of 15 participants who were eager to learn (or brush up on) the basic skills of mountain biking.

The Basic Skills Clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month at Malibu Creek State Park.

You can see the photos in our February photo gallery.

The California Mountain Biking Coalition

January 30th, 2020

Beginning almost two years ago at the California Trails and Greenways Conference, CORBA President Steve Messer and advocates from around the state have been discussing the need for a statewide mountain bike advocacy organization. California is widely regarded as the birthplace of mountain biking. That also makes it the birthplace of mountain bike opposition, and of mountain bike advocacy.

For a time we had an IMBA representative, Tom Ward, who was a former California State Parks employee. He retired several years ago. Then we had an IMBA Regional Director, who was able to help coordinate advocacy efforts and peer learning opportunities with clubs from around the state. That position went away three years ago when IMBA ended their chapter program.

There has never been a dedicated regional organization to speak up for mountain bikers in Sacramento, or at the regional headquarters of the Forest Service, California State Parks, and other land managers.

Those discussions led us to form the California Mountain Biking Coalition (CAMTB), which had a soft launch in October 2019, when we received our Federal nonprofit EIN. We’re still waiting for our nonprofit determination letter, which will complete the formation of the organization.

The California Mountain Biking Coalition’s mission is to Improve and increase trail access for mountain biking throughout California by providing a unified statewide voice for organizations and individuals.

CAMTB is being organized to support and coordinate existing advocacy efforts from around the state, as reflected in the mission statement. The organization aims to help all California mountain biking clubs be more successful, and to advocate for legislation, ballot measures, regulations and best practices in recreation and natural resource management, with the goal of increasing mountain biking opportunities.

CORBA is proud to have been at the forefront of building this nascent organization. The new organization’s board of directors is comprised of successful California nonprofit advocacy group leaders, including the San Diego Mountain Bike Association, Access4Bikes Marin, Redwood Empire Mountain Bike Alliance, San Francisco Urban Riders, and of course CORBA.

The new organization is a 501c4 nonprofit, which gives us more freedom to engage politically. A 501c4 can directly lobby for legislation, election candidates, ballot measures, and other activities that might threaten the status of a 501c3. The caveat is that donations to a 501c4 are not tax-deductible.

CAMTB already has a lot on its plate. The group is currently raising funds through a founders round donation drive, corporate sponsorships, and other donations. We are having discussions with industry representatives around sponsorship and fundraising.

The board has contracted with an organizational consultant with a record of success in growing a mountain biking organization. Austin McInerny, former executive director of the National Interscholastic Cycling League, facilitated an all-day strategic planning session with the board’s first in-person meeting this week.

As we enter a new decade, we’re looking forward to taking on issues at a statewide level. Many California mountain bike advocacy groups are facing the same challenges with the same disappointing outcomes with California State Parks. By working in Sacramento, we hope to bring about change from the top down to benefit all California mountain bikers. That will take time, funding, and a lot of boots on the ground advocacy. We’re prepared to walk the halls of Sacramento, and to work directly with legislators and other advocates.

CAMTB is gearing up to take on those challenges. We’re not here to replace or supplant any existing advocacy groups, but instead to help strengthen them through resource and knowledge sharing, peer learning, and facilitated discussions.

If you’re heading to Sea Otter this year, stop by the CAMTB booth to say hi, and to learn about all that we’re working on.

 

 

SMMNRA Visitor Survey Results Released

January 30th, 2020

This week UCLA’s Luskin Center for Innovation published the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Visitor Survey results. This new report builds upon previous visitor surveys and user counts, conducted in 2002. The data are needed to help guide management of the SMMNRA. A Briefing on Diverse Park User needs is also available.

Of specific interest to mountain bikers, is that this data will be used to inform and refine the ongoing Santa Monica Mountains Interagency Trail Management Plan development, which will help guide the respective agencies’ management of existing trails and construction of new trails. The Trail Management Planning process began in 1998. You read that correctly, 1998.

CORBA has for years been advocating for a change in use of trail designation in State Parks, where mountain bikers have the least singletrack trail access relative to the trail miles available to hikers and equestrians. CORBA has a list of trails we’ve formally requested to undergo a change in use. The State’s own policy requires them to respond to these requests. These changes are needed to improve connectivity, decrease congestion on some crowded trails, and further disperse recreational cycling. Our change in use requests date back to the 1990s, and not a single trail has undergone a change in use in that time.

California State Parks underwent a multi-year, multi-million dollar Programmatic Environmental Impact Report to supposedly streamline the change in use process. So far, the only outcome of that study was to retrofit the Tapia Spur trail–which was already open to bicycles–with pinch points, implemented so poorly that all but expert cyclists have to dismount to negotiate some of them.

State Parks have told us to wait for the Trail Management Plan to be completed, which will supposedly identify trails suitable for a change in use to allow bicycles. They have been telling us that for more than 15 years.

While we welcome the report, the surveyors acknowledge that cyclists and equestrians were the least likely to stop and take a survey. The report states that mountain bikers were the 3rd most observed user type in the visitor count, at only 7.7% of visitors. It’s important to note that the survey is of park visitors, not necessarily trail users. It includes respondents who were not necessarily there for trails, but were counted as hikers since they were on foot.

Due to this, and since the survey sites included many trails not open to bicycles, the results seem skewed to undercount cyclists. Any mountain biker or gravel grinder can attest that on trails where bicycles are permitted, bicyclists account for much more than the 7.7% of users reported in the survey. The report states that mountain biking participation has decreased from the 2002 survey. We know this is not true.

It isn’t surprising that 75% of mountain bikers who took the survey were male. That’s an improvement over the 86% male participation in 2002, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

Another important aspect of the survey are the demographics of park visitors. The data highlight social inequities in who has access to the park. The survey acknowledges LA County’s Park Needs Assessment, and corroborates some of that study’s findings. A majority of visitors were higher income, caucasian, educated, and english-speaking. It’s clear that the economically disadvantaged, and non-english speaking populations are far less likely to visit the National Recreation Area, and have a more difficult time doing so. They travelled further, and spent more time to get there.

CORBA’s Youth Adventures program is one way that we are helping to counter that inequity. About twice per month, at-risk youth who would otherwise have no access to the National Recreation Area are taken on a guided interpretive mountain bike ride.

The release of the survey results is an important step forward. Even with it’s acknowledged flaws and perceived inaccuracies, it is needed to guide all park infrastructure development, not just trails. For that we must continue to wait for the Interagency Travel Management Plan. After 22 years we’re hoping to see that plan sometime this decade.

Trail Construction by SCV Trail Users

January 30th, 2020

New trail!

CORBA is proud to have the Santa Clarita Valley Trail Users (SCVTU) out furthuring CORBA’s mission, by advocating for new trails, and doing trail maintenance and construction in the Santa Clarita Valley.   SCVTU became a committee of CORBA in 2017, and have been making great strides in advocacy and volunteerism.

Currently, they are building out a new trail network at East Walker Ranch and Golden Valley Ranch. These two properties were acquired by the City to preserve as open space. They have an existing network of old ranch roads, but few singletrack options. The ranch roads are also unsustainably steep in some places, and don’t provide the trail experience that most people look for when hiking or mountain biking. The City has seen the need for new trails to accommodate their growing population, and we’re happy to help.

The trail network will eventually connect SCV neighborhoods to the Placerita Canyon nature center, the Angeles National Forest, and to other open spaces managed by the City.

On Sunday, January 26, 2020, more than two dozen volunteers worked on the latest addition to the trail network, garnering some great media coverage from SCV Signal, a local newspaper.

The work is supported by a generous grant from REI, which allowed the committee to acquire tools, support and engage volunteers, and bring in additional expertise to facilitate construction. REI is so invested that a volunteer work day for REI employees was held last year. Another is being planned for later this year.

It was especially rewarding for members of the Santa Clarita Composite Mountain Bike team, who race in the SoCal High School Mountain biking league. Team members and coaches were there to build the trail in the morning, then rode it in the afternoon.

We thank REI, all the volunteers who have given so much to the SCV community, and to our committee members who have led the effort. You should thank them too.

Happy New Decade! A 20-Teens Retrospective

January 1st, 2020

CORBA has a lot to be proud of this last ten years. It feels like the twenty-teens was the decade in which mountain biking really came of age. The sport has grown and we’ve seen tremendous changes and challenges. Mountain bikers are no longer a newcomer to the trails, but we’ve still got a long way to go.

There’s no denying the explosive growth of mountain biking last decade. We’ve all seen more people on trails, and more of them on bikes than ever before. I’ve met more riders with less than five years experience than in any five-year period before the last. Conversely, we’ve seen relatively few new trails constructed in that time. The trail supply is not keeping up with the demand here in Southern California. The agencies and volunteers can’t keep up with maintenance of the supply we already have. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed in ten years, and has gotten worse with agency budget cuts and increasingly severe weather. It’s why we ask you to come out and give a morning back to the trails once or twice a year. You’ll appreciate them so much more after a morning of trailwork.

Let’s take a long look back at what has changed and been accomplished last decade.

Read the rest of this entry »

Summary of Backbone Trail restoration held on November 16, 2019

November 17th, 2019

The Backbone Trail between Mulholland Hwy and Etz Meloy Mtwy saw about 20 volunteers from CORBA and the Santa Monica Mountains Trails Council on Saturday to prepare the trail for upcoming winter rains. The area had burned during the Woolsey Fire a year ago that consumed all the chaparral on the hillside, and there was no brush overgrowing the trail. We focused on building rock retaining walls to support the outside of the trail where water would flow down from above and cross the trail. We also cleaned out drains that had been silted up.

CSUCI students clean out a drain at a switchback.

Three first-time volunteers from CalState Channel Islands joined the CORBA crew in building rock walls and digging out drains. They did a great job!

Thanks to all the volunteers who came out to help. You can view more photos in our photo gallery of this event.

California Bike-Themed License Plates

November 6th, 2019

 

You can now order a specialty California license plate with a bicycle theme. The money raised by this license plate will provide grants for bicycle education and advocacy to community organizations at the state and local level.

For years, our friends at CalBike have worked to get California to join the 24 states that have a bicycle specialty license plate program. The new California program allows every car owner to pay extra for a special license plate that shows their support of bicycling. The plate also raises money to support bicycling.

CalBike has been working very closely with California Department of Public Health to design the plate and the program. The DMV has now approved the plate and is taking reservations at https://calbikeplate.com.

The bicycle specialty license plate costs $50. A personalized bicycle license plate costs $103.

The proceeds of the license plate will support education and advocacy to promote bicycling as healthy transportation. For example, grants could support earn-a-bike programs for at-risk youth, community education programs about the importance of bicycling, and share the road education for car drivers and cyclists. CalBike will remain involved as the program develops to make sure the funding supports powerful, effective programs that also lead to social change.

The DPH has to receive 7,500 orders by September 2020, or the DMV won’t issue this plate. Once the 7,500 pre-order threshold is met, the DMV will begin to promote this license plate and will continue to offer it to motorists.

The sooner you place your order, the greater our chances of being able to activate this important funding source for bicycle education.

November Skills Clinic photos posted November 4th

November 4th, 2019

There were only four participants in this month’s Skills Clinic on a very chilly day in the park.

The Basic Skills Clinic is always held the first Saturday of the month at Malibu Creek State Park.

You can see the photos in our November photo gallery.