Posts Tagged ‘multi-use’

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. 

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!


In My Backyard (IMBY)

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

By Mark Langton

Please slow down on Rosewood Trail

You might not know that in addition to being President of CORBA, I am also the chair of the Conejo Open Space Trails Advisory Committee (COSTAC), a Thousand Oaks city-appointed committee to the Conejo Open Space  Conservation Agency (COSCA).  So while I ride all over the Santa Monica mountains and beyond, COSCA is IMBY.

At our most recent COSTAC meeting, a member of the public brought to our attention that several local residents who use the Santa Rosa Trail off Lynn Road on a frequent basis have been seeing increased speed and discourteous behavior by mountain bikers coming downhill on the trail. The Santa Rosa Trail just so happens to be the closest trail to my house and I literally ride it at least once a week, if not more. So this is really IMBY!

One of the more disturbing reports was that riders are not slowing down while passing hikers and other mountain bikers. All I can say is, please slow down on Rosewood Trail and the Los Robles Trail as well (aka Switchbacks or Space Mountain).

Rangers will be increasing their presence on these routes and reminding people to slow down when approaching corners and around other users. While they are not usually prone to writing citations, they do have the authority to do so. Please respect COSCA’s shared use policies and ride respectfully around other users on these and all shared use trails. Thanks!



2012 Trails and Greenways Conference

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012
Multi-use trail event.

Multi-use trails. We can and must get along.

CORBA was very much involved in last week’s California Trails and Greenways Conference. This annual event brings together land managers at the Federal, State, County and City levels, along with resource planners, volunteers, non-profit organizations and professional landscape architects and trail builders.

The theme for this year’s conference was “Navigating Radical Change.”  The most radical of all changes that land managers are facing is the shrinking of budgets for trail and open space projects. Another is the changing demographic of trail users.

Navigating radical change - mutli-use friendly pinch points

Navigating radical change - mutli-use friendly pinch points on Tapia Spur

Many sessions at the conference talked about the importance of engaging volunteers, of reaching out to foster public-private partnerships between land managers and non profit advocacy groups.
CORBA has already been putting into practice many of these principles, partnering with the Forest Service and State Parks to help maintain trails; partnering with the So Cal High School League to empower the next generation of off-road cyclists as advocates and stewards.

CORBA President Mark Langton participated in a rousing panel presentation on the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency, a multi-use trail system that has worked successfully with minimal conflict for more than two decades.  An entertaining keynote address was given by conservation celebrity Ed Begley Junior. He treated the attendees to stories of how and why he came to be so ingrained within the conservation movement.

Among the volunteer groups in attendance, there were at least five bicycling advocacy groups represented. IMBA’s new regional director Patrick Kell was there, along with representatives from the San Diego Mountain Bike Association, Central Coast Concerned Mountain Bikers, Santa Barbara Trail Volunteers, CORBA, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition and other groups.

Cycling trail advocates from across California

Cycling trail advocates from across California

On Friday morning of the conference, 8 bicycle adovocates joined Steve Messer and past CORBA board member Hans Kiefer in a tour of Rocky Peak. They had a great ride, showing once again that there is some great mountain biking around Los Angeles.

A conference such as this is vital for bringing disparate user groups, land managers and trail stewards together, where we always learn we have much more in common than we think. The fact that working together is often the only way anything can be accomplished was one of the most important take-home messages from the conference.

Everyone can get along

Everyone can get along

On Saturday, after the conference, Orange County’s Trails4All brought 6 equestrians, 4  hikers, and about a dozen mountain bikers from CORBA, SHARE, SDMBA, CCCMB together for a ride/hike/run/hoof event. We travelled together on the trails of Malibu Creek State Park, showing again that where there is respect and cooperation it is very possible for all user groups to co-exist peacefully on the trails.

Our since thanks to the organizers, the presenters, the sponsors, and to all our fellow attendees at the conference. These meetings underscore the importance of working together, and create at an atmosphere conducive to constructive and informative exchanges of information and viewpoints. We look forward to next year’s Trails and Greenways conference in Lake Tahoe.

Bikes, horses, hikers and runners

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


CORBA is part of a larger multi-use oriented Volunteer Community in the Angeles National Forest

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

Feb 2012 Volunteer NewsletterIn many discussions between different trail user groups, the fact often emerges that we all share many common goals and attitudes about trails. Most trail user groups want to help maintain trails for the benefit of all; they want to minimize damage to our public lands, while preserving recreational access in perpetuity. We want to protect and preserve what precious little open space remains for future generations to enjoy and recreate; we want our children and successors to be able to experience the great outdoors, learn from it, and be inspired by the wonders of nature. We want to see responsible trail use, with mutual respect for other trail users, for wildlife and nature, and for the environment.

Where all these groups sometimes differ is how we choose to enjoy our public lands, and the extent or methods of the protections needed to achieve those goals. Some choose to ride mountain bikes; others prefer to hike, trail run, climb, ride horses, take OHV’s, sail, kayak, camp and and any number of other activities. We all seek the peace of the forest and to escape the city in our great mountains. While there are differences, the common grounds are what should bring us together.

This is nowhere more evident than in the Angeles National Forest, where trails (outside of wilderness areas) are all multi-use. The Forest Service’s multi-use policy fosters cooperation and where needed, compromise between these groups. Every other month volunteers from the LA River Ranger District of the Angeles National Forest gets together with forest officials to be updated on what’s happening in the forest, what each group is working on. We share information and first-hand reports of our accomplishments, our upcoming projects and our observations with each other and Forest Service officials. It’s a great way to coordinate activities, and set up collaborations that further our common goals. Similar meetings take place in other districts in this, and other National Forests.

The various volunteers groups are each passionate about what they do, whether it is acting as campground hosts, patrolling trails, doing trailwork, protecting and documenting forest history, restoring habitat, removing invasive plants, or just disseminating information and respect for the forest among their members and supporters.

Each month intrepid volunteer Guy Kuhn puts together the volunteer newsletter, a summary of the reports and interactions from each of the meetings and gleaned from the web sites of each volunteer group. CORBA reports on our trailwork projects, completed and upcoming, along with fellow IMBA chapter Mount Wilson Bicycling Association. Forest officials give us the inside information on what’s happening in the forest, and what we can expect in the coming months. We learn the fiscal and other challenges faced by the forest, and look for ways to contribute.

The multi-use policy and resulting cooperation between user groups is a win-win for everyone involved. The Forest would be hard-pressed to function without its volunteers.

If you’d like to learn more read the latest volunteer newsletter featuring reports on trailwork projects from CORBA, MWBA, San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders, Mounted Patrol (equestrian), Angeles Mountain Bike Patrol, Sierra Club, Boy Scouts, Forest Lookout association and other groups.



Multi-Use Signs on El Prieto

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Since the trail re-opened in May this year, El Prieto has seen heavy use by cyclists eager to get back to the trails Friends of El Prieto, Banner Moffat mounts the multi-use sign to the newly installed post.they love. Recently there have been a few complaints from hikers being startled by bicycles on El Prieto.

Multi-Use SignCORBA donated to the Forest Service a set of IMBA multi-use trail guideline signs to be installed on El Prieto. Signs are needed to help inform and remind cyclists to be aware of other trail users and slow down and yield to hikers and equestrians. If cyclists want respect on the trails, we have to give respect to other trail users. IMBA’s “Rules of the Trail” are the standard to which we need to hold ourselves and our fellow riders.

Banner Moffat of the Friends of El Prieto and Steve Messer from CORBA spent Thursday afternoon, August 25, carrying in the signs, posts and tools. They installed the first sign near the picnic bench mid-trail that afternoon. The remaining signs at the top and bottom of the trail were installed by Banner and volunteer Ben Bertiger the following day.

All of the trails open to bicycles in Southern California are multi-use, and hikers or equestrians love the trails as much as we do. We urge riders to be respectful of other trail users, to help ensure that these trails remain multi-use, and to strengthen our case to open new trails to bicycles.


Banner and Steve with the newly installed sign


Tapia Spur Trail to Undergo Shared-Use Upgrades Starting in September

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

State Parks has announced that the multi-use Tapia Spur Trail in Malibu Creek State Park/Tapia Park will undergo several changes to address the trail’s ability to sustain shared use by hikers, equestrians, and mountain bikers. The work is tentatively set to begin in September of 2011.

According to State Parks’ Tapia Spur Trail project description (Tapia Spur Trail Muli-Use Work Project Report – PDF), dated April 12, 2011, Tapia Spur Trail lacks a variety of components necessary to adequately accommodate multi-use moving forward based on new multi-use guidelines, and therefore intends to implement several multi-use components that will bring the trail up to current multi-use guidelines. These components include brushing (which has already begun), improved drainage and increased tread width, speed control sections in areas lacking sight distance, and realignment of one stretch of trail  to increase sight distance and redirect the trail off the fall line.

Of particular interest to CORBA are the components of “sinuosity” (the trail weaving in and out of the topography to create a curvy alignment) and “pinch points” (placement of items such as rocks or logs that create a perceived narrow point in the trail corridor). Both of these components have been used in other areas with good results; that of slowing the mountain biker while maintaining an enjoyable experience for the cyclist, hiker, and equestrian. As I have previously stated, slowing down around other trail users can virtually eliminate the complaints by those who say that mountain bikes are dangerous because they go too fast. While most cyclists are in control of their bikes when passing other trail users, the perception of speed–even a few miles per hour–can reduce or even spoil another user’s trail experience, including other mountain bikers. We’re all out there for the same reason, to enjoy nature. Treating others with respect is part of that enjoyment.

CORBA is encouraged by this upgrade project as it will allow State Parks to work more closely with the trail user community in implementing shared use concepts and guidelines. Tapia Spur Trail can become a showcase of proper multi-use practices, and with the assistance and cooperation of the mountain bike community, we can potentially have a comprehensive example of multi-use guideline implementation. CORBA has been assured that mountain bikers will be considered in every step of component implementation on this important trail link from Malibu Creek State Park to Tapia Park.

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind the mountain bike community that CORBA’s funding and volunteer needs are ongoing. Trail work volunteers are still needed, as well as funding for CORBA Trail Crew tools and other supplies. Just recently State Parks released a comprehensive trail crew leader training schedule, and in addition to trail workers, we also need those interested in becoming trained and certified as trail crew leaders. Training starts July 7 so we need volunteers immediately. To contact CORBA, email, and go to our Join/Donate page to to help support CORBA’s efforts.

All Fun at June 18th CORBA Beginner Ride

Monday, June 20th, 2011


Nine beginners at Sycamore Canyon (Point Mugu State Park)

Nine mountain bikers turned up for CORBA’s Beginner Ride in Sycamore Canyon (Rancho Sierra Vista/Point Mugu State Park). We started our ride on nice double track leading through the meadows of the National Park Service property of Rancho Sierra Vista. Once at the top of famous Blacktop Hill we took a moment to talk about safety of descending the hill: Watch ahead for gravel on the corners, control speed (max 15 mph), slow down for other trail users, perhaps say “Hello” and last but not least… have fun!

Once down the hill we turned west onto Ranch Center Road, unfortunately passing by the fun side route known as Art’s Trail, which was closed a year ago due to archeological concerns (read here about Art’s trail). After some climbing on the paved road … our reward. Wood Canyon fire road and two great single tracks, Two Foxes and Sin Nombre. I think I speak for all of us when I say we had a great time! No one even complained that we had to finish our ride with a final climb back up Blacktop to  Rancho Sierra Vista. Not only that, they smiled! Just check out the picture.

14 miles, 1300 feet of climbing, all smiles!


The 14-mile ride took us about three hours and had 1,300 feet of climbing, and by all accounts was pure fun!

I would like to thank everyone for joining the CORBA/North Ranch Mountain Bikers Beginner Ride. Check out the pictures.

Hope to see you on my next ride! Visit CORBA calendar and see you on the trails!

– Danusia Bennett-Taber

Hikers, Bikers and Equestrians Share Trails

Monday, April 11th, 2011



Today, Sunday April 10, about one hundred trail users descended upon Sunol Regional Wilderness Park in the Bay Area’s East Bay Regional Parks district. But this was no ordinary group of trail users. Among the multi-use advocates were about 40 mountain bikers, 30 hikers and 30 equestrians, all riding together as a diverse group.

This was a kick-off event for the 2011 California Trails and Greenways Conference, a California State Parks hosted event bringing land managers, planners, trail advocates and trail users together. The theme of this year’s conference is “Engaging Youth and Diversity.”

Today’s ride was a clear demonstration that multi-use principles can work. Cyclists, Hikers and Equestrians can share trails successfully when there is mutual respect from each group. One of the cyclists, a CORBA friend in a CORBA jersey, even swapped “vehicles” with an equestrian (pictured). Events like this bring the trail user community together and everyone wins.

The day started with a fire-road climb to Camp Ohlene, where lunch was served. For the return trip the trail chosen was a very narrow singletrack with some exposure, that is normally closed to bikes and equestrians. It was about six-miles each way, with 1400′ of elevation change. Even on narrow singletrack trails like this, everyone can peacefully co-exist no matter how they choose to experience our open spaces.

CORBA board members Danusia Bennet-Taber and Steve Messer, and CORBA Advisor and founding Director Jim Hasenauer are among the conference attendees, along with representatives from mountain bike advocacy groups from as far away as San Diego and Arcata. It’s a great opportunity to network with trail advocates and land managers and learn from each other, working towards our common goals.

Over the coming days there will be multiple presentaitons on best-practices for trail design, trail maintenance and management. Among the presenters are CORBA founder Kurt Loheit, a nationally-recognized trailbuilding guru, Nat and Rachel Lopes of Hilride, representatives from California State Parks, California Department of Transportation, the Alliance for Biking and Walking, and numerous land managers, trailbuilding experts, advocates and volunteer program coordinators from around the state.

The conference gets underway on Monday, April 11 with a series of day-long concurrent workshops. Over the following days there are over 80 concurrent sessions covering topics as broad and diverse as California’s trails.

Solving the Speed Dilemma

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

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.