The Marin mountain bike group fights for more trail access (good luck)

If you’re not deeply familiar with Marin County, California, and you’re a mountain biker, you might think of it as a bucolic, redwood-wrapped system of beautiful single-track trails winding over streams. dripping, emerging from the trees for ocean views, and leading to charming towns with plenty of beer and coffee options. The birthplace of mountain biking, full of dedicated cyclists and bike shops. And you would be absolutely right, because it’s all true. But you can’t walk these trails.

No, no, they’re just hikers, enforced by rangers who wake up every morning, stare at themselves in the bathroom mirror as they firmly button the top button of their starched uniforms, grit their teeth and vow to bust as many riders for riding illegal trails as they can.

The problem with being one of the historic cradles of trail riding is that no one really knew what mountain biking was in the 70s and early 80s – what were motorcycles? Dishonest authorities, as they tend to do, banned something before they figured out what it was. As the sport grew over the decades, other communities saw that cyclists and hikers could co-exist very well and welcomed mountain biking onto their trails, or built entirely new ones. trail systems just for them.

But Marin still had those anti-cycling laws on the books and a fierce lobby of hikers and equestrian groups who vehemently opposed trail sharing. They hold the upper hand. This has become the de facto assumption at Marin – no bikes allowed. Countless mountain bikers have left the county, seeking communities that are more open to riding. Countless others play games of cat and mouse with rangers, walking trails with their eyes tied behind their backs watching the down.

The Marin County Bicycle Coalition wants to change that. They are opening a new dialogue with the county’s open space planners on June 8 and launching a campaign called “Reimagine Mt Tam” (Mount Tamalpais, “Tam” is Marin County’s iconic high point). The group hopes to start breaking down the walls that separate cyclists from hikers, to create a more inclusive trail system. The governing body of the Mount Tam watershed, the Marin Watershed Municipal District, begins a year-long planning session on June 8 to create the future of recreation in the region.

If you want to participate, you can join the community zoom meeting when the MMWD opens the proceedings.

Photo: Justin Housman

Maria R. Newman