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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

NPS Addresses Increase in Cycling Issues

• New Speed Sharing GPS Technology May Be a Contributing Factor

BY SUZANNE GULDIMANN

In response to increased complaints and collisions on local trails, the National Park Service has teamed with the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclist Association (CORBA) to promote safe and courteous riding in the Santa Monica Mountains, a press release states.
“We’re thrilled that there is great demand for the public to enjoy the beauty and public health benefits of our extensive trail system,” said Melanie Turner, law enforcement ranger and mountain bike unit coordinator with Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. “For the benefit and safety of all users, we ask people to follow proper trail etiquette and observe the 15 mph speed limit.”
According to the NPS, rangers are reporting an increase in visitor complaints regarding cyclists who are riding too fast or in restricted areas.
Recent incidents in the Malibu area have reportedly included problems involving cyclists and equestrians.
In the past year, several accidents involving cyclists and pedestrians have resulted in helicopter evacuaions, according to Turner.
Turner, who describes herself as “an avid mountain biker,” has raised the question of whether a new website “that allows riders to publicly post their times on specific trails has led to an increase in violations.”
Strava.com, a website that enables cyclists and runners to share speed and time data recorded by the athlete's smart phone or GPS unit, shows speeds of up to 35 mph, with average speeds of 25 mph, on some trails in the Santa Monica Mountains.
“Made aware of the problem, Strava is working with Turner to prohibit users from posting times on certain trails, along with a message about trail regulations,” the press release states.
“As part of its mission to promote safe riding, CORBA is working closely with SMMNRA, a unit of the National Park Service, to inform its members about these concerns and remind them about responsible riding tips,” Turner said.
“If you just slow down around other users, including other cyclists, you create a win-win for everyone,” said Mark Langton, president of CORBA.
“Speed is subjective; what one person might think is slow might still be too fast. Even at 10 mph you can startle someone and disrupt their enjoyment of our open space. If you slow down, you literally solve the problem most people have with bicycles on the trail—that they go too fast and scare other users.”
Turner says she attended a recent CORBA meeting and is visiting local bike shops to let the community know that rangers will be stepping up patrols and issuing citations. Both organizations hope the efforts will result in a safe and enjoyable trail experience for all users.
All trail users are reminded that equestrians always have the right of way, followed by pedestrians. Cyclists are required by law to yield to all other trail users.
More information on COBRA is available at www.corbamtb.com.

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