Letter: ‘Sharing every trail safely is an illusion.’

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Will speeding cyclists disrupt this peaceful jaunt?

Just an illusion?

I am responding to a couple of letters in the April 24 issue of the Pacific Sun by cyclists seeking more access to single-track trails in Marin.

One of the cyclists’ letters mentions spending money in Marin. I’m not sure why this is relevant unless it argues for dollars entitling cyclists to some particular privilege.

The writer notes that all narrow trail users co-exist “just fine” in other counties. This is what someone might think if they have not been present for an injury or death. Personally, I think cars and cyclists co-exist “just fine” on busy roadways—I’ve never seen a cyclist get hit by a car!

Just a couple of weeks ago on Willis Evans trail in Woodacre, a cyclist tore down a blind rise and around a blind curve just ahead of my horse, who, to my great relief, held her ground. Had we been 50 feet further up the trail, one or both of us might have been seriously injured or killed. I screamed, “Stop!”, but the cyclist ignored me and [sped] right past me down the hill. I was amazed. A grown man! These incidents happen not infrequently to me and other equestrians.

I have done all I can to expose my mare to bikes, and she’s a seasoned, solid trail horse. But when a bike flies down a narrow trail or crashes down from a hill or around a blind curve, even she can react.

One cyclist complained about wanting access to trails away from “busy thoroughfares”. I understand. Cyclists, like equestrians, try to minimize the inherent risks of their sport. Cyclists would prefer not to have life and limb dependent on every driver’s courtesy, awareness and skill.

I would like to enjoy hiking and riding without staking my life on every cyclist’s courtesy, awareness and skill. It is simply not possible for all users to share narrow trails safely. I get that cyclists want to enjoy their sport. But sharing every trail safely is an illusion.

Rebecca Bailin, Sausalito

3 COMMENTS

  1. This is why we need more trails and fire roads, not fewer. There is plenty of public Land in Marin but for some incomprehensible reason, many of the park managers are hell bent on reducing the number of trails and fire roads. More people, bikes,runners, hikers and equestrians on fewer trails/roads. Sounds like a match made in heaven.

  2. Agreed, more trails, and perhaps customized trails designed by people who actually hike, bike or ride so there are purpose-built trails with minimal crossover. Many are horrifically offended by Rebecca’s letter. I know dead cyclists and know dead and almost dead runners from cars… Her statement “I’ve never seen a cyclist get hit by a car!” is so slanted and naive it is just ugly- this speaks volumes about her world view. There are almost 700 bicyclists killed by cars every year in America, compared with only about 20 deaths by horse per year total. Elitism from the <1% who can afford horses and want to exclude the more accessible sports from public lands will get us nowhere.

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