One of the goals of Access4Bikes is to open some narrow hike and bike trails that are too narrow for equestrians. Many opponents of mountain biking say that this is unacceptable due to safety and erosion concerns.
Access4Bikes believes that Wagon Wheel is a perfect example, and proof, that narrow hike & bike trails can exist in Marin with no safety or conflict issues. In 1997 the land that Wagon Wheel resides upon was acquired by Open Space and since the trail was already in existence it was decided to let it remain bike legal. At the time the anti-bike groups fought this decision but Open Space decided to allow it as a test. To quote the 1997 IJ article,
“There are a lot of concerns, but we agreed to give them a chance,” said Jean Berensmeier, a member of the county Open Space and Cultural Commission. “But this will be monitored, and if it doesn’t work we can change it.”
Wagon Wheel has now been open nearly 14 years and we can find no accidents, incidents or reports of problems with hikers and bikers sharing this trail. The only incident we have found is a case of a biker falling, and no hikers were injured.
If mixing hikers and bikers is so dangerous, why have there been no incidents? If there were issues Access4Bikes is confident that we would have heard about them and this trail would have been restricted. However, the fact remains that there have been no issues. Many of us at Access4Bikes ride this trail and interact with runners and hikers with no problems.
Why is this? One factor that many mountain bike opponents ignore is the fact that bikes cannot go fast on narrow trails. Due to the technical nature of the trail, speeds are automatically controlled. Since this trail is heavily used by bikes going in both directions, if there were real safety issues related to speed wouldn’t there have been head on collisions between bikes? Again, Access4Bikes has been unable to locate any incidents on Wagon Wheel so obviously the speed concerns are overblown as there have been no head on accidents between bikes.
Access4Bikes hopes that we can garner support from everyone who likes to bike to request that our land managers look at the facts and accommodate the reasonable desire of mountain bikers to enjoy our trails on bikes.