23/01/2022 By RuneLite
As a 71-year-old equestrian who has been riding trails all over Marin County since 1972, many years before the advent of the mountain bike, I am horrified to hear about yet another wreck caused by irresponsible aggressive mountain bikers.
Linda Giudice suffered a broken wrist in three places, a shattered eye socket and a broken jaw that had to be wired shut. I wish her speedy healing.
Since I have an excess of 60,000 trail miles on my horses over more than six decades, I have encountered many more mountain bikes than most horse riders would ever see. I was a member of Marin Municipal Water District mounted patrol when it existed. I give credit to the many polite cyclists who comprise the great majority of the ones I’ve encountered.
Unfortunately, there are a few who are fueled by a combination of righteousness, adrenaline and anger who don’t want anyone on foot, whether it be a horse or a human, getting in the way of their speed thrills. They have no desire to share the trails. They demonstrate that they want to dominate the trails regardless of the lawful yield priorities posted on many signs throughout the parks.
I applaud the “slow and say hello” joint program between Marin Horse Council and the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. Learning to coexist on the trails together safely is key.
Horses are prey animals and, as such, they are prone to run away from anything speeding at them that they are not desensitized to. Some are just naturally less confident than others, no different than people or dogs.
I’m very lucky I’ve had very self-confident, nearly unflappable horses during numerous encounters attempting safe passage with obnoxious, aggressive cyclists who refused to yield and threatened me with violence if I did not immediately get out of their way. Two adult men, at different times, tried to shove their bike in my horse’s face.
On one occasion, a cyclist with two attack dogs equipped with radio collars said he’d sic the dogs on my husband and I if we didn’t immediately move out of his way.
Another was at China Camp State Park as I tried to navigate safe passage by an impatient cyclist who pushed past five horses, his bike up in the horses’ faces.
I always report incidents like these to the authorities.
Non-motorized bikes can’t climb uphill fast. So, prior to the invention of the electric-assist bikes, someone on foot or a horse only had to look for bikes coming downhill at them. But now, with e- bikes, one has to worry about them coming from either direction, even both in a rare instance, caught in the middle like a bike sandwich.
Saying that cyclists will stay at lower speeds is unrealistic. We are already sorely lacking in any enforcement on our trails and things will get amped up even further. Opening up the floodgates to further dangerous incidents is just wrong.
At this point, I think it would be a really good idea to license all bicycles the same way we do cars and dogs. If one can’t even have a dog without a license, one should not have a bike without a license. The identification must be big enough to read at a distance. Trails should be monitored with cameras and speed detectors. Enforcement must be radically stepped up.
I also frequently walk the Tiburon Old Rail Trail (which I roller-skated for 35 years for exercise when I was younger). Despite being designated as a multiuse path, some cyclists break the speed-limit rules and fly dangerously close to walkers and families on or near the path.
My message to all cyclists: Please slow down and it wouldn’t hurt to say hello.
Duffy Hurwin is an equestrian living in Tiburon.