Last post I mentioned that a trail on my local ride got shut down. Friday, I heard through the grapevine that ALL the trails in that area are now officially closed. Signs went up and the Ranger is now patrolling the area to issue warnings and citations as needed. The word I'm getting is that the "powers that be" will be making a descision on which trails to re-open in February. In the meantime, if you've ever ridden "Tunnels"...it's gone. Shut-down indefinitely. I can't help but feel these trails will never be re-opened to MTB'ers. I swear, the longer I ride, the more trails get closed to MTB'ers.
What's frustrating is that the people who follow the rules are the ones that get punished. People who don't give a crap and poach trails still get to ride them, whether the trail is closed or not. Yes they they take a gamble on getting a ticket, but how many people that poach actually get caught?
I'm not advocating riding closed trails; quite the opposite considering I was on the Bicycle Assistance Unit for Chino Hills State Park and I now work for the State. Responsible trail use is a topic near and dear to my heart, but obeying trail closures has not resulted in more trails being opened to MTB'ers it's resulted in more trails getting closed! So where's the incentive for the cyclists to obey trail closures?
Yes, protecting sensitive habitats is important to me and so I stay out of closed areas, but what about people who don't give a sh!t? A "Trail Closed" sign doesn't deter them and the citation doesn't seem to carry a big enough fine to prevent people from riding closed trails.
I'll give you another example:
There's a trail in LPQ that has the unfortunate moniker "The Sh!ts". The city had planned on closing the trail because it deemed it unsafe in its current condition and because erosion became a problem. So SDMBA got approved to repair the trail and did so, keeping the trail open. The repair included adding switchbacks so as to control erosion and to stabilize the trail bed. The repar lasted a scant few weeks as people ignored the new switchbacks and rode directly down the fall line of the hill completely obliterating the repair SDMBA took and entire day to perform. A$$holes.
I'm starting to see why other trail user hate MTB'ers so much: we do a lot of damage and seem only to care about getting an adrenaline rush or catching big air. The more time I spend in online forums, the more that viewpoint gets reinforced.
I've spent significant amounts of time educating trail users about responsbile trail use. Recently, I've given up; a curt wave and a polite, "On your left" is what I've reduced my interactions to. Why?
People don't care.
People don't listen.
People won't change their behavior unless they get something out of it.
Last time I rode in LPQ I saw someone riding a Hiking and Equestrian only trail. I caught him as our trails merged and reminded him the trail he had been on was closed. I got a shrug. I mentioned the access problems we were having and asked him to help us out. Another shrug followed by an acceleration. That's your average trail user for you. " I don't care about my impact, I just wanna get my ride on."
So close it down if you must intrepid Ranger and City Manager. I'll find new places to ride.