Comments regarding the change-in-use (CIU) to add mt. bikes must be submitted by Jan. 31, 2022. Those wishing to share their thoughts, concerns or ideas on the project are urged to email them to firstname.lastname@example.org for review. Officials ask to make the subject line “Browns Ravine,” on the submissions. If passed, implementation of CIU modifications could start later this year.
"Trail users are once again butting heads regarding the allowance of bicyclists on Browns Ravine Trail, an unpaved, 11-mile track connecting Browns Ravine to the Old Salmon Falls trailhead.
Although changes-in-use (CIU) have been requested on nearly all trails within the Folsom Lake State Recreation Area where bike use is currently not allowed, the Browns Ravine Trail CIU is being evaluated as a separate project due to its relatively gentle terrain, good sight lines and connection to other multi-use trails. Efforts to allow bikes on the trail date back to 2000.
El Dorado Hills resident Mike Finta has fought bike use on this stretch for almost as long as he has lived on his property, 1,200 feet of which butts up against the Browns Ravine Trail.
“I have witnessed speeding, illegal mountain bikers spook horses by zooming up behind them, in one case causing a horse to almost throw its rider onto a barbed wire fence,” Finta told Village Life. “I have watched startled hikers stumble into the weeds or fall down the drop-off next to the trail and the mountain bikers rode by laughing at them.”
The 25-year resident went on to describe another biker who rode through his dog’s lead, ripping the lead from his dog’s neck.
“I have no problem with mountain bikers being on the trail,” Finta insisted, mentioning e-bikes as an added contributor to high velocity encounters. “The basic issue is the safety.
“However, in all these years, I have never seen or even heard of a park ranger being deployed with a radar gun, stopping speeding bikers on the Browns Ravine Trail and issuing citations, even though it has been off limits to bikes … the entire time,”
“A speed limit on the trail is incredibly difficult for us to try to enforce,” said Folsom Sector Superintendent Richard Preston-LeMay at a virtual public meeting held earlier this month. “I think the modifications will help with some of the sight lines and assist with the safety out there. I do not anticipate posting speed limit signs all over the trail.”
Modifications included in the change in use (CIU) request outline trail reroutes, reconstruction of trail segments and bridges as well as repair and installation of drainage features.
Preston-LeMay also displayed accident history for the Folsom Lake Trail system over the past 10 years. Five accidents occurred on Browns Ravine Trail: three solo bike accidents, one horse versus pedestrian accident and one solo horse accident.
From Mother Lode Trails: Park Watch Report provided 100 trail incident reports for Folsom Lake SRA trails that have not been taken into consideration by State Parks. CA State Parks has no public reporting function to collect conflict and accident data to apply to possible CIU trail designations. Browns Ravine Trail has been used illegally by mt. bikers for years without citations. Many bikers exceed the park speed limit knowing the Park Superintendent Preston-LeMay has ordered no speed limit signs.
Finta further cited the state park trails handbook specifies a multi-use trail must be 48 inches wide; on Browns Ravine Trail there are areas where the trail spans a mere 18 inches. “There are 100-foot sections here and there that physically cannot be modified,” he said, referring to steep terrain.
State Park Associate Landscape Architect Jason Spann maintained that the trails handbook actually specifies a minimum width of 36 inches and assured that the inconsistency was due to an outdated appendices section. “We are looking at widening some locations to help better meet that standard,” he said, stating that the ability of users to safely yield to others is the ultimate goal. “A lot of times you may have very short distances where you can’t get 36 inches that doesn’t really create any sort of hazard.”
Although local mountain biker Jeff Barker concedes that there are bikers who ride too fast, he said they make up the minority. “That’s such a small percentage of the actual users,” he shared. “That’s not any reason to keep an entire user group from enjoying something that is perfectly fine to share. It’s a public trail and public land.” He also notes what he sees as a lack of equity in bike-legal trail miles, 45 out of the 94 miles of trails within the Folsom Lake SRA.
Regarding the narrow points on the trail, Barker asserted that a flat shoulder permits safe passing. “On this particular trail, because of all the turns and some of the rough nature of it, there’s a lot of slowing elements like rocks or pinch points; you’re just not going that fast,” he said.
The trail is bookended by multi-use sections, requiring bikers who seek to legally link them in a single ride to navigate streets where there is often no shoulder. Barker said he’s excited the CIU will not only provide this connection, but also a better trail experience. He looks forward to attending future events to promote trail etiquette. “The high school and middle schools that are involved with the mountain bike programs, they get a ton of education. They’re the best behaved cyclists in the world,” he said.
“It’s been a popular bike trail. It’s been safe,” Barker added. “They’re just investing in this fear as reason to justify keeping something that actually works from moving forward. Haters are gonna hate.”
Finta isn’t alone in his aversion to trail bikers. “I’m heartbroken that they’re considering it again,” shared equestrian Cathy Andrews, who has lived next to the trail for 20 years and rides it almost daily. “People have reported that there are no accidents but it’s just not true. You get tired of reporting it to the park service when they do nothing.”
Andrews has proposed a dual trail like the one developed at Jenkinson Lake.
On the other hand, marathon runner Krista Campbell has been using the trail for 35 years and welcomes the bikers. “I feel like it’s a really safe trail,” said Campbell, who finds poison oak and snakes more dangerous than the bikers. “I’m all for the bikes because there’s bikes already. It’s a space we all share.” Nevertheless, Campbell expressed concern over what trail improvements may bring, including the possibility of increased traffic, litter and speed. “Without those obstacles that once were there, the bikes are going to go faster,” she cautioned.
Comments regarding the CIU must be submitted to email@example.com by Jan. 31. If passed, implementation of CIU modifications could start later this year and continue through 2024.
-Article by Sel Richard
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