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CORRECTION: Trail meeting gathers large response

Changes decision makers for trail plan

Posted: July 13, 2012 9:05 a.m.
Updated: July 13, 2012 9:05 a.m.
 

 

About 200 hikers, horseback riders and mountain bikers met for a single purpose this week — determining whether hikers and horseback riders can peacefully coexist with mountain bikers on two local trails.

Much of the controversy during Thursday night’s county-sponsored public meeting centered around the Canyon Trail in Placerita Canyon, which had a sign mistakenly posted in 2007 that allowed access for mountain bikers as well as hikers and equestrians.

Noting the trail was not meant for mountain bikers, the county discovered the mistake and removed the sign in 2011, to the dismay and displeasure of local mountain bikers, who protested loudly.

The protests prompted a county study on the situation, and the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation recommended that the trail be opened to mountain bikers. But the county would have to make safety improvements to do so, including adding signs, installing “pinch points” — areas that narrow the trail to force mountain bikers to slow — and adding signs warning mountain bikers of slow speed zones.

Following a staff presentation Thursday night, members of all three interest groups gathered in small groups and bounced ideas off each other for staff to record. Most of the discourse seemed civil and most participants were simply interested in keeping everyone who uses the trail safe.

“All I care about is safety and the ability to pass on corners,” said Linda Tarnoff, a Placerita Canyon resident who both hikes and rides horses. “To me, it’s a privilege to have these trails.”

One Stevenson Ranch mountain biker, who also hikes with his two young sons, said his goal in trying to open the trail for bikes is simply for connectivity with other area trails that are open to bikes.

“We try to stay away from areas like this,” said Randy Geniec. “It’s not fun to ride because there are too many hikers.”

Some residents said the county should consider separate trails and areas for each group, stress trail etiquette for everyone, ban hikers from using headphones and work on enforcing an actual speed limit.

Although negative comments about both mountain bikers and equestrians were overheard, at least one horseback rider said she gets along just fine with mountain bikers.

“I’ve ridden Placerita when we had bikers there and they were extremely polite,” said Teresa Spencer of Acton.
Others were more vehement about not allowing mountain bikers on the trail.

For a Placerita Canyon docent who leads schoolchildren on hikes in Placerita Canyon, mountain bikers shouldn’t be allowed to ride in the canyon because of safety issues.

“You cannot sit in the quiet and listen for nature when you’re afraid of getting run over,” said Lisa Merkord. “If the bikers are allowed on the Canyon Trail, we cannot lead the children.”

The Parks Department is expected to consider Thursday night’s comments for both the Canyon Trail and the Heritage Trail in the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area — which has been recommended to remain closed to mountain bicycles — before rendering a decision on the plan.

If the Parks Department does approve the plan, it would still have to make preliminary cost estimates, prioritize improvements, identify funding sources and complete the initial safety improvements before bicycles would be allowed on the trail.

The public will be able to comment on the plan until July 19 at 5 p.m. To comment, send emails to lbradley@parks.lacounty.gov.


The full text of the documents are available at http://parks.lacounty.gov/.


For more information on the proposed plan for both trails, visit http://www.the-signal.com/section/36/article/69801/.


kjonas@the-signal.com
661-287-5517

 

 

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