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County agrees to open Placerita Canyon trail to mountain bikers

Local hiking group leader says it's not safe for hikers and bikers on same trail

Posted: October 5, 2012 5:59 p.m.
Updated: October 5, 2012 5:59 p.m.

No-bicycles signs still stand at the trailhead of the Canyon Trail at the Placerita Nature Center on Thursday.

 

Local cycling enthusiasts are applauding a recent county decision to reopen a trail for mountain biking, but hikers say they have safety concerns.

The Canyon Trail in the Placerita Canyon Natural Area has been restricted to hikers since June 2011. But that changed Wednesday when the county of Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation decided to allow mountain bikes back on the trail.

The trail’s initial closure sparked controversy in local cycling circles. An online petition gathered 532 signatures in favor of allowing bikes back on the trail.

“We’re very pleased that the county saw fit to determine that the Canyon Trail with modifications and signage can be made safe for all user groups,” said Kevin Korenthal, one of the founding members of the SCV Trail Users, a local cycling group.

Bikes won’t be allowed back on the trail until new construction and maintenance has been performed, including “pinch points” to slow bike traffic in certain areas, erosion control measures and additional signs posted for bikers.

The trail is tentatively set to open for bikes in March 2013.

“As we go forward, I think our group will continue to build on advocating for safe mountain biking, good trail etiquette and move toward working with more user groups to open more trails in the area,” Korenthal said.

But some local hikers are not pleased with the county’s decision. Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel, director of the local Community Hiking Club, said she may never set foot on the trail again once bikers are allowed on it.

Erskine-Hellrigel said she was once leading a nature hike when two bicyclists raced down the trail, slamming her into a cliff face and giving her a concussion. To her, bikes should be banned from the trail as safety matter.

“There’s just no room for speeding mountain bicyclists,” she said.

Korenthal said he understands the safety concerns of hiking groups because they are concerns bikers share as well.

“It is very important that this is done correctly,” Korenthal said. “We want to make sure that their goals, which are our goals, are fulfilled.”

But Erskine-Hellrigel said she is unconvinced that all bikers will follow safety rules, including well-intentioned etiquette rules.

“It only takes two yahoos to cause damage on the trail,” she said. “How can you reach everybody?”

lmoney@the-signal.com
661-287-5525

 

 

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