First up is info about the JCOS meeting last night. In addition to the social call after the meeting (Ed, Jeny, Steven, JimB, Kyle, Hillary...), there was lots of information presented and public comments on the topics of yielding and trail maintenance. COMBA organized and led the meeting with quite a few members of the public being allowed time to share their views. If you weren't there and you don't support COMBA, what is your excuse? Change starts with all of us. As they stated in the meeting, they need your money but ALSO your time, ideas and passion to help support our MTB access and trails. We had 200 people at the meeting last night which was great but we could have easily had over 1000. Visual impact at meetings like this, showing JCOS how big and active of a user group we are, is important.
Overall I feel the meeting was a positive thing. JCOS got some good info out about both topics although the current yielding enforcement stuff needs to be further addressed. Most trail users aren't having yielding issues and current enforcement tactics are misguided in my opinion. They also claimed only 35 "failure to yield" tickets have been given in the past 10 years but considering I know of over a dozen myself in the past two summers, that's a little hard to believe. Whatever the history, there certainly is an increase in enforcement and all of it essentially coming in "stings", legal or not, making mountain bikers feel like second class citizens on the trail. Bikers, this is our chance to continue to yield properly and also educate others on doing so. JCOS was very big on establishing communication with other trail users to initiate a pass and we can all do that easily.
My opinion is not to let anger over the enforcement tactics distract us as trail users from what we can do during and after a ride to improve the situation. Also bikers are not always wrong, hikers don't hear us (iPods) and horses and their riders can act poorly, but that doesn't give us an excuse not to try and do the right thing. Don't make excuses or be negative, think about what positive actions you can take instead.
The trail maintenance info was very well presented and helped dispel a lot of myths about what they're doing out there and the history of some of our most popular trails. For those of you who really hate the changes at Apex and the Castle trail at Mt.Falcon, did you realize those trails were rebuilt from the ground up in 1993 and 1998 respectively? That was news to me and very interesting. JCOS is actively working to find sustainable alignments for those trails and others which overall is a positive thing. The less time they spend maintaining old trails, the more time they can spend building new ones. Good comments were made about technical terrain and obstacles acting as natural speed brakes which I think is true but it seems JeffCo is in agreement with that in general and they're not trying to make trails easier. Other comments were made about users wanting directional and/or mountain bike only trails. I'm in favor of both options but we'll see what happens.
If you're in favor or against any of this stuff then take the next step and act. Write a letter to your politicians, join COMBA, BMA or whoever is your local MTB advocacy group. Join trail work days whether that's in JeffCo or not. Write letters or comment to you local advocacy group. There are people against MTBs on the trails and they have influence. As the BMA president so aptly pointed out, "the decisions are made by those who show up." So don't just bitch on MTBR, find a positive way to improve the situation.
Alright, enough of my soapbox because I'm far from perfect but I can do better and I'm going to.