Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The EBRPD's fundamental policy problem

Since the EBRPD closed East Ridge without providing any alternate route for people on bicycles to complete the single legal ride in the park, they've received a lot of justifiably angry letters. Their response?

Quote: "Although some day riders will be affected, the majority of riders can still complete the loop after 5pm and on weekends. We do have other options at Anthony Chabot which is just a few miles away."

[In summary, "Too bad...sucks to be you."]

Quote: "We are not able to open up trails to bikes without a thorough review process and approval from our board of directors."

This response highlights the fundamental policy problem: The EBRPD assumes that hikers and horses are legitimate park users, and that any impact they have, no matter how substantial, is acceptable. Any restriction on hikers and horses is viewed as a special case.

In contrast, the EBRPD assumes that people on bicycles are not legitimate park users, that any impact they have (even though it's substantially less than horses and roughly equal to hikers) is unacceptable, and that allowing cyclists to use any part of their own parks is a special, exceptional privilege requiring approval at the highest possible level.

This policy must change. Bicycling is a low-impact, human-powered, environmentally sound way for people to explore their parklands and open space, and as such, people on bicycles deserve no less than equal treatment and equal access.

Until then, the EBRPD doesn't deserve our support -- or our money. No "Measure AA extension!"

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