Trail blazers


Those looking to spend a relaxing afternoon biking the trails of Marin’s China Camp or Mt. Tam state parks often find themselves narrowly dodging those oblivious or rebellious cyclists who fail to follow the rules. Speeders and cut-offers may not abound, but the occasional rogue sure is pesky when he or she careens past. To keep those rascals under control, Bicycle Trails Council of Marin and Access 4 Bikes are sponsoring Marin Bike Patrol, a volunteer organization dedicated to keeping Marin fire roads and trails safe and accessible.

“There are more people riding bikes today then ever before. There’s potential for conflict, so we just want to be proactive,” says Tom Boss, membership director of Marin County Bicycle Coalition.

The Marin Bike Patrol partners with local land managers to assist trail users and promote responsible mountain-biking. Patrolling in pairs and equipped with radios, Marin Bike Patrol members provide a vital link between recreational trail users and park staff.

“We’re focusing on mountain bikers, just making sure they’re following the rules and riding responsibly,” he says. “A lot of the agencies are underfunded, so they’re looking for ways to patrol and report for obstacles on the trail.”

The Marin Bike Patrol started patrolling at China Camp State Park in July and is working with land managers to expand the service to other parks in Marin. Patrollers are receiving training from the California State Parks’ Volunteer in Parks program and from the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s national mountain-bike patrol, which is modeled after the successful National Ski Patrol.

But Boss insists that the Marin Bike Patrol isn’t a reaction against anything specific. “Interestingly enough, we really haven’t had any negative experience ourselves. When we’re out there on the trails and fire roads, most people seem to be getting along just fine,” he says. “There isn’t one group that is better or worse than the other. We just want to make sure that we diffuse any conflict that may be out there and educate our riders.”

Bike Patrollers’ jobs include reporting and responding to injuries and accidents; troubleshooting trail hazards, obstacles and dangers; assisting riders with faulty equipment; educating trail users about safe and low-impact trail usage; and building relationships among the various trail users. The organization is currently in need of more volunteers, and anyone is invited to sign up. Those interested are welcome to attend a training session on Oct. 12 at China Camp State Park, from 9am to 1pm.

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