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Bicyclists ticketed on trails seeking more access, ponder next move

<i>KPIX</i><br/>Riders admit they were off a designated trail
Riders admit they were off a designated trail

By Len Ramirez

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    PLEASANTON, California (KPIX) — Members of the East Bay mountain biking community plan an informational gathering at the Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park parking lot on Sunday morning over the recent citations of more than a dozen riders by park police.

Riders admit they were off a designated trail, but they don’t think the crackdown was warranted.

“They see people coming down the trail and as soon as they break out of the trail, ticket. Ticket, ticket ticket. 270 dollars,” said mountain bike rider Ron Balthasar.

The parks police chief says it was justified.

“It was off limits, it was posted. There was environmental damage was taking place, so we were at a place that we were going to issue tickets to anyone who came into that area,” said East Bay Regional Parks District Chief Anthony Ciaburro.

The battle over trail use has been going on for decades, but began heating up to a new level after COVID hit. More people on bikes, on foot and pets on leashes and off have been using the parks. And because of park rules, everyone is crowding on the same paths.

Mountain bike riders say there is a network of undesignated trails they would like to use legally that would take them off the main paths and add enjoyment to their activity.

“Our goal is to get more trails opened up for mountain bike riding and free up the traffic on fire roads,” said Chris Beratlis, who is organizing riders.

Trail crowding is real, and that can lead to conflicts, or even injury.

“Having headphones on, and they come down the trail,” said Joanna Meneces of Pleasanton, who hikes in the park. “Some of the bikers don’t let you know they are behind. There are kids and dog’s leashes. So, it becomes a hazard for them.”

Mountain bike leaders are organizing with the goal of getting park directors to modify policies that would allow for environmental protection and legal use of single-track trails that are currently off limits.

Ciaburro says trail committees are constantly working to give more recreational access to more people.

“As times change, as technology changes the needs of our clients change. And so, they can recreate safely without causing damage to the environment,” Ciaburro said.

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