Mountain Bikers Complain At City Hall About Loch Raven Policy

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A battle over biking brings controversy to Loch Raven Reservoir and now to City Hall.

As Derek Valcourt explains, mountain bikers say they aren’t getting a fair ride from the city when it comes to where they can wheel.

Single-track riding—a popular sport mountain bikers have enjoyed for years—on 37 miles of trails through the woods along the Loch Raven Reservoir is great for father and son Jay and Bo Batema.

“Besides the challenge of the sport, it’s also very surreal to be out there and enjoying the scenery,” Batema said.

But it’s the water that serves 1.8 million people that the city’s Department of Public Works worries about.  As the land managers, they’re charged with enforcing watershed regulations to protect the water quality. Recently, they’ve been issuing warnings and even citations to mountain bikers riding trails designated off-limits.

“A lot of those trails are within the buffer zones or on really steep grades that we are required by law to limit access to,” said Celeste Amato, DPW.

Right now, mountain biking is restricted to emergency roads through the reservoir.  They’re wide enough for vehicles to get through and not very fun for bikers.

Biking enthusiasts took their complaints to City Hall Wednesday, arguing a DPW proposal to allow for a few additional single track trails doesn’t go far enough.  Bikers want access to most of the narrow trails they’ve used for decades.  They’re willing to pay for it and willing to help take care of the land.

“Mountain bikers are offering free trained maintenance to a city that’s dying for help and that’s being turned away,” said Penny Troutner.

DPW says they have no choice and protecting water quality comes first.

“And we certainly aren’t going to be promoting a lot of increased access in those critical areas because we are required to protect those areas under current law,” Amato said.

It’s an uphill battle for bikers, who say the ride is worth it.

Dozens of mountain bikers Wednesday gave an earful to City Council members who say they’ll hold more meetings on the matter in the future, but right now, it’s unclear if anything will change.

Currently, there are only 12 miles of trails mountain bikers can ride in the lands around Loch Raven.

More from Derek Valcourt
  • Bryan

    Any “damage” that is accusedly caused to the reservoir by trail use around the watershed area is negligible compared to the damage being caused by the golf course, development, roads, septic systems and failing sewer infrastructure. In addition, the support that the mountain bike community provides, organized by MORE and IMBA, is one of the greatest resources the loch raven reservoir has for cleaning trash, maintaining trails (about 60 volunteers just this past Saturday) to PREVENT runoff and patrolling the area for illegal and/or dangerous activities as well as deterring illegal and/or dangerous activities just by the presence of people enjoying the trails.

  • Tom

    Everyone has to complain about something…

  • Me

    Ride your mountain bikes around the alley’s of Penn Ave and Northern Prky. some of the cities most needed areas for clean up. Spend some quality time with friends and family there give back to Baltimore clean up the trash while riding. Stay off the streets and the Reservoir property and its a win win for everyone; the city being cleaned, your still riding your bike with friends & family and not at risk for being a pain in the A$$ to others who are driving.

    • B

      This whole thing is about being able to ride MOUNTAIN bikes off-road because we don’t want to ride in the streets. The people involved in this are never a pain in the a$$ to drivers.

  • what?

    Wow is that guy above for real? The issue is riding trails not roads… Why don’t you go ride around Pennsylvania Avenue and Northern Parkway and then let us know how great the scenery is over there and why don’t you do us a favor and clean those streets all by yourself!

  • Not Me

    Seriously!!! If you don’t have a clue what something is about, don’t get involved.

    • Paul Eric Kilmon

      Than you! Exactly!

  • Yes Me Again

    I’m sorry Lance Armstrong are you offened. It’s in the paper D/a$$ everyone that reads the paper can get involved so Shut up!!! Anyway does anyone that ride a mountain bike have a since of humor or do you all pretty much act like a bunch of Sassy Cats!!! I thought what I wrote was pretty funny; don’t take yourselves so serious.

    • oh no you again!!!

      no it was it not funny..
      and it’s offended, not offened
      yes we do have a “sense” of humor…ever “since” we started biking…
      I guess the city should make education a priority…seriously!

  • Again again "It's Me"

    Now Now kitty kitty…

  • Me's friend

    I think they should let them bikw where they want. I would like to take my paint ball gang out there too for some moving target practice…

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