Reporting Jessica Kartalija
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– They’re some of the most beautiful trails in the state, popular with hikers and bikers. But now, the Department of Public Works wants bikers off of so-called single-track trails.
Jessica Kartalija reports how the bikers are fighting back.
Thirty-six miles of single track trails run through the woods along Loch Raven Reservoir.
“This is the epicenter when it comes to mountain biking,” biking enthusiast Bob Compton said.
But the Department of Public Works (DPW) says these single-track trails have never been authorized for mountain biking. Now, they’ve started issuing warnings and fines to bikers.
“I think Baltimore has enough problems,” Sen. Jim Brochin (D- Baltimore County). “I think the Department of Public Works should focus on other issues and shouldn’t harass law-abiding citizens out on a bike ride with their kids. It’s just overkill, it really is.”
An ordinance prohibits the use of trails within 100 feet of the water’s edge.
DPW allows bikers to use several wider, woods roads and has offered to add a few single track trails around Loch Raven.
But bikers have taken their fight to City Hall, saying DPW’s proposal isn’t enough.
“It’s not fair,” said Compton. “They’re saying we have a negative impact on the watershed.”
Now mountain bikers are taking city officials on a tour around Loch Raven proving what they love to do–mountain biking– is not proving to be detrimental to the watershed.
“We put in more volunteer hours than any other group, we’ve removed more trash,” Compton said. “But to kick us off trails for no apparent reason, it’s just not right.”
DPW says keeping trails clean is crucial to providing clean water quality.
“A lot of those trails are inside buffer zones or along steep grades, so we’re required by law to limit access to,” said Celeste Amato, Department of Public Works.
“There’s no study that has ever shown to us that indicates that mountain biking is causing excess sediment or excess runoff,” Compton said.
“I truly believe that mountain biking has equal impact as walking and hiking,” said Marla Streb, a professional cyclist.
Bikers are hoping to get the ordinance changed so everyone can enjoy the beauty and recreation at Loch Raven. These mountain bikers tell WJZ they’re so committed to the area that they will continue to ride the trails and clean the trails, taking good care of them to prove their dedication.
The mountain bikers say fines for riding on undesignated trails is $60.