Mountain Bikers Fight DPW To Stay On Loch Raven Reservoir Trails

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.

More from Jessica Kartalija
  • the truth

    Get them off the park lands before they break their necks like the idiots did last month on an ATV.

  • Jave

    When I am walking, they come at speeds with no warning, dont stop for others, basically rude……you know, like the ones that ride OUR roads.

    • RustysChaos

      Jave ‘Our Roads” give me a break. I have over 15000 miles of road riding under my belt. Endless singletracks and countless miles riding the Mid Atlantic on a sport touring motorcycle. Did I mention the 35 years in the auto service industry?
      You remind me of the moron who thinks the road is for cars and nothing else.
      I would rather be basically rude than socially stupid

  • Samwell

    Nice way to group ALL mountain bikers becuase of a very small minority group of riders!

  • mountainbiker4ever

    Fisherman do more to pollute the water than any other group. Don’t believe me? Just go to a spot where one was fishing all day and look at all the beer cans trash and fishing line they leave behind

  • Outis

    I have probably removed more trash from Loch Raven myself than all of the bike riders combined. In fact, I have yet to see a single person stop and get off a bike to pick up any trash. They may come back later and get something, or during their occasional group efforts, but they really crow about it a great deal more than the actions actually justify. (And to be fair, most of the trash is not due to bikes, but they are far from entirely innocent. I have picked up no fewer than 3 bike tires in just the last few weeks, and dozens of reflectors and those little tire repair kits. The beer bottles and cans are most likely from kids partying, but the water bottles and “energy gel” packs are probably from runners or bikes.)

    Anyway, I love the comment that they are “so committed to the area” that they will even be willing to continue to do what they selfishly were doing anyway, and be “law-abiding citizens” by continuing to break the law. That sums up the attitude of all too many of them precisely. It will take stiffer fines than $60 to confront such arrogance.

  • Jackie

    Fine people for littering, not riding bikes. That’s not even the issue. Bikers hurt the watershed? Give me a break. Why is it that all other species are given free access to nature, except humans? Are humans not part of the natural environment? Why is the human species not considered to be a natural part of the environment?

  • Coach

    Do not punish all for the actions of a few. Address the individuals who do wrong. Mountain bikers as a whole are a responsible group. We as well as other trail users can be stewards of the watershed. I have worked with fisherman, hikers, and bikers to help maintain Loch Raven. I would like to educate ‘Outis’ that one of those occasional group efforts collected 1600 lbs., 40-50 large bags of trash that filled several trucks out of the north side of Loch Raven April 2011. This has been going on every year for a while. Picking up trash may appear to be a thankless effort but it does matter.

    The group that I am associated with is the Mid Atlantic Offroad Enthusiast or M.O.R.E. On the same note, we are responsible trail users. We follow an etiquette that is rspectful to nature as well as other trail users. We all have to educate trail user who may not be as user friendly as you and I. I didn’t say it would be easy but I am not giving up!

  • Outis

    Actually, “Coach,” no education is necessary for me. I know several people involved with operation clean stream that are not bike riders, so your numbers are inflated. In any case, I take out several bags of trash from Loch Raven every week, week after week, month after month, and I have been doing this for many years. (And I am not the only person who picks up litter.) Just this Summer alone, in addition to my usual efforts, I have removed more than 70 lbs of broken glass, a particularly time-consuming and unpleasant project, so I make no apology for my original statement. And I manage to do this without making threats, and imposing demands on the rangers or the watershed, and without cutting trails throughout the woods that destroy any sense of wildness that once abounded there.

    But yes, we should not punish all for the actions of a few. No one, I think, has suggested punishing bike riders who follow the rules, only bike riders who arrogantly refuse to follow the rules. Unfortunately for you, those rules include not riding on single-track trails (other than the few which were recently added by DPW) and not riding when the dirt road is wet. Those violating the rules should be ticketed. (The fact that you may have gotten away for years when those rules were not being enforced means nothing.)

    So, be stewards by sticking to the official fire roads, and following the posted rules. Enjoy the watershed without adding the unnecessary burden of endless and pointless trails that just wander everywhere. This constant whining and bickering by the bike riders over single track trails that should not exist (let alone be the focus of heavy and ever-increasing bike activity) just shows that claims of stewardship are, for the most part, a false cover for selfishness. If your “stewardship” only comes with such price tags, then it is quite proper that it is refused. If the attendant retaliation is that bike riders stop picking up litter, others will pick up the slack.

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