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NPS Rangers Create Their Own Mountain Bike Patrol Unit

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - In response to increased complaints and collisions on local trails, the National Park Service (NPS) has teamed with the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclist Association (CORBA) to promote safe and courteous riding in the Santa Monica Mountains.

"We're thrilled that there is great demand for the public to enjoy the beauty and public health benefits of our extensive trail system," said Melanie Turner, law enforcement ranger and mountain bike unit coordinator with Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA)."For the benefit and safety of all users, we ask people to follow proper trail etiquette and observe the 15 mph speed limit."

Rangers report an uptick in visitor complaints regarding cyclists who are riding too fast or in restricted areas.Particularly on busy weekends, the effects can be dangerous.In the past year, accidents at Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyon resulted in several helicopter extractions, though the problem is not limited to that site.

Turner, who is an avid mountain biker herself, wonders if a new website that allows riders to publicly post their times on specific trails has led to an increase in violations.Strava (www.strava.com) shows speeds of up to 35 mph, with average speeds of 25 mph, on some trails within the recreation area.Made aware of the problem, Strava is working with Turner to prohibit users from posting times on certain trails, along with a message about trail regulations.

As part of its mission to promote safe riding, CORBA is working closely with SMMNRA, a unit of the National Park Service, to inform its members about these concerns and remind them about responsible riding tips.

"If you just slow down around other users (including other cyclists), you create a win-win for everyone," said Mark Langton, president of CORBA. "Speed is subjective; what one person might think is slow might still be too fast. Even at 10 mph you can startle someone and disrupt their enjoyment of our open space. If you slow down, you literally solve the problem most people have with bicycles on the trail - that they go too fast and scare other users."

Turner attended a recent CORBA meeting and is visiting local bike shops to let the community know that rangers will be stepping up patrols and issuing citations.Both organizations hope the efforts will result in a safe and enjoyable trail experience for all users.

About Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area:
Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA) is the largest urban national park in the country, encompassing more than 150,000 acres of mountains and coastline in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. A unit of the National Park Service, it comprises a seamless network of local, state, and federal parks interwoven with private lands and communities. As one of only five Mediterranean ecosystems in the world, SMMNRA preserves the rich biological diversity of more than 450 animal species and 26 distinct plant communities. For more information, visit www.nps.gov/samo.

About Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association:
Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association was founded in 1987 to serve the mountain bicycling community of Los Angeles and surrounding areas including southern Ventura County.CORBA is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to gaining and maintaining public trail access for mountain cyclists and the public at-large.CORBA encourages and promotes the safe and environmentally responsible use of unpaved roads and trails for bicycling and to educate the public about all aspects of off-road cycling and trails.www.corbamtb.com.

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The MBU

The CORBA Mountain Bike Unit (MBU) was the very first volunteer mountain bike patrol in the country, and served as a model for the National Mountain Bike Patrol, If memory serves me, they started the program in 1989. When the MBU was still a program of CORBA, they were one of the founding units of NMBP, along with Moab, NEMBA, Mt. Snow and NCMBP. The MBU provided the North-Central Mountain Bike Patrol (NCMBP, now the Backcountry Trail Patrol and MORC and WORBA Mtn. Bike Patrols in MN and WI) with a lot of information and guidance when were were starting up in 1996, and we will always be grateful for their leadership in getting the program up and running! They are an excellent, strong and successful program that is an active part of the NPS, Calif. State Parks and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservation Authority, still working closely with CORBA, as described above, and the CORBA Fat Tire Festival, youth moutain bikiing activities and rider skill classes. You can find out more at "http://www.mountainbikeunit.com/"

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