[pct-l] Bikes on PCT- enforcement NEEDED

Timothy Nye timpnye at gmail.com
Wed Nov 3 21:49:29 CDT 2010

I am a lawyer; or at least I was until I retired.  This really is political
problem rather than a legal problem, in my opinion.  Even worse, it has it's
antecedents with Mahatma Ghandi.  It's called civil disobediance.  This can
allow the bikers, and possibly the general public, to discount and minimize
our objections.  The bikers view the restrictions on mountain biking as
unfair. Yes, it's illegal behavior, but it's illegal behavior that there is
no practical effective way to counter other than to take the high ground, as
we already have the law on our side. We are discovering, as the British did
in pre-partition India, that there are very few other responses that can be
effective.  We are caught in a posistion of weakness because of a lack of
official enforcement.  The mountain biking community is creating a new
reality on the ground, such that,an amendment to the law so that mountain
biking is permitted will no longer be viewed as a change but merely bringing
the law in conformity with reality.  In my opinion we are nearly at this
point if not already there.

Unfortunately, and I'm sure not all on the list will appreciate the analogy,
we are in the same posistion as the state of Arizona with respect to illegal
immigration.  The powers that be will not enforce the "border" for the PCT
as to mountain bikers.  We really cannot do anything  officially as the
legal right to enforcement is arguably limited to the federal government.
For a variety of reasons they have abdicated this responsibility.  Some,
such as the State of California Park Service at Castle Crags have adopted a
policy welcoming and sanctioning mountain biking on the trail.

Law enforcement would mean that the wilderness, that which we are seeking to
maintain, would be that much less wild.  Even assuming, which I doubt, that
we could have bounty hunters / rangers prowling the wilderness looking for
mountain biking scofflaws, and even if they were effective, we would have
rangers / bounty hunters in the wilderness, but not just in wilderness
areas.  The trail could seem to get pretty crowded even if the bike
suppression effort were successful; albeit the absence of bikers is clearly
a net plus.

What would it take to get to the point of enforcing the official

I see only two possibilities.  First, the federal appointment of someone who
is commited, first and foremeost, to enforcement and is in a sufficiently
important posistion that they can make it happen.  Think "tea party" for the
PCT "Constitution"... a fanatic would be best absent the pejorative aspects
of the term.  Second, the PCTA.  This would take political capital, and my
impression is that they (not the Board, Donna!) are more concerned about
fund raising.

I've been waging an internal fight with myself about whether to post this
next for the last six months as it may be viewed as a flame or
inappropriate, but I really don't know what else I should do as I am
concerned about the trail and this is the community.  I know somw will take
issue with what I say, but I am really concerned about what it may heral for
the trail. I have serious reservations about the the direction the PCTA has
taken over the last year and a half, from the abolition of trail fest ( for
financial reasons-at the same time the PCTA signed an exorbitant lease on a
class A building on the Sacramento River-I used to negotiate leases in
Sacramento and know the termo to the most recent change banning members of
the Board of Directors to be nominated by anyone but the Board internally.
The executive is increasingly insulated from outside control and the
community as a whole while raising dues this year by 20% and soliciting
inherientences. The thing about this latter aspect, is that such bequests in
California are able to be spent independent from any attempted strings
placed on them by the one making the bequest.   My gut feeling is that
executive pay and benefits are likely to be the real goal here, but then who
am I to say whether that is right or wrong and what is excessive and what is
not excessive.  This requires a lot of trust.  I will say that I was going
to make a large four figure donation to the PCTA this year, as it would be
matched by my wife's employer.  Given the above, and my gut feeling which I
just can't shake, we passed on the donation.

I think that the Board could direct the PCTA in this matter.  I checked out
the memebrship of the Board and was dissuaded from saying anything since the
memebrship of the board is clearly impressive.  Then the resyriction on new
board memebers was passed and now a long time member of the PCTA left for
ADZPCTKO decrying corporatization of the PCTA.

We don't need trail police.  We need this to made a priority with the
existing enforcement mechanisms available with feedback so that we know that
directives to enforce the ban are actually being implemented.  This could
validate the PCTA and enlarge it's role, while at the same time ridding the
trail of the biker problem. ( I noted in an earlier post that I was afraid
that the PCTA might view bikers as another source of dues...Donna assured
that this would not be the case, but this is the source of my concern)

On Wed, Nov 3, 2010 at 4:58 PM, Jim & Jane Moody <moodyjj at comcast.net>wrote:

> I'm not a lawyer, but I used to play one on TV (live City Council meetings,
> actually).  What you are referring to is "adverse possession", wherein
> someone gains a right to land based on the unchallenged use of it for a long
> time.  A typical situation might be a driveway across someone else's
> property that non-owners use to gain access to someplace else (say a lake or
> park) for many years, and where the property is not posted as "private - no
> trespassing".  Since riding bikes on the PCT is illegal and signed thusly, I
> can't imagine that simply violating a law without being caught somehow would
> cause that law to become void.  If I drive faster than the speed limit for a
> year then get caught, I won't get far with the defense that "I've done it
> for a full year and nobody made me stop."
> "Grandfather clause" describes an activity that was legal and ongoing, then
> became nonconforming after passage of an amendment to a law or regulation.
> Here's an example - your house is 10 ft from the rear property line, which
> was the requirement when it was built.  Years later the City Council decides
> that the rear yard setback should be 20 ft and passes a zoning ordinance
> amendment to that effect.  Your house now does not conform to the Zoning
> Code, but you are protected against having to tear down and rebuild.
> By the way, if anybody needs an overpriced planning & zoning consultant
> before hiking starts back, let me know.
> Mango
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Edward Anderson" <mendoridered at yahoo.com>
> To: pct-l at backcountry.net
> Sent: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 5:30:38 PM
> Subject: [pct-l] Bikes on PCT- enforcement NEEDED
> Hi All,
> We all agree that mountain bikes on the PCT are a serious safety hazard for
> other users, that their wheel tracks create channels for water to run down
> causing deepening ruts and erosion, and that, by law, they are not allowed
> either on the PCT or in wilderness areas. We who use the PCT, even though
> wheeled vehicles are unlawful, often meet them on the trail.  There are
> more of
> these confrontations every year.  Since there is no enforcement of the ban,
> and
> the word is getting out among mountain bikers (and motorcycle users) that
> they
> can go ahead and ride on the trail without consequence, we can expect that
> this
> problem will become greater each year.  And, as we have now become aware,
> they
> will be pushing to see the law changed so that the PCT and wilderness areas
> be
> open to wheeled vehicles.  So long as there is no enforcement, and all we
> do is
> deprecate their sometimes very rude, unsafe, and destructive behavior,
> their
> numbers will increase.  Here is a question for the lawyers on this
> forum: If
> illegal trespassing on the PCT is tolerated and it goes on for long enough,
> is
> there a time when the "grandfather clause" might apply?
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