Open Space Department Grapples with Allowing Bikes on Trails West of Boulder

There was a guest opinion about this at end of June. Here is an article in todays Daily Camera.

By the start of 1983, a new kind of outdoor recreation craze was sweeping Boulder.

"Recently, bicycles -- on streets and on trails -- have taken on a new style," an opinion columnist wrote in the Jan. 16, 1983, edition of the Daily Camera. "'Clunkers,' 'stump jumpers,' or 'trail bicycles' are marvelous creations of strong flexible frames, low gears and broad, knobby tires."

These newfangled "mountain bicycles" were perfect for snowy streets, dirt roads and trails. And during the first years of the '80s, so-called stump jumpers were cruising along some of the best trails the city of Boulder had to offer.

The opinion column in early 1983 went on to predict an explosion in people wanting to try this new kind of biking -- and an increase in the impacts: "As clunker numbers increase, so will the pressure on our delicate open space and wilderness trails, unless we act now to redirect their use."

A few days later, the City Council voted to ban mountain bikes on all of Boulder's trails. Months later, some areas of city land were reopened, but the open space directly west of town -- which runs from Chautauqua south to Eldorado Springs and encompasses the iconic Flatirons -- has remained closed ever since.

Now, Boulder's Open Space and Mountain Parks Department is asking a group of residents to decide whether mountain bikes should again be allowed on that land. On Sept. 13, the department's Community Collaborative Group -- which is made of up of 15 volunteers who represent a wide range of open space users, including dog owners, naturalists, hikers and adjacent neighbors -- will grapple with whether to allow the bikes and, if so, where.

Visitor Master Plan directive

In 2005, the Boulder City Council passed the Visitor Master Plan, which provides a vision for how the city's open space will be managed into the future. The plan called for the Open Space and Mountain Parks Department to take a more detailed look at how visitor use should be handled in five "trail study areas." Work on the West Trail Study Area began last year.

"For the West TSA, there is language in the Visitor Master Plan that directs us to explore the feasibility of mountain bike opportunities west of Highway 93," said Dean Paschall, manager of public process and communication for Open Space and Mountain Parks.

To grapple with the often-controversial issue of how visitors should be allowed to use the West TSA, which stretches from Linden Avenue to Eldorado Springs Drive, the open space department formed the Community Collaborative Group last fall.

Since then, the group has put in countless hours working to come to consensus on each painstaking management detail: Where should dogs be allowed? Are there appropriate places for new trails? How should fragile ecosystems be protected? And, of course, should mountain bikes be allowed and where?

Rest of the Daily Camera Article

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