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Letter to the Editor: Don't Allow Mountain Biking in Forest Preserves

Can Kane County possibly be serious about allowing mountain biking in a forest preserve?

Dear Patch Editor,

There seems to be more interest in the Fabyan Forest Preserve Woods than the old oak trees have seen in many years.

The trail leading into the woods on the east side of the forest preserve in Geneva has a sign posted: "NO BIKES ALLOWED." Yet, as we walk the woods, some walking slower than others, we are frequently forced to move quickly to the side of the trail because mountain bikers are riding these woods illegally.

Now the Chicago Area Bike Club (CAMBr) is asking the Kane County Board to construct in these woods. And yes, CAMBr members speak publicly about riding in these woods. 

Can the Kane County Board possibly be considering rewarding this illegal behavior? That is not what we teach our children. But wait, these are not children. These are adults. Does that change the rules?

Why not mountain bikes on Settlers Hill? 

Why not walking trails in the woods?

Why not protect a national treasure of 150- to 200-year-old oaks?

 

Fran Caffee
Aurora

 

 
sschurch June 10, 2012 at 02:45 AM
I totally agree. Mt. biking is fun but NOT in one of our special woods.
John Perdikus June 10, 2012 at 03:38 AM
I am in this preserve weekly. I rarely see walkers, only bikers. They cause me no problems. But every week, there are letters to the newspapers and calls to the police. There seems to be a hidden agenda afoot…
Jack June 10, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Could the "hidden agenda" be a desire for consistency between law and behavior, safety and a respect for the environment? Mountain bikers will cause erosion, and safety problems for hikers. Some of the tax funds that support these areas ought to go to enforcement, instead of more acquisition.
Robert June 10, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Why not mountain bike trails and also separate walking trails at least? Don't consider it rewarding illegal behavior but fixing a problem. There is a demand for such trail bike riding recreation as evidenced by your experiences while walking in the woods. Meet the demand. Good golly, it's not like the mountain bikers aren't a bunch of hooligans. I'm a 50 year-old responsible avid trail and road rider and if you fill a legal MTB trail system with folks like me we tend to dilute out and push out the irresponsible riders to a good degree. Every activity has participants who seem to lack any common sense. I see it with trail and path walkers who wear iPod earphones and constantly walk on the trail either dead center or as off they are very British. Now how easy is it to get those folks to move back to the right side of the path? They always jump, totally startled a biker is right behind them yelling "passing on your left". This happens over and over for them. It's as if they have no clue that wearing headphones blocks out sounds. In other words, every activity has outliers with a bell-shaped curve.
Augi Fesi June 10, 2012 at 02:06 PM
John & Robert, First off you shouldn't have to be yelling, "Passing on the Left" because your not suppose to be there in the first place, it's illegal!! Your probably the same type of people who complain when they get a speeding ticket or red light camera ticket, not saying you have. Second to both is, there are pictures, cameras and proof of what the so nice, great mountain bikers have been doing to the woods, making dams, redirecting flow of the stream, marking trails with bags and poles, making crossings, obstacles and jumps. The police are just doing their job, It's unfortunate for you that, that mountain bikers are the one breaking the law. Not the walkers, hikers or kids just playing in the forest, looking for bugs, fish, and animals. Third, go ask DuPage County why they don't have designated mountain bike trails or Naperville. Go to one of the already 5 plus approved and designed sites in the area for mountain biking. Don't ruin a forest for your pleasure. Let them build you a course on the "Mountain" Settler's Hill. Oh that's right, if they build it and watch it, you can't destruct or modify it. But hey it is only the third highest point in the county and is a hill with some great grade and design possibility.
Jim Kirkhoff June 10, 2012 at 03:46 PM
I enter the woods from about 3 or 4 different trails and have never seen a sign that says that biking is prohibited. And if there was an actual rule against biking, I would think that the dozen or so park staff and police that I have ridden by over the past 10 years would have made mention about it to me. And let's just drop the boogie-man-scare-tactic implying that the CAMBr plan would threaten any of the trees. Please. That is an insult to everyones intelligence. If you want to have a discussion about this plan, it should be based on fact.
Augi Fesi June 10, 2012 at 04:10 PM
If you enter from the parking lot on 25, there are two signs. Unless someone has removed them in the last couple of weeks. I'll go recheck to make sure they are still in place.There is no Boogie man just facts and pictures. Come to the Subcommittee meeting on June 12th if you want facts.
Robert June 10, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Augi, I ride on the right side of the paths and when I approach a pedestrian I have to pass them some way, correct? If the pedestrian is walking in the middle or to the left I certainly don't want to pass them without signaling which side. Try to pass them on their right and the normal response a pedestrian has upon hearing you (they won't hear you with headphones) is to shift to the right where they probably should be on from the start. Get a grip. No I never have a problem with red light cameras for paying for tickets. I fully take responsibility for my actions, thank you.
Robert June 10, 2012 at 06:26 PM
@ Augi, Pretty clear your anger is clouding your ability to compromise so bikers, walkers, naturalists can all get along and enjoy the outdoors in their own special ways. For goodness sake out West they have single track biking at many beautiful parks and all hell isn't breaking loose. In addition they also have outdoor marathons with thousands running the trails and the trees aren't all dying and the mountains being reduced to dust.
Robert June 10, 2012 at 07:05 PM
@Augie, Maybe you should bone up on IPP site and their suggested trail etiquette. Below are nice to follow, my friend. http://www.ipp.org/trail-etiquette/ Trail Etiquette Regulations to Protect People, Animals and Power Lines: Cyclists and equestrians should give an audible warning when overtaking another user by calling out 'passing on the left'. Users should make an effort to stay to the right when traveling the Path.
G. Klemm June 10, 2012 at 10:04 PM
KEEP THE BIKES OUT OF THE WOODS! There is plenty of room for mountain bikings at Settlers Hill. Please keep them out of the forest preserve. The woods are under siege enough from invasive species. Mountain biking is fine but a forest PRESERVE is just that, a preserve.
Monica June 11, 2012 at 05:39 AM
I have walked in this area many times with and without earbuds minimizing my hearing. It makes little difference. Most bikers whizz by with a hasty yell to the walker(s) giving them little time to dodge the bike in any direction. The issue here is becoming convoluted; the only thing to be determined is the legality of biking in this lovely natural place. Peace
Augi Fesi June 11, 2012 at 12:37 PM
Robert , I agree with all of your replies about trail etiquette and believe in it one hundred present. WHEN YOU ON A LEGAL TRAIL
Augi Fesi June 11, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Robert, I'm also not against mountain bikers and trails. When they are in an appropriate setting, such as on 200 acres of waste land such as Settlers Hill, a strip mine and not one of the last few hundred acres of untouched land in Kane County.
Jay June 12, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Well it would seem that there are a lot of opinions on the issue and some are valid and some are...well lets just say petty and ignorant. While I agree there are rules to be followed I would also point out that not all the trail users are considerate of even that. Now I myself am an avid mountain bike rider and a member of Cambr. I have not yet ventured into Fabyan Woods or Settlers Hill but I hear good things that could come of it and I know that Cambr has already been in dealings with Kane County about both locations. Now first thing is first...we don't know if the riders in the Fabyan woods are at all members but I'm also not counting that out. In addition, if mountain biking on the trails is legally passed I know that Cambr will treat the location with utmost respect to the trees, plants and animals and well as the trail users that commonly use the trails. I can say that Cambr is a worthy organization that has done great things for the sport and keep it growing. They teach trail etiquette very often but there are always those few that are numb to the cause so to speak.
Jay June 12, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Continued - I agree about the headphones (no one can hear) and while you are running, riding or walking you should always be aware of your surroundings. I have seen runners and walkers jump out of the way after I have had to yell out on your left as well (because they are deaf to the world) on a wide track (plenty of room with me all the way to the left even going really slow) and they freak out. Maybe you should turn your music down. I'm sure you can still hear it just fine and still hear people around you. Not only that but it's truly unsafe for everyone. I even went that route with listening to music and quickly abandoned the idea because I saw that it causes an impairment which can lead to possible injuries to myself and/or others. I mean you can't drive a car and do that so why would you assume that you can on a bike or even while running/walking? Doesn't make sense. Not all of us are coordinated enough to perform 2 or more actions at same time...you know who you are.
Jay June 12, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Continued - The point that I am trying to make is that everyone can share the trails no matter where they exist. I have seen this at many of the locations that Cambr over sees and I am quite impressed with the professionalism and the people that are out there day after day making sure that the trails are safe and manicured to perfection in order to avoid erosion and other issues that hamper the woods by natural or unnatural means. We all need to come together and ensure that we are preserving our treasures but also enjoying them to the fullest. We can all enjoy the same trails together. Just be aware of everyone and make sure to take precautions. We all have to exercise good judgement and take responsibility for our own actions before we can lash out at others and also try to believe that a good thing is about to happen because it is a good thing. Respectively, Jay Randall
Brian June 15, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Hi, I use the trails on foot, bike, and skis. I am very happy to have this area close by to enjoy. If the trails are off limits to cyclists, the entrances that I use are not clearly marked. Regardless, when I see people riding bikes in the woods, they are not hooligans; the avg. rider is between 35-55 years old, on a bike that costs more than $1,500. Many are businessmen/women,lawyers,doctors enjoying an hour or two in the woods. Nearly all of them go around the "structures" as they cannot afford to get hurt on them. The bridges, ramps, dams...are made by kids. Yes, some are bikers, but some are just kids playing in the water/woods (not on bikes). Hikers and mt. bikers typically share the same love and appreciation of the outdoors. A few kids should not spoil it for all bikers. If you think differently, have you ever seen a mountain biker wiz by you on the trail carrying a six pack, magazines, packs of cigarettes, or a bag of fast food? Me neither! But I have picked up my fair share of garbage & glass bottles in the woods; brought in on foot. Regarding a MTB park, I love it. But there is confusion with the term "mt. biking". It is a misnomer as it does not imply riding up or down a mountain (i.e. land fill). It is an outdoor activity that is enjoyed in an off-road enviroment which includes woods, prairies, hills & mountains - just like hiking. A "mountain bike" is a bike designed to endure off-road conditions like roots, dirt, rocks... Let's all work together! Brian
Augi Fesi June 15, 2012 at 07:34 PM
@ Brian, the pictures I have taken are not of kids or children, they are of 30 somethings riding a on blue Cannondale bikes. He was issued a ticket by the county. So don't try and blame kids. Kids also don't mark trails with bags and posts. Most of the tickets have been on adults not kids. I t was three men in the evening who went in and built stunts out of logs they carried in with them from a truck they parked on the street. While I believe not are all bad, one bad egg can and will ruin it for others. and even slight damage to a root system can kill a 200 year old tree.
Brian June 18, 2012 at 04:13 PM
@ Augi, I say well done (and thank you) to the authorities for catching them and for issuing fines! Bikers/hikers should stick to the path(s) that are already present and not take it upon themselves to create their own (take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but foot prints - or tire prints). Once again, hikers and mountain bikers agree! Regarding the 200 year old trees and their roots, they seem to be few and far between. Anyone who enjoys the woods (regardless of by foot/bike) knows full well that each storm brings down yet another tree (large & small) as the root systems are not very deep around here. You cannot blame cyclists for this - it is just simply nature.

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