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Could Mountain Biking Help Fight Blight On American River Parkway?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A ban on mountain biking along sections of the American River Parkway in Sacramento could be lifted this summer.

Advocates say more people using the parkway legally will deter illegal activity that has become a problem along the river.

Bob Horowitz is a Sacramento mountain biker who's personal passion has become opening the  American River Parkway's non-paved trails in Sacramento County to mountain biking.

"I've been working on this for about 13 or 14 years," Horowitz said. "[It's] illegal off pavement. Got to keep your fat tires on the pavement stay legal."

The mountain biking ban could soon be lifted, however. Horowitz sees it as a possible answer to blight along the river.

"This place is largely neglected because it doesn't feel safe. People might say it feels creepy," Horowitz said.

Homeless camps, drug use, and fires are common sights.

"This part of the parkway does not suffer from too many legitimate users, it suffers from too few – and it suffers greatly because of that," Horowitz said.

Ten percent of the parkway has burned in the past three years.

"The fires really had a profound impact," Horowitz said.

Sacramento bike activists support the mountain biking plan.

"This will bring mountain biking much closer to people who enjoy it, who want to do it," said Jim Brown from Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates.

Equestrians who have access to the same unpaved trails view the plan with caution.

"My only concern right now – with the current proposal – is from a safety point, where the trail could be shared by equestrian, hikers and bicyclists," said Katie Baygell, an equestrian and parkway user.

The three-year pilot program would allow mountain biking along the Cal Expo and Woodlake sections of the American River Parkway.

A county commission will vote on the plan later this summer.

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