Mountain Biking

Marin County, California | Two Doctors Charged for Mountain Biking Illegally… in the Birthplace of Mountain Biking

“I don’t want to be 65 before my vision for trail access sharing in Marin County is implemented...”

With views like this, it’s crazy to think Marin County California has just a couple of legal MTB trails. Photo: Getty

Two mountain bikers face potential fines of $1000 and imprisonment in a county jail for resisting arrest while mountain biking illegally in Marin County, California.

Oddly enough, while Marin County can actually be said to be the birthplace of the entire sport, the county has harsh restrictions on mountain biking.

The county was home to the first mountain bike race ever and can take credit for legends of the sport like Gary Fisher. After the quick growth of mountain biking as a sport in the 70s and 80s though, legislation was introduced to ban mountain bikers from nearly all singletrail in the area.

As such, while the area is written into the folklore of the sport, you can actually count the trails it’s legal to ride a mountain bike on in Marin County on one hand.

It’s a bit like Footloose in that way, except instead of having the local minister to blame for banning dancing, you’ve got scared 70s & 80s hikers to blame for banning mountain biking. Oh, and it’s actually real as well.

View of Stinson Beach from Mt. Tamalpais, Marin County, California. Photo: Getty

The two riders caught on this occasion were both doctors – Dr. Paul Cameron, a Corte Madera dentist, and Dr David Carbonell, an emergency room physician – and were charged with “riding their bicycles illegally on Marin County open space land where bikes are prohibited and resisting arrest when a Marin County sheriff’s deputy attempted to issue them a citation,” writes the Marin Independent Journal.

A quick flick through the Marin Independent Journal’s archives suggests trail access is quite the hot topic in the area.

Dr Carbonell is described as a co-founder of the New Paradigm Trail Group, a group which has declared the country roads and trail management plan in the area a failure, saying there is not enough access for bikes.

Open Space Superintendent Ari Golan says the fine for riding illegally on open space land is $199 including court costs. The fine for a second offence is $410 and all violations after that cost up to $615.

Resisting arrest meanwhile carries the maximum punishment of a $1,000 and imprisonment in a county jail for up to a year.

The doctors were riding the Piedmont Trail in the Baltimore Canyon Open Space Preserve on December 12th when they were caught.

Marin County, the troubled home of mountain biking. Photo: Getty

Sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Edwards said: “They were seen by one of the open space deputies riding on a trail they were restricted from riding bikes on. The deputy attempted to stop them and they rode away from him.”

The deputy was then however able to catch up with the mountain bikers, grabbing Cameron’s arm to stop him and later identifying Carbonell.

Carbonell is quoted as having said (in February of 2017): “I don’t want to be 65 years old before I see my vision for trail access sharing in Marin County implemented.”

Linda Novy of Fairfax, a Marin Conservation League board member, said, “These guys were breaking the law and then they tried to evade it. I think it is really shameful.

“This is really proof that enforcement is very necessary. There are some people, and these are examples of those people, who just don’t think the rules apply to them. We may never get them to comply unless they’re arrested.”

Cameron has pleaded not guilty to both charges, while Carbonell’s arraignment is scheduled for January 24.

Update: We have been informed that the riders in question were not pursued for citation for riding an illegal trail, and that the trail they were riding is actually legal for mountain bikers to ride during the day. The reason they were pursued was for riding the trail at dusk.

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