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Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county

Protect Pogonip; keep it bike free

October 2011
Shawn PadillaThe peitition being circulated by FRIENDS OF THE POGONIP urges the Santa Cruz City Council to explore putting a bike and pedestrian trail along the Big Trees rail line instead of the proposed trail shown in maroon. Highway 9 is marked in orange.
Click to enlarge.

FRIENDS OF THE POGONIP is circulating a petition, addressed to the Santa Cruz City Council and the County Board of Supervisors, to "Protect Pogonip— Keep It Bike-free." The petition urges the City Council to reject the current proposal for a new "multi-use" trail— mainly for mountain bikers— through the Pogonip open space lands.

The Executive Committee of the Santa Cruz County Group of the Sierra Club, on July 14, 2010, voted to oppose the creation of the proposed trail. See excerpt on right.

The Pogonip, with its unique terrain, varieties of species, and wildlife habitat, is the last nearby open space of our Greenbelt that allows pedestrians— including runners, children, older people, and hearing- and sight-impaired— to walk or run without fear of being overtaken by bicyclists. It is a pedestrian sanctuary, now largely bike-free.

The petition also urges the Council to direct City staff to work instead with the County to explore the superior route of a trail along the Big Trees rail line, open to bicyclists and pedestrians, from Harvey West Park through the Pogonip. This route, which is exceptionally beautiful, would avoid the constrained entrance at Golf Club Drive and provide excellent connections to Henry Cowell State Park and the University Connector Trail at the northern end.

How to help
Sign the petition online at or call 429-6166 for more information.


Excerpt from July 26, 2010 letter from Santa Cruz Group:

Dear Mayor and Council Members:

The Santa Cruz County Group of the Sierra Club opposes the creation of a multi-use trail in Pogonip that will allow bicyclists to utilize this area.

This subject was last considered about a dozen years ago when it engendered very large community opposition. At that time the Sierra Club collected and submitted to the City Council a Petition signed by nearly 600 people opposing the idea of bicycles in Pogonip. The ensuing Pogonip Master Plan included bicycles on the University Connector trail as a compromise, with which we agreed, after much consideration, but not elsewhere, and especially not on single track hiking trails.

Multi-use trails on steep, hilly and forested terrain have proven unmanageable and dangerous. Hikers and equestrians on multi-use trails are faced with sudden, rapid encounters with a mechanized conveyance moving at speeds that are seven times faster than a hiker's or horse's pace. The thrill of mountain biking on forested, hilly terrain consists of gaining substantial downhill speed on steep, narrow, rough terrain, in poor lighting conditions. These conditions pose bicycle control challenges that make the activity thrilling for the bicyclists and absolutely frightening for the hapless hikers, possibly accompanied by small children, who happen to use the same trail. Horses, too, are spooked by speeding bicycles and those appearing suddenly around blind turns.

The result is an obvious and unequal confrontation between bicyclists and hikers, with the hikers and equestrians severely disadvantaged, threatened, and at risk of severe collision injuries. It changes the hiking experience into a risk taking experience rather than a relaxing enjoyment of nature.


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