By Teri Shore
This is an excerpted copy of a letter I sent to Caryl Hart, executive director of Sonoma County Regional Parks:
I was shocked and dumbfounded to find on the very wet morning of Dec. 7, Maxwell Farms Regional Park was cordoned off for the Bike Monkey and CX Nation Cyclocross mountain bike race event. When I arrived at about 9:30 a.m., 20 or more bicyclists were riding at fast speed through both the upper and lower portions of the park on walking paths – including the paved, handicapped-access path – that were cordoned off from other park users.
I, along with several other park users, many of them with leashed dogs in hand, were literally roped off from use of much of the park, and use of the park was unsafe due to the speeding bicycles.
Not only were the bicycles damaging the natural walking trails due to the extremely wet and muddy conditions from the downpour the day and night before, but the upper and lower paved walking paths and driveway were also blocked off as bike-racing routes. The event should have been halted if for no other reason than for the muddy conditions.
Even worse, however, was that the paved handicapped access ramp to the sports fields was cordoned off for fast-moving bicycles as part of the racing course. It is hard to conceive exactly how the bicycle group could rationalize cordoning off with colored tape the paved handicapped path to the lower baseball field as a bicycling corridor. The event organizers clearly violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Lastly, from what I could tell, the Sonoma Valley community and users of Maxwell Village Regional Park were not given warning about this Cyclocross Event. Further, I could not find anything about this event on the Sonoma County Regional Parks website.
Nor was there any notice in the local newspapers. If we had known, most of us would have walked elsewhere until the bikes vacated.
I asked the people at the Bike Monkey booth who had organized and approved the Cyclocross event, and was told that Sonoma County Regional Parks had approved it.
Sonoma is not against bicycles and actually encourages bicycling and use of bikes. But Maxwell Farms is just too small for serious bike riding. The park attracts mainly walkers, often with leashed dogs, as well as families with small children that use the playground and picnic benches. Maxwell Farms Regional Park is completely unsuitable for a Cyclocloss mountain bike race event.
With all this in mind, I request the following actions: Prohibit all other organizers of this event and notify them that they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act; require the Cyclocross Race event organizers to conduct community service days to restore the walking trails in Maxwell Farms; require public notice for any bicycling or other event at Maxwell Farms restricting use of the park by the public.
I care deeply for Maxwell Farms Regional Park; it is one of the few relatively natural areas left in Sonoma Valley where people can walk and exercise.