Green

Letters to the Editor

Response: Watchung Mountain Biking Plan

b477026315c41520bdd8_mini_magick20170227-8076-11yun2.jpg
b477026315c41520bdd8_mini_magick20170227-8076-11yun2.jpg

In response to the Watchung Reservation Mountain Biking letter by William Toth. 

Mountain biking is a healthy activity the whole family can enjoy. It benefits the body & soul. Something hikers can relate to. There is no trail user group that devotes more time and energy into protecting and sharing the trails we all love. 

The letter authored by Mr. Toth contains many inaccuracies and misconceptions. There's an obvious misunderstanding of what recreational mountain biking is all about. It is NOT a dangerous extreme sport. 

Sign Up for E-News

See responses in [brackets] below:

A proposal is working its way to the Union County Freeholders to cut almost 13.5 miles of new trails in the beautiful and historic Watchung Reservation, to be used exclusively for off road mountain bikes. These bikes are designed for rough terrain and stunts. [This is not a proposal. It's a PLAN that has been studied, debated & adopted. Resources have already been committed and work has started.]

Mountain biking and hiking are incompatible.  A bike might be travelling 30 miles an hour down a narrow winding path when it meets a family.  So the plan’s proponents propose a system of separate paths. There are numerous problems with this proposal. [Not true. Biking and hiking have been compatible for many years on multi-use trails in parks all over NJ and around the world. 30 miles an hour on a cross country (XC) trail is ridiculous, if not impossible. Even a mountain bike on a paved road downhill would have a hard time achieving this speed. Mr. Toth is possibly confusing downhill racing at ski resorts on TV with cross country riding that is done by everyday folks all over NJ and what will be done in Watchung. The speed of recreational XC mountain bikers is much, much slower. Regardless, the bike trails in Watchung will be BIKE ONLY. So hikers need not worry.]

The proposed bike-only trails would develop most of the undeveloped forest preserve areas of the reservation, resulting in the loss of all the un-trafficked natural habitat areas. They would destroy the forest vistas and woodland solitude.  They would disrupt wildlife habitat. An environmental impact study needs to be performed. These undeveloped areas around the perimeter of the park present a forest wilderness to the hikers in the reservation and provide privacy for the homes at the perimeter. [Absolutely false. These claims lack any data to back them. On the contrary, studies have already been done. Plans are being implemented. Bikes are for the most part silent. Barking dogs are much more disruptive to wildlife. Are dogs banned? Biking trails are no more visible than hiking trails. Homes adjacent to the reservation are granted no special privileges simply due to proximity.]  

Who will patrol the paths to keep bikes and pedestrians separate?  Who will patrol to keep bikers from cutting new trails?  Union County Police have no bike unit so it will not be them. [Wrong, Union County Police is already patrolling the park on ATV's] 

Banning pedestrians from the 13.5 miles of new trails take away our right to public space and give it to the few who can afford these expensive bikes. [Hypocritical at best. Mountain biker's have the same rights to public space as hikers and equestrians. Hikers (pedestrians) have actively taken away bikers rights to public space for decades. It's the hikers who forced the county to keep the trails separate.

As to "the few who can afford these expensive bikes", bikes come in all price ranges. New & used. You can even get one for FREE in Plainfield at the Dairy Queen. A garage sale bike can be just a few dollars. Access to biking trails benefits everyone. ]

Off road cycling is a dangerous extreme sport.  The proposed bikeways include an elevation change of almost 200 feet in one area. There will be injuries.  Who will provide and pay for rescue operations? [Gross exaggeration. Mountain biking is NOT an extreme sport when recreational XC riding. Again, there seems to be confusion with sporting events seen on TV. Injuries are possible in any activity or sport.] 

Who will bear the cost of defending lawsuits and paying judgments when Union County is sued by injured cyclists claiming improperly maintained or constructed trails? [This has already been addressed by the county. Nationally recognized IMBA trail building and maintenance standards will be used. ]

Who will be using these trails?  Off road cyclists will come from all over the region.  The Summit train station provides easy access to these proposed trails, meaning New York City off road cyclists may show up in large numbers to use the park.[The same can be said for hikers & equestrians coming to Watchung. Does it happen?].  

Where will those who come by car park? The current lots are often filled to capacity on weekends. [This is addressed in the master plan]. 

Much of the proposed off road cycling trails run behind and close to homes in Summit, Berkeley Heights, Mountainside, Springfield and Scotch Plains, raising issues of privacy, tranquility, security and property values. Have the adjacent homeowners, police departments and neighborhood associations in these municipalities been notified or consulted? [This implies mountain bikers are criminal in nature and hikers are not. Insulting at best. Again, homes adjacent to the reservation are granted no special privileges simply due to proximity.]  

The proposed trail is not a loop, more like a U.  When a biker starts at one end and travels to the other, they will be inclined to cut through hiking paths to return to their point of origin. [Hikers may also be inclined to use a bike path for a shortcut. Should hiking be banned? This concern may be eliminated by more bike trails to connect the U.]

The natural undeveloped areas of the Watchung Reservation should not be turned into an off road bike amusement park. The environmental impact would be very destructive. Visit Washington Valley Park in Somerset County which allows bikes: footpaths have become wide characterless bikeways and hikers have mostly abandoned the park to the cyclists. [Untrue, thanks to the MTB community the trails are among the best maintained trails in NJ. In fact, trails are extremely well maintained wherever the MTB community is involved. Hikers benefit from thousands of documented JORBA volunteer hours on multi-use trails ]

This extensive overdevelopment of the Watchung Reservation will destroy the natural beauty of this preserved landscape and diminish its appeal for all other users. It will harm the animals and plants that thrive in areas which are currently inaccessible and undeveloped.  It will do irreparable damage to this rare and precious jewel of protected wilderness. [False, the MTB community will enhance the appeal of the park by being good stewards helping to maintain a much neglected and underutilized county asset. The health and sustainability of the reservation was considered when developing the master plan and has been adopted by the UC Freeholders. ]  

 

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Plainfield

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_5805f638cda07d25a384_pool_openings_2018

Sat, June 23, 12:00 PM

Rushmore Pool, Plainfield

Pool Openings: Rushmore

Community Calendar Sports

Carousel_image_f27b8aa555275dc0b347_sip_of_summer

Sat, June 23, 4:00 PM

Plainfield Art Lofts, Plainfield

4th Annual Wine Tasting Event "Sip of Summer"

Arts & Entertainment Giving Back

Carousel_image_0c270f4981549b8a5dff_ducret_june_24_sale

Sun, June 24, 12:00 PM

Plainfield

duCret School of Art and LWV Art Sale

Register Today for Summer Youth Courses Offered at Union County College

June 23, 2018

CRANFORD, NJ – This summer the Office of Continuing Education at Union County College is expanding its course offerings for youth ages 11-18. Classes are taught by NJ-certified teachers and subject matter experts that specialize in delivering high-quality youth programs. Classes begin the week of June 25 and run through August 23.

Classes offered include Introduction to Musical Theater, ...

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 9, 2018

Dear Editor:

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by ...

Murphy Signs Bill Ending Child Marriage Championed by Westfield’s Fraidy Reiss and Unchained at Last

June 23, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill Friday that bars individuals under the age of 18 from marrying or entering a civil union. It was a major win for Fraidy Reiss, founder Westfield-based Unchained At Last, a nonprofit dedicated to helping women and girls in the US to escape or resist arranged/forced marriages and rebuild their lives.

This makes New Jersey the second ...

SRO'S - ENSEÑANDO POR EJEMPLO

June 17, 2018

Hay un grupo de oficiales de policía que les dan un servicio a nuestra comunidad de una manera notable. Todos los días estos hombres y mujeres se levantan, van al trabajo, y aseguran que nuestros hijos aprendan en un ambiente seguro. Los llamamos Oficiales de Recursos Escolares, pero son mucho más. 

Si llegas a la oficina de los Oficiales de Recursos Escolares en la ...

Empleando Nuestra Juventud 

Querido Plainfield, 

Todos esperan el verano; los días son más calientes y largos, y la madre tierra se pone su mejor vestido mientras las frutas se maduran en el sol y las flores ondean un alegre "hola". La gente comienzan los paseos de la playa o piscina, y las juntas de barbacoa en los patios son necesarios en los fines de semanas.

Aquí en la ciudad de ...

Meet Toran Smith: Union County All Star

June 18, 2018

Plainfield resident, Toran Smith, age 16, has been selected to play on the 2018 Union County underclassmen all star team.  On June 10th, the Union County All-Stars played against the Hudson County All-Stars at Kean University.  Smith played third baseman. 

Smith, a junior at Union County Vo-Tech magnet high school, is a Junior infielder on the Plainfield Cardinals Varsity ...

'Half Time' delivers with sterling cast

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other talents.

The musical centers on an effort to have seniors perform a dance number during ...

'Half Time' lights up Paper Mill stage

‘Half Time’ turns the tables on aging in gleeful production

By Liz Keill

MILLBURN, NJ – The Paper Mill Playhouse is putting on a smashing new production of “Half Time” to round out its current season.

With actress Georgia Engel in an engaging performance, the cast also features Donna McKehnie, Andre De Shieilds and Lilias White, among a host of other ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)

 

A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly

When the Men Go Off to War by Victoria Kelly (Naval Institute Press, 2015)

Victoria Kelly's first published volume of poetry, When the Men Go Off to War, is a wonder in that poems can be written so beautifully about the subject of war. Each poem is a jewel, polished and colorful, glittering with elegant imagery, and rich in emotional wallop. The book, divided into three sections, ...

The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani (Ballentine Books, 2005)

            The Queen of the Big Time by Adriana Trigiani, a New York Times best selling author, was recommended to me by a young woman who actually came from the town of Roseto, Pennsylvania, the place where the novel is set. “The author did such a wonderful job of describing how the town actually is,” said the young lady.

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

The Man in Room 306 at the Luna Stage, West Orange, NJ

            The Luna Stage, a Jersey theater gem, chose to revive its 1995 world premiere drama, The Man in Room 306, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Starring Jamil A.C. Mangan as Dr. King, this 90 minute production portrays Dr. King in the last hours of his life as he struggles to write a speech for the Poor ...

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead Books, 2017)

 

I wanted to like Into the Water by Paula Hawkins because I had enjoyed her previous novel, The Girl on the Train, which was a suspenseful thriller. However, when I finished reading the first part of the Into the Water, I realized that I had not absorbed anything that was happening in the story. I blamed myself for not paying ...