In an opinion piece in the Marin IJ, Dipsea Race stalwart Alex Varner makes the case that Mount Tam trail rules need to be more inclusive:

“I am writing to advocate for a more inclusive Mount Tamalpais,” Varner writes. “I started running the trails on Tam when I was a freshman in high school in 1999 and have been a regular user ever since. One thing that has always struck me is the relative lack of inclusivity when it comes to trail use. People on foot and horseback have far more access to trails than cyclists do, while cyclists are largely relegated to fire roads. This lack of access is kind of hard to believe, given that Marin touts itself as the birthplace of mountain biking. I think there is an opportunity here to look at areas to expand cyclist access and reduce conflict.”

“I think we need to focus on existing visitors rather than attracting new ones, as there are many cyclists that currently ride in Marin,” Varner continues. “They would leap at the chance to access trails not previously open to them. Being more inclusive of cyclists would also increase the number of people who would volunteer for trail work, which would go a long way to improving sustainability and maintaining existing trails (rather than adding new ones). There are a lot of existing trails I can think of that would present excellent opportunities to try out a new more inclusive dynamic to allow both cyclists and pedestrians. As a lifelong trail user on Tam, I think everyone should have an opportunity to explore it in a respectful and sustainable manner, which is not the case right now. We have a chance to make a change for the better without sacrificing any of the aspects we all love of the mountain.”

Varner is widely known as arguably the best runner to never have won the Dipsea, having won the Best Time Trophy a record countless times but has never finished first overall as he consistently faces a significant handicap with runners in front of him with a healthy head start.


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