Wednesday evening, just before 6:00 p.m., SWAMP Club Member Forrest was observed going for a night ride with lights on at Boyette with his girlfriend.
Tuesday another small group of folks were seen heading into Boyette with lights at night. If I find their names I will post up as well.
With daylight savings time, darkness comes about 5:00 p.m. and a lot of people donít have time during the day, so they ride at night. Certainly itís a different atmosphere, a different feel to ride the trails at night, thatís pretty neat. The only problem is that night mountain bike riding at Boyette, Alafia, and Wilderness Trails is illegal unless previously authorized by the land managers. At sundown, State and County Parks close, and anybody entering after hours is trespassing, a misdemeanor.
Only on one Friday night a month mountain bikers are permitted to ride Boyette trails at night. We would like to add more to that schedule, but to get just this much taken away from us will not allow that to happen.
Now Forrest, of all people, should know this, as it has been posted both on the SWAMP Forum and SWAMP Yahoo!Group. Plus he has already had the Sheriff called on him at Alafia to be removed just a few months ago for trespassing with a big incident with another camper. Sorry to have call you out, and any others who access the trail system at night, but you can ruin it for everyone.
The Land Manager has agreed to give SWAMP a test period to do night rides at Boyette once a month to see how it goes before allowing us to have regularly scheduled night rides there. I would like to be able to have it more than once a month, but if we, collectively as the mountain biking community, canít abide by the park rules then what little we do have will be taken away.
It took a while to get the county park system's introduction to a new and fast-growing sport: night mountain biking. It can quickly be taken away if it is abused.
County Parks, and especially Nature Preserves, donít allow night activity - period. For us to have agreed upon times and days to this is major.
ďNight bikersĒ are people breaking the rules. They could ruin it for everyone else.
With nobody minding the parks at night, except during special patrols, county officials are worried about liability issues and accident response. Violations and liability issues get things closed!!
Accidents are a main concern, if somebody gets badly hurt, nobody is patrolling the park at night or is aware people are even out there.
There is little doubt that night mountain biking is a recognized, fast-growing offshoot of the sport. Just look at the great light choices for bikes. We would like to achieve a regular ride legally.
Even with diligent preparation, night mountain biking is risky, and the county's potential liability would be huge if it allowed mountain bikers to have their way.
There are reckless people who take advantage of places to ride at unauthorized times that put the brakes on the legal activity for the rest of us.
"Night riding is definitely a thrill, but lets make it enjoyable, and LEGAL for the rest of us.
SWAMP Club President