news MCBC Responds: “Headlines Matter”
Reprinted from Marin IJ Readers’ Forum, January 2018
Headlines matter; IJ ’fans the flames’
The Marin County Bicycle Coalition was disappointed by the most recent Marin IJ headline on an article concerning the management of Open Space District lands, “Birders block bikers in Marin trail battle.”
There are several things wrong with the headline.
While it may attract attention to the story, it mischaracterizes the lawsuit’s settlement terms. It furthermore creates the appearance of a split between mountain bikers and nature lovers, as though you can only be one or the other. It’s a false distinction.
After 30-plus years of people talking at each other on the topic of mountain biking — an international recreational activity that was created right here in Marin — progress is finally being made to bring balance to our network of over 600 miles of trails and fire roads on 250,000 acres of public land. Change can be difficult and takes time.
Here’s what’s most troubling about the headline: It only ratchets up already-exaggerated tensions between those on bikes and others on foot, horses and especially behind the wheels of cars and trucks. The “bikers vs. everyone else” depiction, while false, is dangerous. It serves to stoke anger, encourage aggressive driving, and can lead to tragic on-road incidents.
At times like these, we need leadership from our community institutions. As Marin’s leading newspaper, we ask the IJ to help enable a healthy and productive dialogue on the subject.
At the very least, we urge you to not needlessly fan the flames.
— Tom Boss
Off-Road Director, Marin County Bicycle Coalition