Ring in the New Year

As part of a trial program aimed at enhancing safety on the multi-use trails, the Open Space Authority has recently introduced a Bike Bell Station at the information kiosk of Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve. This addition encourages mountain bikers to prioritize responsible recreation by ringing their bells when passing fellow visitors and navigating blind turns to contributes to the safety and overall enjoyment of all trail users.  

Beginning Saturday, March 30, an addition to this pilot program will take effect to further improve safety for trail users. The one-way trail will open for multi-directional use by hikers and equestrians, while maintaining its one-way status for bicycles. This initiative aims to boost safety by promoting more predictable interactions among different user groups. Every month, the direction of the trail for mountain biking will be adjusted, and signage will guide cyclists on whether to go in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.  

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"The trails at Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve consist of a single-track path," explains Derek Neumann, the Field Operations Manager at the Open Space Authority. "Since bicycles are the fastest users on the trails and are more likely to complete the entire loop, it's advantageous to have them moving in the same direction. This not only improves traffic flow but also allows all trail users to better anticipate the direction from which the bikes will approach." 

Like many other trail agencies, the Open Space Authority initially began using directional trails in 2020 to minimize visitor interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic. With reduced head-on interactions the agency aimed to better support social distancing on the trails. While science shows that the transmission of COVID-19 is less likely to occur outdoors, there were some exciting benefits to one-way trails that led the Open Space Authority to extend their use while gathering visitor feedback.  

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From December 2021 to June 2022, the Open Space Authority conducted a survey to gather public opinion on one-way trails, also known as directional trails. The purpose was to gather insights that would inform the future of open space preserves and assist the agency in providing more meaningful, safe, and functional nature experiences for all.

The survey garnered nearly 800 responses, revealing strong sentiments about one-way trails, and almost a 50/50 split between a strong dislike to strong enjoyment. More than half of the responses specifically referred to the Arrowhead Trail (an almost 4-mile loop) at Coyote Valley Open Space Preserve. All participants were given the option to share their thoughts on the advantages and disadvantages of one-way trails. While some individuals provided comments on both aspects, others focused solely on either the pros or cons, and a few chose not to comment at all. 

Among those who highlighted the benefits of one-way trails (a total of 320 comments), 107 respondents expressed that such trails might help reduce the chances of head-on collisions with cyclists. Additionally, 44 comments mentioned how one-way trails contribute to improved traffic flow and decreased conflicts among users. Other common themes included trail etiquette and usage, the narrowness of the trail, and the need for increased education on bike etiquette. These valuable insights played a crucial role in shaping the agency's new pilot program. 

"We greatly appreciate all the visitors who adhere to good trail etiquette and follow the rules," says Cliff Irrebaria, a passionate mountain biker and Lead Open Space Technician at the Open Space Authority. "As a friendly reminder, bikes should always yield to horses, hikers, and runners out on the trail."

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For mountain bikers who prefer more flexibility in trail direction, the Open Space Authority manages three additional open space preserves with trails that accommodate all users to freely choose their preferred direction of travel, including: 

Or check out the Open Space Authority’s Biking Guide! Whether you are an experienced cyclist, just getting started, looking for mountain biking, urban bike trails, or family-friendly biking areas - our Guide to Santa Clara Valley Biking will help you have the best experience on two wheels!  

January 02, 2024
For media inquiries contact:

Charlotte Graham

Public Information Officer