The American Marine base that confiscated 45 mountain bikes last weekend has met with the local riding community to explain its actions.

NBC San Diego reports that riders were following trails on the eastern edge of the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, a part of the Sycamore Canyon Preserve, when they were escorted off the property and issued with a $500 citation. The riders will have to appear in court to pay the fine and get their bikes back.

Last night a meeting took place between the base and the San Diego Mountain Bike Association at the Mission Trails Visitor Centre to allow the affected cyclists to air their grievances.

The riders who were caught complained that there was not a fence the whole way round the 23,000 acre base but Col. Jason Woodworth, the commanding officer of MCAS Miramar explained that this was too expensive.

He also explained that an increase in riders had forced him to take action. He said: ““Every time we stop firing out there costs me, as the base CO, approximately $10,000. So you ride through there, we see you, we’ve got to stop firing, now we have to clear that range for two to three hours.”

The San Diego Mountain Bike Association issued a warning on Saturday evening that authorities were starting to enforce trespassing. In the warning it said that 15 mountain bikers had already been affected but a further 30 were caught over the weekend.

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The warning said: “We feel horrible about what is happening but the marines have told us this would happen.  Our military is at a heightened security alert (for obvious reasons) and must ensure their base is secure. SDMBA is working closely with agencies and land owners for alternate legal options.  For now, please let everyone know what is happening.”

The border of the base is not physically marked the whole way round which may have been a cause of confusion for some riders.

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MCAS Miramar released a statement on Monday night that said: “It is imperative that anyone who bikes on the eastern border of the base understand that this is part of an active military training area. Military Police Officers patrol the area regularly.

“We have and will continue to work with community organizations, such as the San Diego Mountain Biking Association, to help educate and deter people from coming onto the base illegally.”

  • AndrewR

    Read a map, it is your responsibility to not trespass. I am an ‘entitled to ride my mountain biker” because I can read a map and don’t trespass.

    If I realise I am on the wrong trail because of my own navigation error I back track of my own accord, I don’t think “oh well its not hurting anyone I’ll just nip through”.

    No I was not there, but one can reasonably extrapolate that if they had
    acted humbly and apologised and immediately offered to back track they
    might not have had their bikes confiscated.

    You are correct you are wasting your time as you don’t appear to be able to accept that people need to take responsibility for your own mistakes, expecting that it must always be someone else’s fault “there was no sign” or “I did not see the sign”.

    The bottom line is that they were trespassing, whether they intended to do so or not is irrelevant.

  • Abraham Lincoln

    lol, you just said what I was saying, without realising it 😛

    The point is exactly this: “I did not see the sign” because there was no sign! Trails and roads that are forbidden for citizens must be clearly signalized.

    Chesler is right. You criticized their example, but your example is the one that is really lame. Read it again, maybe you will realize that you are talking about someone missing a signal that was there… We are talking here about signal that do not exist.

    Also you don’t know what happened there and assume that “maybe the security patrol was faced with a bunch of self entitled mountain bikers”.

    Well, I must admit that I am just wasting my time writing all this, because you are obviously a self entitled anti-cycling-er. Please, man, reconsider your views. Car age is over. Bike age is starting. Or you thought the number of cars on the world could grow forever?

  • AndrewR

    You need to spend more time riding (where you are allowed to ride) and less time discussing this with me & the world. I don’t really care as a). I believe that the military are generally very good at marking their training areas (both on the ground and on maps), b). I don’t live, ride or visit California, and c). I can read a map so only ride trails that I know I am allowed to ride on. I do think it was a bit harsh to confiscate the bicycles but maybe the security patrol was faced with a bunch of self entitled mountain bikers and decided that the only way to stop them riding through the training area was to confiscate the bikes.

  • chesler

    I’m looking at Section 602 of the California penal code,
    What does “real property” mean in California law? If it is any land, the rest of the section and following are pointless; in context it seems to be restricted to curtilage. (o) talks about “land, real property, or structures”.
    Most of the paragraphs refer to destructive or exclusive activity (cutting wood, taking oysters.)
    There are paragraphs that require notice (eg (h), (p)) or land enclosed by fences.) Are bicycles vehicles under Section 670 of the Vehicle Code, for (n)?

    You seem to be telling me someone could be guilty of
    criminal trespass in California for crossing the unfenced, unposted
    boundary between public land and unimproved private land.

  • AndrewR

    There is no right to roam in California so it is actually ignorance of the law as there is no default right to walk or ride anywhere. It is the responsibility of the individual to ensure that they are taking their recreation on legal trails and remaining within an area that they are permited to use. To use your own stupod example, if I fail to see the 30 mph sign, it does not mean that I can be excused from doing 50 mph in a 30 mph zone.

  • chesler

    I don’t know California law. In general land has to be properly posted (not on a map or in a county office, but on the land), or other constructive notice given, for encroaching on it to be trespassing.
    This is not ignorance of the law, but ignorance of facts.

    If an interstate highway is not posted, it isn’t a 30mph zone.

  • Marky

    They will “let you off” if there is no sign.

  • Dan

    How is it that a military base – with a live firing range – cannot afford a FENCE?

  • AndrewR

    Because it will be marked on a map and it is a rider’s responsibility to remain on trails within the area that they are legally allowed to be on. And last time I checked ignorance of the law is not a defence. Do you expect a trafffic policement to not fine you for doing 45 in a 30 zone when you offer some lame excuse such as “I did not realise I was speeding” or “I did not see the sign”.

  • Christy Starr

    Thanks James, it happens….

    Wow one low ranking Marine on the trail with a radio, problem solved and everyone keeps on riding, just sayn. Sounds like a new Base Commanding Officer or Military Police (MP) Commanding Officer exerting power. Can’t wait for the follow up story when they half apologize, half say they where right while explaining a new policy change that does not include confiscated bike, fines, and court dates for the general public. YAY for you Mr. MP you have power, I have a Trek, I win.

  • Abraham Lincoln

    That’s ridiculous! What kind of security is this? If this is a security area it must be clearly signalised. If the area is not marked as private (or military property) how can this be trespassing? How can the cyclist know they do not have right of way on that road? This SDMBA should be taking steps to sue the military and seek compensation for forcefully seizing the bikes. In any case, in the country of the car, this disrespect towards cycling is not to wonder.

  • James Smurthwaite

    Sorry Christy, we’re not sure what happened there, it should be viewable for you now

  • Steve_Vai

    If they’re going to confiscate bikes then perhaps they should be marking the perimeter of their base.

  • Christy Starr

    ??? Where is the story??? Why? Where? Who?