Earlier this January, bike riders riding on a popular trail cutting through Miramar Marine Corps base near Santee Lake were stopped and ticketed by military police officers.
Many cyclists have said they didn’t realize it was federal property. “You look at this and it’s really cool to be out here,” said cyclist Mark Moore as reported by 10 News San Diego.
One of the riders who was stopped by MP’s captured the interaction on his GoPro. One of the cyclists sad, “There is not one stinkin’ sign even remotely close. That’s why we ride it.” All who were stopped received tickets, except for the 14-year-old riders whose bikes were confiscated by the MPs.
The rider explained the ticket saying, “It says basically we were trespassing and this is the evidence property custody receipt” in the newscast. Wishing that the military police had given his group a warning instead, Moore noted, “For us, it seemed absurd with all the problems in the world — they are coming after mountain bikers,” he said.
The Marine Corps released this statement:
The commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and the military police take great interest and caution in the issue of hikers and mountain bikers coming onto East Miramar in unauthorized areas. We have weapons training ranges located on East Miramar, which are annual rifle and pistol qualification. There is a very real safety hazard for anyone that may come onto the federal property and the trails in question place those who trespass onto the base in potentially life-threatening danger.
MCAS Miramar has diligently worked in alerting the community of off-limits areas and have posted signs and warnings across the government property to further increase awareness. Similarly, Military Police Officers patrol the area regularly. Anyone who comes onto East Miramar, knowingly or not, may be federally cited, face possible fines and have their bikes impounded until the citations are adjudicated.
Over the past weekend, our military police officers had an increased presence in the area and cited approximately 50 individuals and impounded more than 45 bicycles and 3 motorcycles. The impounded vehicles will be returned to the owners once the citations have been adjudicated.
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. 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.
February brought a packed meeting to address recent tickets issued. The base commander stepped up enforcement due to mountain bikers traversing a ridge above the Miramar firing range last year. The Marines were forced to shut down training until the civilians could be cleared from the area. After trespassers stopped training several times in the last few months, costing taxpayers about $10,000 each time, the Marines stepped up the enforcement.
The public outcry encouraged the Marine base to work with the San Diego Mountain Biking Association after bikers received $500 tickets with fines for trespassing. In late March, the bikes were returned to their owners, the people issues tickets were given a reduced fine of $250, and the misdemeanors were dropped from their records, according to CBS8.
It appears a further resolution has been made with the base, but the San Diego Mountain Biking Association isn’t finished with the issue and would like to see more trails.
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