Youth Pioneer Safe Work

By John Roberts

[republished with permission from The Buzz of the BTCEB]

BTCEB [Bicycle Trails Council of the East Bay] is helping develop trail work safety practices.  This is in collaboration with the Piedmont High School (PHS) Mountain Bike Team at Joaquin Miller Park (JMP). The focus is learning, more so than the work performed.  Visualizing the initial step is easy, it involves basic social distancing.  But actual trail work efforts can zap this concept.  That is why additional risk mitigation practices were implemented from the ‘get go’.  

Initially the volunteers participated in a live one-hour online class.  In addition, youth athletes as well as their coaches were kept to their riding pods of less than 10 volunteers each. This meant that each individual pod was assigned distinct work days. In turn, the individuals in each pod were broken up into work pairs. The purpose of the two-person teams was for one athlete to supervise trail traffic, while their partner worked.  Not only did this allow for the students to better focus on the quality of their trail work, it also kept one volunteer as a “sentinel” to focus on park visitor traffic, possible working partner hazards, and independent quality control.  For example, when the “monitoring” partners see a park user approaching on the trail, they yell “hiker”, “biker”, or “dog walker”.  This serves as notification to the park user that they can pass, and as appropriate, work is also eased and a focus on social distancing protocols is emphasized. This approach also increases the quality of work as it enhances onsite learning and balances work through alternating partner breaks.

In this manner, the PHS work pods worked on the Big Trees, the Sequoia Bayview, and the Horse Arena connector trails’ drainage via duff removal and ensured these trails have virtually no puddles after the next rain.  This helps keep singletrack narrow, safer, and more sustainable as water will no longer be splashed down trail.  During March, yet another PHS pod provided maintenance to the JMP pump track.  Park users consistently thanked the PHS youth as they went by the work sites.  Accordingly, thank you to all the great stewards that contributed towards this successful trail maintenance effort.  With increased COVID-related trail use, JMP greatly needed the care.