Atascadero police warn against motorcycle riding in the Salinas riverbed

April 12, 2024


The Atascadero Police Department is issuing a warning to the public about the escalating practice of illegal motorcycle riding in the Salinas riverbed. 

In recent months, there has been a surge in unauthorized motorcycle activity in the riverbed area, according to the city of Atascadero. Officials say motorcycle riding in the riverbed violates local ordinances and state laws; endangers public safety; and endangers the ecosystem of the area.

Motorcycle activity in the riverbed presents a severe safety hazard to riders, equestrian riders, pedestrians and nearby residents. The rugged terrain and unpredictable conditions increase the likelihood of accidents, potentially causing serious injuries or fatalities, officials say. 

Environmentally, motorcycle riding in the Salinas riverbed can cause soil erosion, damage vegetation and disrupt wildlife habitats. Likewise, the loud noise generated by motorcycle engines disrupts the tranquility of the area, causing disturbances to nearby residents and wildlife, according to the city.

Atascadero officials are committed to working closely with law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders to quickly address the issue. Officials ask that residents report any instances of illegal motorcycle riding in the Salinas riverbed to the Atascadero Police Department by calling (805) 461-5051.

“As stewards of our community, it is incumbent upon all of us to uphold the law and protect the natural beauty and safety of our surroundings,” the city stated a news release. “Together, we can preserve the integrity of the Salinas riverbed for future generations to enjoy.”


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Out of town valley kooks love to ride through the riverbed.

I live directly across the street from a riverbed and walk in it daily with my dogs. I 100% prefer seeing kids on a dirt bike vs the homeless & their trash. That said, I can’t tell you how many times the dirt bike riders have driven right down the middle of people walking, we all have to turn around to not get dirt kicked up in our faces, and many are now riding down the sidewalk right past our houses. I see some that arrive in their trucks, unload their bikes and head deep, away from people. That is nice to see. I will agree, if you can’t have dirt bikes, then clear out the homeless too!!

I believe all of the riverbed and adjacent areas in Atascadero are private property. Seems like it should be up to the discretion of the landowner what is allowed. Users of the riverbed properties should respect the owners’ wishes.

Lets lay it down where its actually should be, wealthy equestrian lobbyist have the idea they are the only ones allowed in the river bed and have pushed for it for years. I mean how dare we fill we have a right to enjoy a area that they feel is only for them.

When I was in town we always took a rip through the river bed on our dirt bikes. It was fun. But I guess these big city transplants want to shut down another thing that keeps kids away from drugs and video games.

In California, the public has a right to engage in recreational activity on the bed below ordinary highwater mark of a stream is in fact navigable even if only in oar and motor propelled small craft, and even if usable only for recreational navigation (that is, not susceptible of use for commercial navigation in 1850 at the time California entered the Union and therefore meeting the federal test for state ownership of the bed of the water). For these purposes it does not matter that the water was not susceptible of use for commercial navigation in 1850 when California entered the Union, and therefore, for which California was at one time the owner of the bed up to the high water mark.

Those that argue that the right to use the temporarily dry bed below high water mark refer to the facts of People ex rel U. S. Webb v. California Fish Co. Inc. (1913) 166 Cal. 576).State of California v. Superior Court (Lyon) (1981) 29 Cal.3d 210 [172 Cal.Rptr. 696, 625 P.2d 239] (Clear Lake); State of California v. Superior Court (Fogerty) (1981) 29 Cal.3d 240 [172 Cal.Rptr. 713, 625 P.2d 256] (Lake Tahoe), which arose on lands formerly owned by the state. In California Fish it was held that the sale of land by the state did not extinguish the pre-existing public trust in the land transferred, so that the public could continue to exercise the incidents of navigation including recreational ;uses on the land and the new land owner could not interfere with that use. In Lyon and Fogerty, the court held that the rule in California Fish applied to nontidal lands under and along navigable inland waters. California Fish, Lyon and Fogerty were decided based on fact patters in which the state currently or formerly owned the bed of the water below ordinary high water mark because the water had been susceptible for use for commercial navigation in 1850 when California entered the Union. See Discussion in the California State Lands Commission’s Legal Guide to Public Access and Use of California’s Inland Navigable Waters (11/20/2017) page 38-39.

Have to make this point; Human beings are not Motorcycles. They lack a combustion engine, oil, a transmission, tires. Seems like there is some confusion about this. If we break down the anatomy of these two things, believe it or not, there are differences, as radical as this may seem to be. Poverty isnt a choice, it isnt fun, half of the USA lives paycheck to paycheck. Camping is fun, on vacation, not as a last option to survive. It saddens me how much our community Hates our veterans and mentally disabled disadvantaged unhoused and treat them as if they are a Cast, like the same people we helped liberate in ww2, who, were treated like some people in our community treat our Nature Preserves and unhoused. It’s so easy to see how people fall through the cracks in a country that only, truly promotes rich getting richer in this current times. It’s a shame so many lack religion and compassion and dont help our community, just judge it, exploit it, and curse it and its disadvantaged peoples of all types, as this community has done historically.

Your characterization is unfair and inaccurate. SLO County governments, churches and non-profit community organizations have engaged in unwavering efforts for at least the past four decades to alleviate hunger, provide assistance to those without shelter, and offer other associated social welfare programs. If we are ever to achieve real change in helping to lift up those who suffer poverty, homelessness and mental illness, a herculean victory must be won in removing the venomous influence of drugs on society. These addictive, mind-rotting substances are gutting the very humanity out of your new Untouchables Caste in America. Some may refuse to acknowledge it but the foremost factor for those “falling through the cracks” into the downtrodden class is due in large part to America’s chronic insatiable demand and almost cavalier normalization of drugs in today’s society. Unless we can stem the tsunami of mind/body/soul poisons flooding our borders & ports and force the evaporation of our shameful demand for these evermore corrosive substances, all the religion and all the compassion in the world won’t achieve the restoration of the fallen and destroyed souls who have succumbed to substance abuse & addiction.

Let them have some fun. It’s just sand out there and some lizards. It seems like kids can’t have fun anymore.

There are free local classes to educate you about our diverse ecosystem, free, free free. There are over 400 native plant varieties in Atascadero, some of them so fragile they only grow in tiny pockets, no where else on earth. Kids can have fun, at places designated for motor vehicle use, not State Nature Preserves with fragile habitat. My old professors would be pretty sad at some of the ignorance here being displayed. What do I care though, I just want safe water, a safe place to be present in nature, for myself and son. Why cant kids ride horses anymore, guess what, that’s Legal in the Salinas, and what, there are local trail riding chapters!?!? I do, and ride dirt bikes. While being cognizant of things past my own nose. Hm. Cant love something if you dont even know it exists. Who am I though to care?

State Nature Preserves with fragile habitat

The Salinas River is not a State Nature Preserve. There is a small portion where it connects into the Pacific, 200 miles away in Fremont, that is a national wildlife refuge.

What do I care though, I just want safe water, a safe place to be present in nature, for myself and son.

Re: Safe water. Motorcyle riding is not polluting the water source. Feces is.

Re: Safe place in nature. There are plenty of trails in Atascadero, maintained by the city and county.

There are plenty of locals who enjoy motorcycle riding. The river has always been the spot for it. And it always will be.

Atascadero is horrible at supporting youth activities. Want to ride your motorcycle? Better head out of the county. Want to skateboard? The skate park has been demolished and the remaining indoor park costs money to enter and is constructed for scooters. Want to ride bmx? The track by the river has been removed. Shoot, even if you want to play basketball during the winter, the city’s indoor court at the Traffic Way rec is closed 90% of the time.

If you wonder why there are so many kids doing drugs… boredom is at the top of the list. It’s easier to do fentanyl than it is to ride your motorcycle in Atascadero.

Why cant kids ride horses anymore

And how privileged are you to think that horseback riding is some common activity?

A dirtbike can be found used for barely a grand on Craigslist and just sits in a small space in your garage. Horse feed over the course of a year can be 3x that if you don’t own a pasture. Boarding, grooming, dental, etc. adds up. You’re talking about a hobby only a select few can enjoy. That’s why most “‘kids can’t ride horses anymore.”