New bill could end blanket ban on bikes in Wilderness

Congressman Tom McClintock backed by Sustainable Trails Coalition

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Could this new bill end the long standing blanket ban on riding bikes in designated Wilderness areas?

Could this new bill end the long standing blanket ban on riding bikes in designated Wilderness areas?

The Sustainable Trails Coalition sent out a press release this week, applauding Congressman Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) for introducing legislation to let federal land managers regulate bicycle use on Wilderness trails. Full details of the bill can be found at www.congress.gov.

The bill, H.R. 1349, puts mountain bikers on the same footing as campers, hikers, hunters, and equestrians by restoring federal agency authority to set conditions on cyclists’ use of trails in Wilderness.

Congress, says the STC, intended to allow human-powered travel in Wilderness when it passed the Wilderness Act in 1964, and for years afterward bicycling was allowed. But in 1984, with minimal public input, the Forest Service overturned a good regulation, in effect from 1981-84, that allowed locally based federal employees to decide where bicycles could be ridden in Wilderness areas, replacing it with a nationwide blanket ban. Other agencies followed suit.

Representative McClintock’s legislation directs federal agencies to manage Wilderness as Congress originally intended and end blanket bans on “bicycles, wheelchairs, strollers, and game carts within any wilderness area.”

“Congressman McClintock’s bill will give mountain bikers long-overdue relief from agency misunderstandings,” said STC board member Ted Stroll.

“It’s important to understand that reversing the ban is not an open permit,” added STC board member Jackson Ratcliffe, who says his organization’s base of thousands of mountain bikers will vigorously support Congressman McClintock’s bill. “Land management agencies already have the authority to regulate campsite locations, hunting, and where horses are allowed, or not. This legislation will simply return decision-making back to local authorities.”

The bill currently has three co-sponsors in Congressmen Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), and Stevan Pearce (R-N.M.)

The STC was founded in 2015 to reverse outdated and counterproductive blanket bicycle bans in Wilderness, Recommended Wilderness, and Wilderness Study Areas, on the Pacific Crest Trail, and on parts of the Continental Divide Trail.

For more info on the STC please visit www.sustainabletrailscoalition.org.

About the author: Mtbr

Mtbr.com is a site by mountain bikers for mountain bikers. We are the best online resource for information for mountain bikers of all abilities, ages and interests.


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  • AC says:

    Glad to see you covering this. It almost makes up for the damage done by your ebike support.

  • JDUB says:

    Just keep Missouri Rep Jay Houghton away from the paperwork….

  • T Arnold says:

    Please, please write and call your representatives. For more information, visit the Sustainable Trails Coalition website for more information.

  • Bob says:

    Kudos to the Sustainable Trails Coalition for picking up the torch IMBA dropped in its infancy.

  • b0bg says:

    I’m stoked this problem is seeing action. I’m happy about STC and I’m understanding that sometimes you have to deal with politicians that have not always had the best intentions regarding our public lands (sell offs and damaging exploitation by oil/gas/mineral/ag interests are part of these sponsor’s repertoire in the past).

    I’m cautiously optimistic, and hope to read the bill at some point before assuming this is not a bad deal in bike friendly clothing. Trust but verify.

  • Tim says:

    “trust but verify” – absolutely, but easy on the trust.

    Without seeing the text of the bill, I’m more than a bit skeptical of a bill sponsored by 3 (R) Congressmen. What’s the hidden badness? Please, Congressmen, prove me wrong!

  • Rich says:

    Skepticism from some of you is understandable and actually a good thing; we’ve been let down by politicians repeatedly. Central control by the Feds of things like this is ridiculous. Thank you Tom McClintock!

  • keith allen says:

    Yes! I support this in a big way! I’ll be writing my Colorado 5th district congressmen and senators tonight to urge them to support this! To those against this I would say that it’s that type of [selfish] thinking that caused the Democrats to lose the election. Remember Al Gore’s “Roadless Initiative”? I’ll bet you Al does; it cost him the election against Bush.

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