Take Action to Increase Bicycling Opportunities in National Parks
The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) has proposed an important rule change that will make it easier for parks to open trails to mountain biking. IMBA urges mountain bikers to register comments in support of the new rule. We have been asking the NPS to make this change since the 1990s — we now enter a 60-day commentary period to make the change official.
Take Action Now!
We know that several groups are working hard to defeat this proposal. It will take thousands of comments supporting the NPS to ensure the rule is approved. Please lend your voice to the discussion today.
Bicycling broadens recreational offerings in national parks and helps Americans get much-needed exercise. It connects people with the natural world and is a fun, low-impact activity. Observers of national parks worry that the NPS is losing relevance with today's youth — bicycling can help address that problem. Mountain biking is a great way to help kids fall in love with parks. According to the Outdoor Industry Foundation, bicycling is a leading “gateway activity” that gets kids outside and interested in outdoor pursuits, such as hiking, camping and fishing.
Many trails will not be good candidates for bicycle use. IMBA recognizes that bicycling will not be considered in Wilderness Areas or Wilderness Study Areas, and that many historic parks and battlefields will not be suitable for mountain biking. We also know, however, that shared-use trails have proven successful in thousands of locations, including many federally managed parks.
The most promising properties offer a combination of non-Wilderness lands and underutilized facilities that make them good candidates for expanded mountain biking opportunities. IMBA-affiliated clubs can assist the NPS in identifying the best locations for mountain biking. If the local NPS staff agrees an opportunity exists, our clubs stand ready to provide park staff with volunteer resources.
As the proposal explicitly states, none of the NPS procedures for environmental review — or opportunities for public commentary — will be diminished by this rule change. What it achieves is a more manageable system for adopting mountain biking trails. The proposal states, "As a general matter, the proposed rule provides park superintendents with a more efficient and effective way to determine whether opening existing trails to bicycles would be appropriate in the park unit they manage."