Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

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azdesertfather
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Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by azdesertfather » Aug 03 2016 7:36 pm

Two Utah legislators are trying to overturn the no-bikes provision in the Wilderness Act. Should it be stopped?? I'd love to hear what you all think...I'm torn but lean to "no."

Bill would end longstanding ban on bikes in US wilderness
http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/ ... SITE=AZPHG
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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by azbackpackr » Aug 03 2016 8:48 pm

I'm a mountain biker myself, but I lean to "no."

If they decide to allow it, I'd want to see it regulated. Okay in some areas, not in others.
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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by SpiderLegs » Aug 03 2016 8:51 pm

I'm going to lean to no as well. This coming from a guy who worked at a bike shop in college and is somewhat acquainted with some of the founding fathers of mountain biking. I like knowing that there are some spots in the world where I won't get run over by mountain bikes. I can't imagine Kachina or Weatherford trails overrun by mountain bikes.

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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by flagscott » Aug 03 2016 9:28 pm

Strong no here. I have hiked in wilderness areas all over the West, and the vast majority of them are simply not suitable for bikes--steep, narrow trails, fragile vegetation, no place to even step off and let a bike pass in a lot of places. It's just an irresponsible idea, and if it passes, hikers will get injured. And I certainly wouldn't trust local USFS and BLM offices to make the decisions--those guys are generally more motivated by avoiding complaints than doing what is right for the land.

Anyway, whatever your opinion, I seriously doubt the bill is going anywhere. Congress will be in recess soon to campaign, and then a brief lame duck session to follow where nothing will get done, I"m sure.

(Oh, and wouldn't you know it--Mike Lee is up for reelection this year, and he timed the release of the bill to coincide with the big Outdoor Retail show in Salt Lake City. Yeah, this is a PR stunt.)

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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by rcorfman » Aug 03 2016 10:20 pm

Only if they allow hang gliders.

Seriously, I think not. I raced road bicycles for twenty years and do a lot of mountain biking these days (never competitively as I wanted some riding just for down time) and don't see the need. As far as I can tell, bicycles are awfully hard on trails, maybe more so than stock.
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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by AZLumberjack » Aug 04 2016 6:11 am

Definitely NO!
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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by nathanbrisk » Aug 04 2016 1:22 pm

Yes . . . can't think of any good reason why not. Within reason, let people do what they want to do.
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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by friendofThundergod » Aug 04 2016 2:03 pm

@nathanbrisk
can't think of any good reason why not
Never had a bad experience with a mountain bike, but the CT was choked full with mountain bikers in the non-wilderness areas and it certainly makes for some less than ideal hiking...Nearly every thru-hiker I met was grateful to reach the confines of wilderness areas where they were not allowed...

In terms of why not? I would ask you to imagine walking on about a 6-8 inch wide path shaped like a half pipe, several inches deep for about ten miles and you will see why mountain bikes are not allowed in wilderness areas...They are simply incapable of "treading lightly" and do some tremendous damage to a trail's tread and create difficult, extremely narrow paths to travel on by foot...In turn, trails next to the trail begin to develop for those unwilling, or incapable of walking in the narrow bike tread, this further increases the human impact on an area and expedites erosion...
mountain bikers are not traditional users, such as hikers or horse-packers. Mountain bikes were not commercially produced for off-road use until the early 1980s. By allowing them to proliferate in roadless areas, the Forest Service nourishes yet another anti-wilderness constituency
When mechanized mountain bikers demand access to proposed and designated wilderness, they fail to understand that if they succeed, owners of unimagined future contraptions will certainly demand equal treatment. So will modern-day snow machine and all-terrain vehicle owners. To loosen wildland restrictions now starts us down that slippery slope.
Last edited by friendofThundergod on Aug 04 2016 2:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by nathanbrisk » Aug 04 2016 2:18 pm

@friendofThundergod that's why I qualified my statement with "good" :) i know there are reasons why people wouldn't like bikes in the wilderness--i just don't find them to be very good reasons. certainly bikes leave a mark, but so do we. i'm definitely grateful that motorized vehicles aren't allowed in the wilderness, but i just don't put mountain bikers into that same category.

i know y'all hikers get pretty possessive of the wilderness, and you want it all to yourself, but come on guys . . . who can own a tree? don't make me go all pocahontas on ya . . .
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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by DallinW » Aug 04 2016 2:54 pm

nathanbrisk wrote:certainly bikes leave a mark, but so do we.
When you objectively compare the impacts made to the land on a mountain biking trail vs a wilderness trail, in my experience one definitely leaves much more damage, and a less pristine landscape compared to the other. ;)

https://youtu.be/BAFQ_jCRJI8?t=3m40s Enjoy! This guy's channel is full of examples of how to damage a perfectly good trail.

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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by JasonCleghorn » Aug 04 2016 4:13 pm

Keep them out. Drones too.
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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by Tough_Boots » Aug 04 2016 5:23 pm

Designating something a wilderness area is not just about regulating recreational use-- its about protecting it. If bikes have a harsher impact, then they shouldn't be on land that has been granted more protections.

Then just watch how trails change once bike are allowed-- you're gonna end up with people wanting to reroute everything for the cyclists just like they've done up in Pine where now you've gotta take 5 switchbacks to gain 20 ft.
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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by CannondaleKid » Aug 04 2016 5:43 pm

nathanbrisk wrote:i just don't find them to be very good reasons. certainly bikes leave a mark, but so do we. i'm definitely grateful that motorized vehicles aren't allowed in the wilderness, but i just don't put mountain bikers into that same category.
Personally I thoroughly enjoy hiking, mountain biking as well 4-wheeling (Jeep not ATV), and while being a strong proponent of all three, there ARE numerous 'good' reasons why NOT to allow bikes in Wilderness areas.

First off, biking does not fit within the spirit OR the letter-of-the-law for areas designated as a Federal Wilderness.
If anyone doesn't understand what a Federal Wilderness is, now might be a good time to find out.

Here it is straight from the NPS: Federal Wilderness FAQs

As far as leaving a mark, the video DallinW linked above attests to the fact there very likely will be a LOT more wear-and-tear on trails if bikes are allowed.

I ride a number of local multi-use (hike/bike/equestrian) trails on a reasonably regular basis and it is a rare time that I don't find a new 'line' or even a new shortcut some biker decided to create. Once it is created, it isn't long before the off-shoot becomes a 'new' trail.
{EDIT} I agree with Tough-Boots "Then just watch how trails change once bike are allowed"

With this in mind, I see absolutely no reason NOT to think this same thing would happen if bikes were allowed in a Wilderness.

In response to:
nathanbrisk wrote:i'm definitely grateful that motorized vehicles aren't allowed in the wilderness
I'd be interested to know why you feel that way toward motorized vehicles.
While not knowing your answer, I'd still ask, couldn't you use similar logic why it should be any different for mountain bikes?
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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by afrankie » Aug 05 2016 5:11 pm

good topic. is it the wilderness or our hiking that we're trying to protect? i have a difficult time finding the differences in impact to the wilderness between a bicyclist and a hiker. 1) both are self propelled 2) both have limited physical impact (tire tracks v. footprints) 3) both can emit noise 4) both can be very harmful, or leave no trace - it really depends on the user.

if it's hikers we're trying to protect, then i agree, who's really had a pleasant experience on a multi-purpose trail with mtbers zooming past? ;) but for the wear and tear of a trail - well the existence of a trail already marks disturbance, and while the extent of the disturbance (thinking depth and compaction of tire marks) may increase from bike use, i don't see significant differences in the area of disturbance between these two modes. the same trail is still being used....(unless it isn't)

the concern i have is that if mtbers are allowed across all wilderness areas then new trails will inevitably be created both formally and informally. existing trails in wilderness areas are designed for hikers, and mtbers will create more desirable trails both with nps endorsement and without. this is a consequence of having a 1964 law enacted before mountainbiking caught on.

i'd like to see bikes permitted only in certain areas - basically where capacity for new trails exists and not blanket it in wildernesses - but i don't see nps ready to evaluate it on a wilderness by wilderness basis. but if mountainbiking was around in the 60s, i'm not so sure they would have specifically prohibited it. camping, fishing, and hunting are also allowed in the wilderness.

any idea of what/which areas instigated this? moab's getting out-grown :?
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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by jonathanpatt » Aug 05 2016 5:26 pm

Absolutely not. They are against the intent of the Wilderness Act, which forbids motorized and mechanized transportation to provide a protected area where humans can travel via more traditional and ponderous means of transportation only (e.g. walking, horseback and non-motorized boats). Nothing against mountain biking—I'm all in favor of allowing it on many trails outside of Wilderness, and it generally is allowed on National Forest trails unless otherwise marked, but Wilderness trails should remain designated for foot and horse use only. It's not like all public land is Wilderness—there are plenty of opportunities for mountain biking outside of Wilderness Areas.

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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by CannondaleKid » Aug 05 2016 5:42 pm

afrankie wrote:any idea of what/which areas instigated this?
I believe the gist of the article linked is down to Utah reps tired of "another overreaching federal regulation that hamstrings locals".

In all probably it's just part of Utah's ongoing wish for more Federal land to be turned over to the state so they benefit directly from the $$ when the state turns around and leases land to mining and other money-making interests.

It's nice to read farther down in the article that even businesses relying on biking see the value in NOT having bikes in the Wilderness:
"Wilderness is the first time we as a species decided to put the needs of nature above the needs of man," said Ashley Korenblat, the owner of a bicycling tour company based in the mountain bike Moab, Utah, a red rock mountain biking playground. "We don't need to ride our bikes everywhere."
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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by flagscott » Aug 06 2016 8:10 am

afrankie wrote:any idea of what/which areas instigated this? moab's getting out-grown :?
It wasn't an area. It's a political stunt. Mike Lee, the Republican Utah senator is up for re-election this year. He sees the polls and knows that Trump does not poll very well in Utah (not compared to McCain or Romney for sure). And Lee also knows that he has a bad environmental record, which does not help with younger voters (4% rating according to the League of Conservation Voters). The big Outdoor Retailer show was in Salt Lake City this week, attracting a lot of attention to outdoor recreation in Utah. So, he timed the release of this bill to coincide with the meeting and to give himself some cred on environmental issues with younger and outdoorsy voters.

Anyone who knows anything about Congress knows that bills that you hope to get passed should not be released just a few months before the end of the congressional session--there just isn't enough time for all of the hearings and debate and markup. So, it's hard to imagine that Lee thinks that this can really pass. But this was perfectly timed to attract attention and make Lee look like he cares about outdoor recreationists.

I all but guarantee that when the new Congress starts in January, Lee will not bother reintroducing this bill. Political stunt designed to peel off a few votes from the mountain biking crowd. That's it.

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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by chumley » Aug 06 2016 8:47 am

It amazes me how much "traction" this kind of crap gets. So many people are clueless about "how a bill becomes a law" that it's actually sad. Political pandering at it's finest. It's frustrating when it happens on an issue you care about, by a representative of your state, just for fundraising and reelection purposes. And smart people support it! (This forum is filled with more than a few topics that discuss some publicity stunt bill that was introduced). It's why congress overall has an approval rating below 15% and yet over 90% who run for reelection win. :-({|=
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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by joebartels » Aug 06 2016 9:56 pm

Wilderness Areas remind me of LNT. The only way either truly work is by eliminating people.
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Re: Should bikes be allowed in wilderness lands?

Post by friendofThundergod » Aug 07 2016 7:08 am

@joebartels I would say if you read the wilderness act in full, barring people would 100% contradict the original intention of wilderness areas (areas preserved for the use and enjoyment of Americans section 2) Therefore, I am not really sure how eliminating people from them would mean they are "working." I would say if you elminated people they would actually be no longer working as section two clearly states they were areas set aside for the enjoyment of Americans. Other reasons include protection from development, preserving unimpaired areas for future generations, protecting watersheds and other valuable resources...But no where in the entire wilderness act is the barring of people ever mentioned as being the key to these areas' success. They only mention limiting forms of transportation and recreational activities within these areas...But to say keeping people out is the only way they work seems misguided, as it states clearly they were areas were set aside for people...I would say people using wilderness areas in low impact manners and keeping with traditional modes of travel would mean the areas are working IMO...Elimintating people would mean they are not working properly..

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