Midnight Rule-Change Opens National Parks to Mountain Bikes

bush on mountain bike photo

Bush on Bike in Beijing, Reuters via China Daily

George Bush loves his mountain bike, so it should be no surprise that one of the midnight rule changes being proposed by the Interior department is to make it easier for park administrators to open up trails. According to the New York Times, hikers are outraged.

"Seventy-five million Americans hike, and they want solitude and a slow-paced connection with nature," said Gregory Miller, the president of the American Hiking Society, an umbrella group of 275 local organizations. "We see this as potentially undermining and diminishing that experience."

Cyclists are pleased.

"We think mountain biking could bring new and younger visitors to the parks who are not now finding the recreational opportunities that they are seeking," said Mark Eller, a spokesman for the International Mountain Bicycling Association, a group based in Boulder, Colo., that has been pushing for a park expansion of mountain biking for years.

The Times describes the problem:

The proposal raised tensions between hikers and bikers, who face off against one another on dirt byways all over the country. Each group is burdened with a stereotype that is part true and part myth: thrill-seeking gear heads on one side, plodding leaf peepers on the other, each group accusing the other of not fully appreciating the great out-of-doors.

TreeHugger is conflicted. We have noted that people are not using National Parks as much as they used to, and we love bikes. But we also love quiet trails and natural, undisturbed settings. The National Parks Conservation Association suggests that the problem isn't the bikes, but the process.

"There's no good reason for this," said the spokesman, Tony Jewett, the group's senior director for the Northern Rockies region. Mr. Jewett said that bikes could have a place in the parks — 25 parks already allow some mountain biking — but that thorough review should be the watchword.

"It would make it easier to have mountain biking in the national parks with less public scrutiny," he said. "Our position is that these types of changes should be in public sunlight."

More on Park Usage
Go Play Outside; Nobody Else is
::Get Outside and Play
Reconnecting Children and Nature

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