The House Committee on Natural Resources has scheduled a hearing on H.R. 1349, the bill that seeks to overturn the blanket ban on mountain bikes in federally designated Wilderness this Thursday, December 7th. Full information on H.R. 1349 can be found here.
Thanks to the Sustainable Trails Coalition and active, grassroots mountain bikers who seek some level of equitable access to our public lands, we are now on the Congressional agenda. But now that the hearing itinerary is public, anti-bike lobbies are mobilizing to deluge their representatives with letters and messages in opposition to the proposed legislation. We, as fellow lovers of the outdoors, need to do the same.
Anti-bike forces have a set of talking points for continuing the blind blanket ban on bikes in Wilderness, each of which is easily defeated. For instance, they rally their base by claiming that this is part of a larger move to weaken protection of public lands. However, the fact is backcountry cyclists are conservationists, just like hikers and equestrians. Allowing cyclists to actually enjoy their equally low impact, human powered form of transport in the backcountry can only strengthen support for preservation of our wild places. For more on the usual arguments and their counters, read here:
If the bill moves beyond this committee, we will need a strong grassroots movement to let our elected officials know it’s time to put an end to the blind bike ban that has no basis in science, fairness, or morality. You can be especially helpful at this time if your Congressperson sits on the House Committee on Natural Resources. You can find the list of committee members here. And you can find how to write to Congress here.