A new national advocacy group’s effort to undo the blanket ban on bicycles in federally designated wilderness areas has received a chilly reception in the Roaring Fork Valley.
An organization called the Sustainable Trails Coalition is raising funds to hire a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., and start the long, arduous process of trying to alter the Wilderness Act of 1964. It will require an act of Congress.
The coalition notes that cycling was allowed in all wildernesses prior to 1977 — before mountain biking soared in popularity in the mid-1980s. All public-land management agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service, banned bikes in 1984, interpreting that the intent of the Wilderness Act 20 years earlier was to prohibit all mechanized uses and provide access via foot power only.
The Sustainable Trails Coalition contends the original intent was misinterpreted and that bicycles shouldn’t be prohibited from trails in wilderness.