Hug a mountain biker

  By any measure, the outdoor education and indoctrination of mountain bikers has been a story of unparalleled success. In less than 20 years, mountain-bike advocacy groups like the International Mountain Bicycling Association have accomplished what other traditional user groups have had centuries, if not millennia, to address. And as the article in your Sept. 18 issue points out, mountain bikers have often accomplished this with little support or acknowledgement — if not outright opposition — from other elements of the outdoor community. All trail users could stand some behavioral improvements and we’re better off pursuing that together than apart.

Had cyclists been welcomed to the public lands, just imagine how much further along we all might be toward preserving and protecting the dwindling wild places we all love. I can’t fault traditional trail users for their early suspicions or their initial dismissal of mountain biking as a passing fad, but today I am astounded and dismayed by the failure of some trail users and some conservation organizations to recognize that mountain bikers represent the greatest injection of outdoor enthusiasm and voting power that the conservation constituency has seen since John Muir invited the masses to outdoor worship. The bicycle is, rightly so, the darling of environmentalists worldwide. Treating it otherwise can only hamper conservation efforts.

Daniel Greenstadt
San Diego, California