Bikers are not entitled to unchecked access

  Dear HCN,
I appreciated the debate offered on both sides of the mountain bike issue (HCN, 3/3/03: The Wild Card). I have owned or managed outdoor-related retail businesses most of my life in all the beautiful parts of the country. One of my sons still makes his living running a bike shop. Since our livelihood had depended on selling the grown-up toys and gear used to enjoy the outdoors, we felt that also put squarely on our shoulders the task of advocating for the wilderness’ continued existence. Wilderness was never something we felt the right to merely consume, but to preserve and pass on.

Our intention, beyond thrills and spills, was always to be as observant of and minimally disruptive to the plant and animal life we encountered. We did not want our actions to distract others from enjoyment.

We noticed our bikes’ knobby tires tore up the ground and required more elbow room with regard to passing aspen, boulders or each other. You also have to factor in the effects of gravity and speed and bumps on the trail. Even on multi-use trails, shared by bikes, horses and those on foot, the bikes were the most difficult to easily accommodate with comfort for all others. I feel that sufficient designated bike trails now exist throughout America for riders not to feel excluded from nature.

For a group of bikers to say they will be more supportive if they get a bigger piece of the pie seems coercive. Our society is ever encroaching on wilderness, with more species threatened and in decline. Any sense of entitlement to continue to do so unchecked is faulty reasoning.

In our consumer society, we might be wise to remember: Less is more. Less intrusion to designated wilderness areas is more left available to be enjoyed by our children and our children’s children.

Mara Owens
Spokane, Washington
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