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Revised Bicycle Plan Allows Greater Access to National Parks

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More bicycles on trails in National Parks?
July 08, 2012 12:46PM
July 6, 2012, 4:29 pm
Making Way for More Bikes in National Parks

... This year Congress intervened to permit stock packing on national parklands in the Sierra after a court ruled in a lawsuit filed by the High Sierra Hikers that the current system for permitting stock violated the Wilderness Act.

Now bicycles are becoming part of the whose-trail-is-it debate. On Friday, the National Park Service published a final regulation in the Federal Register giving individual park superintendents the power to allow bicycles on existing or new roads and pathways.

The service’s stated aim is to promote a healthy way to explore park areas where motor vehicles are not allowed. As the rule in the Federal Register noted, bicyclists already use “trails, fire roads, abandoned railroad right-of-ways and canal towpaths.”

The Park Service said the new rule would expand bicycle access “while preserving the service’s responsibility to prohibit bikes in wilderness and other areas where they would have significant impact on the environment or visitor safety.”

The practical impact of the rule is to streamline the process of opening roads and trails to bicycles and to localize the decision-making, which had previously been handled by national officials and posed significant administrative hurdles to those seeking a change.

avatar Revised Bicycle Plan Allows Greater Access to National Parks
July 08, 2012 07:03PM
Washington, DC – The National Park Service (NPS) announced today it will expand bicycle access in parks nationwide while preserving the Service’s responsibility to prohibit bikes in wilderness and other areas where they would have significant impact on the environment or visitor safety.

“Bikes are a great way to exercise, get healthy, and experience the great outdoors,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “This new rule gives park superintendents greater flexibility to determine where bikes can be allowed in a park and additional authority to shut areas where cycling is jeopardizing visitors or park resources.”

The rule, available online at: http://www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx#reg_N, gives park superintendents the authority to allow bicycles on roads that are closed to the motoring public – like fire roads and roads used by park maintenance vehicles. Bikes are already allowed on park roads that are open to vehicles.

This rule moves National Park Service decision making about where bike use is appropriate from a regulatory to a planning process, while retaining rigorous environmental compliance requirements and mandatory public comment on proposals to open existing or new trails to bikes.

New trails outside of developed areas will continue to require a park-specific special regulation approved by the director of the National Park Service.

The National Park Service will continue to prohibit bicycle use in eligible, study, proposed, recommended, and designated wilderness areas.

The final rule, 36 CFR § 4.30, will be published in the Federal Register on July 6 and will go into effect 30 days later.
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