Cyclists in National Parks around the country may soon have more trail riding opportunities. A rule change by the National Park Service will allow individual parks to decide whether to open certain areas to bike traffic.
The National Park Service describes the rule change as a move from a regulatory to a planning process. That means decisions for new bike trails will be left up to park administrators. Paul Henderson, assistant superintendent of Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, says the parks will still have to comply with environmental regulations and allow for public comment before any new trails are opened.
“Everything still has to go through the same level of environmental scrutiny before we open or close an area to bicycle use. But it just makes the process a little more user friendly at the park level,” he says.
Henderson said the rule change will have little impact on parks like Arches that already have lots of bike access. Jeff Ruch, Executive Director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) in Washington, says the rule change could hinder how others enjoy the National Park trails.
“Mountain biking becomes a preclusive type of recreation that makes it difficult for people to be on the trail with them,” he says.
The rule doesn’t take effect until August.