Mountain bicyclists are second-class citizens on our nation's public lands.

Harsh words. Evidence:

  • Bicycles have been banned on somewhere between 125 and 200 million acres of public lands.
  • The more protected the area, the more likely it is that bikes will be banned.
  • Legal justifications for the nationwide ban on bikes in Wilderness speak not of the real problem -- user conflict -- but from the idea that bikes are not "appropriate" in Wilderness.
  • Land managers throughout America have imposed restrictions on bicycle travel not supported by scientific evidence.
  • On almost all public lands, hikers can travel anywhere while bicyclists are restricted to trails. Bicyclists prefer trails and don't mind that restriction, but science says the impacts of our treading cross-country are roughly equal.

What are you going to do about it?

We need much more, and much more sophisticated advocacy for mountain bicycling. IMBA has helped create this, but not enough to meet the challenge. Our mission is not over until bicycling is recognized as a full-fledged, equal partner on the public lands.


For mountain bikers, we recommend numerous course of action, but three in particular stand out.

  1. We need to speak the truth to the world about the science of recreation impacts. Science generally shows that the natural resource impact differences between bicycling and hiking are not significant. Study the science and speak it much in public meetings and public media. Join and build your local mountain bike organization.
  2. We need to behave better on the trail, because user conflict is real and we cause it too much. Science has demonstrated this, too.
  3. We need to join the land protection movement whole-heartedly, no matter how much they dislike us, no matter how unfair the situation is. Do you want these lands we ride in to be trashed through development, or would you rather ride in natural, pristine lands, with abundant wildlife, healthy, native vegetation, far from roads?