In the State of Wyoming, a Bill to require mountain bikers to purchase a licence before accessing trails has been proposed. Sponsored by 12 State Representatives, including Charles Pelkey, the former Velonews Editor, the Bill seeks to levy a $100 on anyone failing to comply.
At this stage it’s little more than an idea, with political scrutiny yet to take place, however there is a fully drafted Bill available to read.
The provisions of the Bill are that, as is the case for hunters and anglers, mountain bikers will need to be a licence to be able to legally use the trails. Buying a licence – the fee in the draft Bill is $15 per year – will give you real or digital decals to demonstrate that you have paid and are entitled to use the trails. It’s a single fee per rider, not per bike.
From this $15 fee, it’s proposed that $2 will go into an account that will be used to contribute towards ‘maintaining and improving trails or roads including Wyoming off-road recreational vehicle trails used for mountain biking on public lands’. The remaining $13 is to go into an account used to fund the design and production of the decals with ‘any funds exceeding the amount necessary for the design and production of mountain biking decals’ to be used ‘for management of populations of species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.’
Charles Pelkey has cosponsored the Bill, but appears to have some concerns about whether he’s made the right choice. Judging by some of the other bills he has sponsored, Pelkey’s attitudes seem to be pretty liberal, and his reasoning for supporting this seems to be based on the idea that a small fee to have a voice is worth paying. He posted on his Facebook page:
Views seem to be fairly evenly split. Some think that it’s a good thing, and that paying for access will indeed give riders a greater say in how public land and trails are managed. Others see it as regulation of something which for them represents freedom, or a way to line the coffers of the local Fish & Game department.
What do you think? If you don’t pay for access to land, do you have a right to have a say in how it is managed? Is it the thin end of the wedge, or a genuine way to support the landscape that gives us so much fun?