Mountain biking has been identified as one of the fastest growing outdoor recreation activities among youth (Outdoor Foundation, 2009). IMBA's trail development work in urban areas, including the Gateway Trails program, helps meet that demand. These trail systems also contribute to reducing the risk of obesity and inactivity facing today's families.
Take Action! Ask your Congressional Representative to sign on to the Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act (H.R. 3734). View a current list of co-sponsors and read the text of the bill (click here and search for bill number HR 3734).
The Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act, HR 3734, introduced by Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ) and 22 co-sponsors, would authorize $445 million to be appropriated annually for FY 2011–FY 2021. Funding would be provided through matching federal assistance grants and could be used by parks and recreation agencies to rehabilitate existing, and develop new, urban parks and community recreational infrastructure as well as for the continued investment in programs that improve public health, increase daily physical activity, reconnect children with nature, reduce crime, provide safe healthy alternatives for at-risk youth, encourage environmental stewardship and foster local economic development.
What’s at Stake
There has been no dedicated federal funding to support urban parks for over eight years when the last round of grants under the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Act were awarded in 2001. Since that time the need to rehabilitate deteriorating urban park infrastructure has grown exponentially. The Urban Revitalization and Livable Communities Act will once again provide the dedicated funding that our urban parks need to provide close-to-home, safe places for children to play in parks and recreation areas, and improve the health and overall quality of life for people of all ages across our nation’s urban areas.
What This Means to Mountain Bikers
Nearly 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in urban areas (U.S. Geological Survey, 2006), many of which are suffering from deteriorating community infrastructure, limited green spaces, poor health and chronic disease. Urban parks and recreation facilities play key roles in improving the health of our nation’s cities and urban communities by providing convenient access to the places, spaces and opportunities that lead to increased physical activity.
Mountain biking can be part of the solution. Gateway Trails can be built in small parks -- next to greenways, playgrounds and ball-fields -- to broaden the recreational offerings in suburban and urban communities. Gateway Trails provide a friendly introduction to mountain biking for novice riders. Newcomers build skills with each turn of the handlebars; as they traverse the natural world, they strengthen their muscles and build self-esteem. By incorporating family-style natural surface trails, bike skills areas and engaging signage, Gateway Trails can stimulate a new generation of bicyclists and outdoor enthusiasts.