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IMBA Urges Broad Public Support for Bike Access on Proposed Segment of Continental Divide Trail

For Immediate Release 12-11-12
Contact Mark Eller
IMBA Communications Director
303-545-9011 ext. 115

The Dec. 17 deadline to file comments about a proposed new segment of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) in southern Colorado is less than a week away. IMBA’s official comments submitted to the USDA Forest Service state that the proposed 32-mile reroute should be accessible to mountain bikers, despite the Forest Service’s suggestion that bikes should be directed onto existing roads without access to new singletrack.

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“Whether you live in Colorado or any part of the United States, I urge anyone who relishes the idea of riding a mountain bike in a remote, beautiful setting to let the Forest Service know that bikes belong on singletrack, including this proposed new CDT segment,” said Mike Van Abel, IMBA’s executive director. “Frankly, the justifications that are being used to route us onto dirt roads are based on outdated ideas.”

The Forest Service’s environmental assessment of the proposed trail speculates that bike travel would negatively effect the trail tread and degrade the social experience for other trail users. “Those arguments fail to make the case for restricting bikes to roads,” said Van Abel. “The best available research makes it clear that bikes have similar impacts as hikers, and often less than equestrians. As for social impacts, where’s the evidence that bicyclists, hikers and equestrians can’t share? The CDT already boasts many success stories where bicycling is an accepted use on segments of the trail."

Read more about the environmental and social impacts related to shared-use trails.

According to Dave Wiens, a bike advocate and member of the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association and Gunnison Trails, there’s a lot at stake, despite the remoteness of the Cochetopa Hills area of the Rio Grande National Forest. “I’ve been lucky enough to ride this part of the CDT and I can tell you that the prospect of bike access to more than 30 miles of newly built singletrack would be attractive to riders across the region. It would be a boon for local businesses and a tremendous recreational asset.”

“Moreover,” adds Wiens, “the Forest Service should recognize that including mountain biking in their planning adds tremendous value. Groups like CBMBA and Gunnison Trails volunteer hundreds of service hours annually on public lands. Mountain bikers represent a thriving demographic with the potential for strong partnerships. I believe excluding us from new singletrack would be a mistake.”