Assessment of Our Long-term Progress
When we started STC in 2015, two lobbyists for the bicycle industry assured us we wouldn’t get anywhere and we were wasting our time.
That assessment didn’t surprise us, since no one else had ever tried before, including those jaded critics, who didn’t try even when we had a mountain biking president in George W. Bush. Those members of Congress who had heard of Wilderness at all probably didn’t know bicycling is excluded. Same for the Pacific Crest Trail.
In 2015, frustrated mountain bikers facing trail losses were doing desperate things like writing online petitions, which get no traction on Capitol Hill.
Since then, we (meaning you and STC) have:
Still, we wish to be candid. Our professional trail access lobbyist—the only paid lobbyist who has ever tried to get the Wilderness and Pacific Crest Trail bicycle bans overturned—tells us the current main problem is the politically toxic climate in Congress. Lawmakers are angry with one another, whether it’s over health care, Supreme Court appointments, foreign relations, travel restrictions, ethics—you name it. We, like many other good causes, are swept up in a tide of partisan ill will.
- Lit a fire on Capitol Hill. Whether a U.S. Senator or member of Congress is for or against us, almost everyone knows about the bicycle bans. It has become part of the national agenda.
- Received huge amounts of press coverage. Two years ago even most regular backcountry visitors probably didn’t know about the bicycle bans. Stories and op-eds in many newspapers and magazines, from The New York Times and Washington Post to Outside, National Geographic, and Men’s Journal, as well as various regional newspapers in the West, have alerted the whole country to these unfair bans.
- Probably made it much more difficult for another Boulder–White Clouds loss to happen. Hundreds of you have written your senators and member of Congress. Reporters are asking questions. Congressional staffs read newspapers containing articles about the bicycle bans. Boulder–White Clouds got through because Wilderness bicycle bans were sufficiently uncontroversial and invisible that power brokers could ignore mountain bikers. No longer is that so true.
Let’s put it this way: If Congress could vote by secret ballot on these bills (which isn’t allowed) or by voice vote (which is), they’d pass overwhelmingly. But votes on the legislation will likely be formally recorded and not be done by voice, so it’s politics that govern, not reason.
For example, the staff of one liberal western Democrat recently let our lobbyist know they understand and like what we’re doing. But their boss may still feel unable to go on the record in support of access reform. We won’t understate the difficulties.
Finally, and as always, we thank you for your generous financial support. If you’d like to help us keep pushing, please consider donating again , or buy a shirt, and ask three friends to do the same. We’re fund-raising among prospective major donors, so please don’t feel we’re asking you, our loyal crowd-funders, to bear the whole burden.