MICHIGAN MOUNTAIN BIKING ASSOCIATION ACTION ALERT
Equestrians have declared war on mountain bikers in Michigan and are working to crush access to the trails you’ve loved to ride for decades!
Currently, a new amendment to the 2010 Equestrian Right to Ride (R2R) legislation is being pursued. It is a vaguely written update to current law that would extend equestrian access to Michigan (DNR) trails at the expense of mountain bike access.
How is the proposed amendment to the Right to Ride legislation (R2R) a danger to mountain bikers across the state? Well, the current R2R legislation already gives equestrians special legislative access above other trail user groups via a special state Equine Trails Subcommittee (ETS). The proposed amendment as drafted would elevate this legislative access. The R2R legislation places the burden of proof on the DNR to deny equestrian access to existing trails on DNR lands. In other words, the legislation makes it difficult for the DNR to deny equestrian access to any existing nonmotorized trail. The redraft of this legislation amends R2R with language banning bicycles from multi-use trails which are open to equestrians, by law.
In other words, it creates a scenario and mechanism where equestrians can claim an historical right to ride on a trail, force the DNR to give them access and then force the DNR to close the trail to cyclists. Multi-use trails are common in some parts of Michigan, especially in our State Forests, but they could be banned for bicycle use via this legislation in an “end-around” from DNR oversight. Access to trails at many DNR Park and Recreation Areas, as well as Michigan’s great linear trails and greenways could also be effectively closed to cyclist use if this proposed legislation is enacted. Since the legislation shifts the power of deciding what constitutes an “equestrian” trail more away from the DNR and to the ETS (equestrians), whatever non-motorized trails the equestrians see fit to ride on would now be closed to cyclists.
This proposed amendment appears to have been given new life as Oakland County State Senator Jim Runestad is considering sponsoring it with introduction of an amending bill targeted for the September 2022 State Legislative Session.
What to do:
Contact your local State Legislator and State Senator and tell them that the Right to Ride legislation passed in 2010 has always been bad, and the proposed amendment to it is about to make it worse. R2R and its proposed amendment, 1.) grants too much influence for the equestrians at the expense of other user groups, 2.) weakens DNR stewardship of trails and 3.) presents a danger to cyclist access to nonmotorized trails across the state of Michigan.
If you live in the 15th District (Sen. Runestad), we particularly want you to email and call to let him know what you think about the proposed R2R amendment.
By Phone: (517) 373-1758 By Fax: (517) 373-0938
By Email: SenJRunestad@senate.michigan.gov
Please include name, address, and phone number.
Here is a nice template (or script) that you can use):
Dear Senator (or Representative) _________________.
I, ____________________ am an avid mountain biker, and I am calling (or writing) to voice my concern over the proposed amendment to the Right To Ride legislation that is being considered by certain Legislators and state Senators. The proposed amendment grants too much influence to a special interest group (the equestrians) at the expense of other trail users. This legislation weakens the DNR’s ability to exercise responsible stewardship over state trails. The proposed amendment would shut access to biking on existing multi-use trails and possibly deny future access. In whole the amendment would provide a mechanism for a particular user group (the equestrians) through the Equine Trails Subcommittee (ETS) to deny access on Michigan trails to other groups such as mountain biking. The amendment is written so vaguely that it can be applied to popular local DNR trails throughout Michigan. Please do not consider this proposed amendment: The DNR can manage trail access without the help of the ETS, and bicyclists should not be unilaterally denied access to Michigan’s grand nonmotorized trails at the whim of one user group.