I agree with the point that litterbug brought up from the US Attorney's argument.
There are restrictions on many federal lands regarding dirt bike trails vs quad trails, hike trails, horse trails, mt bike trails. If you want to ride those trails, you use that particular equipment.
IMHO the discrimination argument doesn't wash. If you want to ride Alta, you need to do it on a pair of skis. If you want to ride a mountain bike trail, you need to leave your dirt bike in the garage and get on the pedal bike.
The problem with that argument is that trail use restriction is designed to protect the trail/land, not the user. For example, protecting wetlands from ATV damage. I off-road (SUV, not ATV) as a way to get deep in the back country with my family, and there are organizations that exist purely to ensure open land use and to fight closures for motorized use as well as organizations that exist to restrict use (perhaps primarily based on protecting publics lands from development, resource extraction, etc.).
The questions of "Land of Many Uses", equal access (motorized access for differently abled people), protection of wilderness resources from damage, etc. are not as simple as "use the equipment we allow". There are reasons to restrict equipment usage on public lands, but I would like to see a case where a restriction exists (other than ski resorts in general) to cater to a preferred equipment user where there are no environmental or other considerations in question.
There are many examples of these fights. Hikers don't like to hear motors. So don't hike on roads. Or close roads to motorized use to increase your enjoyment. Mountain bikers don't like equestrians - our MTB stoke thread turned into an anti-horse discourse for a bit, despite the obvious notion that horse property owners probably have the political clout to ensure trails are protected from development so that broke ass mountain bikers can complain about them.
I agree with litterbug that personal choice of equipment for the same sport certainly doesn't rise to the level of religion or gender or race (although both religion and gender can also be an adopted class by choice). Forgetting about the Constitution, I think the question of restricted public land use when the only consideration is protection of another user's enjoyment is not a small one. It goes right to the heart of user group belief in the moral superiority of their use as justification of the exclusion of others.
In rank order, public land use goes as follows:
- no access
- foot access
- equestrian/pack animal access
- non-motorized rider access
- two-wheeled rider motorized access
- four wheeled rider motorized access
In this hierarchy, there are cases of proponents of use (including total human restriction) who attempt to restrict all user classes below them - I would ague that this is the rule rather than the exception. Classes in the middle have a particularly compromised argument of "extend access to me, but not beyond me".
Skiers should bear in mind that a ski resort occupies this hierarchy in two positions: restricted foot access and non-motorized rider access. All other potential users of that land are excluded to the preferential use of skiers, at least while conditions enable that exclusion. We should note that it is very unusual for a user lower on the ladder to be able to restrict use higher on the ladder, but that is exactly what skiers have accomplished and there is more than a little "people who live in glass houses" in this inter-class fight.
I am wary of land use restrictions as I participate in land use on the lowest rung of the ladder and hear about use closures all the time (some of which I agree with). I think skiers take completely for granted that they are provided privileged access to public lands in a manner that restricts the use of others. When we further restrict users in our own class (non-motorized rider), it absolutely opens up challenges to a privileged status based purely on preference.
Challenges to public land access should be taken very seriously when the logical argument is something as mundane as having separate traverse paths for users moving at varying speeds. If the "I can restrict you because you are in my way" principle is OK, then by definition we can restrict hiking any place where mountain biking is allowed, can't we?
Edited by NayBreak - 8/12/14 at 8:11am