Group Petitions Allegheny National Forest to Ban Bikes on Non-Motorized Trails
Monday, November 22, 2021
WARREN, Pa. -- A Western Pennsylvania conservation group is petitioning the Allegheny National Forest to prohibit bike riding on all non-motorized trails across its more than 500,000 acres of land due to safety concerns.
The Friends of Allegheny Wilderness are calling on the U.S. Forest Service to formally amend its 2007 Land and Resource Management Plan for the Allegheny National Forest because they say the advent of potentially fast-moving electric bikes, which can be indistinguishable from regular mountain bikes, poses a physical danger to hikers.
Kirk Johnson, executive director of the Friends of Allegheny Wilderness, said the group's request can help ensure a positive hiking experience.
"E-bikes can travel greater distances in less amount of time at high rates of speed, so they're a real threat to not only just regular hikers but also especially to younger hikers or elderly hikers," Johnson explained.
E-bikes are not permitted on non-motorized trails. A spokesperson for the Allegheny National Forest said in a statement they are reviewing the petition and the forest is committed to "balancing the needs of user groups while sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the forest."
Johnson said the ban would not apply to the Jakes Rocks mountain biking trail in Allegheny National Forest. The Friends group is asking for a ban on pedestrian access to the trail out of an abundance of caution. Johnson added it is important to keep all visitors to the national forest out of harm's way.
"I think what they have to do when it comes to trails is get away from the multiple-use concept," Johnson urged. "We need dedicated hiking trails with no e-bikes, no mountain bikes, and then there should also be dedicated mountain-bike trails. "
Mountain-bike riders would still be able to utilize other motorized trails in the forest, including Rocky Gap, Willow Creek, Marienville, Timberline and Penoke. Under the petition, mountain bike riders would have nearly 144 miles of trail to use, a reduction of about 45 miles.
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