Mostly quoted from our friends at the WMMBA:
RIGHT TO RIDE LEGISLATION (R2R) AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR MOUNTAIN BIKERS
Senate Bill 1191
How is 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 senate bill 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 non-motorized 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.
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 Senate Bill 1191 to it is about to make it worse.
R2R/Senate Bill 1191,
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 ALL non motorized trails across the state of Michigan.
Find your Michigan State Representative: https://www.house.mi.gov/
Find your Michigan State Senator: https://www.senate.michigan.gov/fysbyaddress.html
Please include name, address, and phone number. We recommend having each member of your family send a letter or sign as an entire family (even the kids sign the page).
Below is a nice template (or script) that you can use. Feel free to edit to your own feelings:
Dear <STATE SENATOR>,
I am writing to ask you to oppose proposed amendments to the Equestrian Right to Ride Act of 2010. The amendment is being developed by Senator Jim Runstad, and despite assurances to the contrary, creates potential legal issues for mountain bikers wishing to continue to use trails we have used for the last twenty years.
I am a supporter of the Top of Michigan Mountain Bike Association, a non-profit organization based in Boyne City, MI that advocates for trail stewardship, common land access, and natural resource protection across Northern Lower Michigan. Members of our group represent all levels of riders, from complete novices to world champions and we share a passion for riding natural surface trails.
The R2R amendment as currently described grants far too much influence to one special interest group (equestrians) at the expense of all other trail users. The creation of the Equine Trails Subcommittee grants undue influence to that single user group, while also stripping the MDNR of its authority to decide how to manage trails.
Challenges to the expanding mountain biking community, and especially supporters of TOMMBA, include the loss of access to trails on public lands that we have used for decades alongside multiple user groups. Furthermore, in cases where equine trails exist alongside other trails the law creates uncertainty and puts burdensome requirements on the MDNR if they wish to restrict equine access. The amendment proposes no such burdens for banning other user groups, again granting equine users favored access to public lands.
Please oppose the amendment to the R2R Act, and preserve the MDNR’s authority to manage our public lands without new restrictions that favor single user groups.