The bill that could allow mountain bikes in Wilderness areas has passed the House Natural Resources Committee and now moves to the House floor.
H.R. 1349 did not pass the committee without changes. The wording in the original bill, introduced in early March, is as follows:
“Section 4(c) of the Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 1133(c)) is amended by adding at the end the following: "Nothing in this section shall prohibit the use of motorized wheelchairs, non-motorized wheelchairs, non-motorized bicycles, strollers, wheelbarrows, survey wheels, measuring wheels, or game carts within any wilderness area.”
While in the Natural Resources Committee, the bill was amended to now read:
“Section 4 of the Wilderness Act (16 U.S.C. 1133(c)) is amended by adding at the end of subsection (d) the following: "(8) Allowable uses. Each agency administering any area designated as wilderness may allow the use of motorized wheelchairs, non-motorized wheelchairs, non-motorized adaptive cycles, non-motorized bicycles, non-motorized strollers, non-motorized wheelbarrows, non-motorized survey wheels, non-motorized measuring wheels, or non-motorized game carts within any wilderness area. For the purposes of this paragraph, the term 'wheelchair' means a device designed solely for use by a mobility-impaired person for locomotion, that is suitable for use in an indoor pedestrian area.”
There are some important changes here. The biggest being that federal land managers may allow the use of mountain bikes and other wheeled devices in Wilderness, but are not required to. The change also adds adaptive cycles to the list of acceptable devices and specifies that all devices must be non-motorized, with the exception of motorized wheelchairs.
The bill was adopted by a vote of 22 to 18 and now goes to the House floor. From there it will have to pass the House, Senate and then be signed into law by the president, and is likely to be further amended along the way. Check back for more updates on what is happening with H.R. 1349.