Impact on Road Bikes and Private Cars

bikesAs the National Park Services becomes increasingly hostile toward private vehicles–both motorized and muscle-powered–the potential impact of national park status on road bikes, private cars, and other forms of transportation in and near the CNM must be carefully examined. The Colorado National Monument is relatively small in comparison to other national monuments, parks, and recreation areas, and can be traversed by car in less than an hour. A significant increase in foot and motorized traffic would negatively impact its unique environment, very narrow roadways, plant life and wildlife.

  • The roads are narrow and subject to erosion and damage due to seasonal temperature fluctuations and rockslides.
  • Many stretches of road in the CNM do not have guard rails, and increased traffic greatly heightens the potential for accidents. This puts road cyclists in a high level of danger should they find themselves crowded by large tour busses or heavy car traffic.
  • The current National Park Service (NPS) administrator has banned  road bike races inside the CNM, and increased motor traffic in the form of large tour busses could lead to a complete ban on bicycle traffic on its paved roads.
  • An increase in traffic could lead to a ban on personal cars inside the park, limiting motorized traffic to shuttle busses, as currently exists in Zion National Park—which is much larger than the CNM.
  • In 2000 the NPS banned snow mobiles in all areas, even those which are largely inaccessible due to deep snow conditions in the winter, such as Yellowstone NP.

According to minutes from the Colorado National Monument Advisory Group meeting of January 18, 2012:

  • “the current road system is beyond maxed out”
  • “there is an increasing demand for law enforcement on the property”
  • “A growing proportion of the law enforcement needs occur at night”
  • “Suicide attempts also require law enforcement attention”

Many National Parks have banned or are planning to ban various kinds of recreational transportation including road bikes, off-road bikes, horseback riding, rafting, snow machines, and off-road motorized vehicles.

  • Officials in Yosemite NP, under pressure from environmental groups, recently attempted to ban bikes, rafting, horseback rides, etc.,  but reversed the decision after an outpouring of public opposition to the bans.
  • In January 2014, officials in Death Valley NP put a freeze on issuing permits for bike races and charity bike rides.
  • Senate Bill  1813, if passed into law, will ban bicycles from roads in many national parks, and other roads in federal lands.
  • In October 2013, Torrey Pines State Park in California banned all bikes and foot traffic from its paved roads.
  • Bicyclists fought a ban on off and on-road bikes at Saguaro NP.
  • The NPS is schizophrenic when it comes to what types of bike events it bans, such as a professional race banned recently in the CNM or a “recreational ride” which was allowed on Mt Rainer, which drew larger crowds and had a greater impact.
  • The NPS has been at war with bicyclists, implementing and then reversing various bans.
  • Off-road and mountain bikes are banned within the boundaries of numerous national parks and recreation areas.

With a growing hostility toward road bikes and mountain bikes in national parks and recreation areas, it is likely that those bicyclists who currently enjoy touring the CNM with relatively few restrictions and minimal road hazards, may see a dramatic change in those conditions if national park status should be realized.