|In 2005, only two properties in the entire state park system in North Carolina allowed singletrack bike trails. Today, a framework exists for mountain bike clubs, such as SORBA chapters, to create mountain bike trails on state-owned lands, due to the legislature passing S.L. 2007-449. The law states “Any land held in fee simple by this State, any agency of this State, or any land purchased or leased with funds provided by this State may be open and available for use by bicyclists upon establishment of a usage agreement. The usage agreement shall be established between the land manager and any local cycling group or organization intending to use the land and shall specify the terms and conditions for use of the land. The land manager shall designate a representative with knowledge of off‑road bicycle trail building to negotiate the agreement. Upon establishment of the usage agreement, any bicyclist may use the land pursuant to the agreement. “ The law doesn’t guarantee mountain bike trails, but if a club presents a proposal to build such, the land manager must present a valid reason for denying that the trails be built on the land.|
|Here is a little background on how this bill got started. In 2005, several Triangle Off-Road Cyclists (TORC) members attended a meeting at the legislature building to discuss local mountain biking access issues. Following this meeting Stewart Bryan, current TORC president, and Bill Camp, former TORC president, were asked to participate in a forum later in 2005 in the eastern part of the state that was studying the idea of using recreational biking to stimulate a sluggish economy and enhance industry attraction to the eastern part of the state. Senator Clark Jenkins was present at this forum, and he was not happy to hear the sad state of bike access to state owned lands.
Senator Jenkins went away vowing to look into the matter, and the next time TORC members heard about this issue was when Jenkins introduced Senate Bill 1383. TORC members Doug Howey and Dickie Westbrook, who are lobbyists for professional and trade organizations, acted as TORC’s eyes in the legislature and worked as their liaison to make recommendations for the bill. Brian Williford, the North Carolina IMBA representative, had discussions with Scott Linnenberger at IMBA, and their policy folks made some suggestions that were incorporated into the bill. Stewart Bryan spoke with Lieutenant Governor Bev Perdue about the bill and the glaring lack of biking opportunities in the state. In response, she wrote a letter of support to Senator Jenkins. The initial strong resistance from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Sierra Club went away, and a workable version of the bill was ratified July 31, 2007.
Senate Bill 1383 became S.L. 2007-449 on August 23rd, 2007! To view the progress of the bill and to read the law, go to www.ncga.state.nc.us and search on SB 1383 or SL 2007-449.
Now, how do we get our other Southern states to pass similar laws?