BigBear wrote:Fact check: the reason bikes were not specifically mentioned in the 1964 bill is the same reason drones aren't mentioned in the 1984 bill. The mountain biking sport got started in the mid-80s and has only taken off recently. There were no mountain bike sin 1964 and thus no mention beyond "wheeled" devices. Drones are now being limited and I suspect they will be include din the next wilderness act update.
Your comparison to a drone is ludicrous: bicycles were invented in the 19th century, and were, in 1964, quite commonly used on gravel and dirt roads and tracks all across this country. My grandmother used to ride down the dirt road behind her dairy farm in eastern Tennessee as fast as she could. You don't think members of Congress had ever seen a bicycle? You think that the technology of a drone is comparable to that of a bicycle???
The exact language from the original regulation defines the meaning of "mechanical transport":
(a) Mechanical transport, as herein used, shall include any contrivance which travels over ground, snow, or water on wheels, tracks, skids, or by floatation and is propelled by a nonliving power source
contained or carried on or within the device.
(36 CFR 293.6(a))
The obvious intent of the law was to ban motorized vehicles, and only in its 1984 re-interpretation of that law did the Forest Service disagree. The law still stands as originally written, and needs no alteration; the Forest Service merely needs to read it again.
Though people have been riding bikes in subsequently designated Wilderness areas since both before and for twenty years after the law, you are correct that mountain biking's popularity is relatively recent. Does that not signal the time for a reconsideration of the current blanket, undifferentiated ban on the activity?
Some trails are perfect for cyclists, others are not. Right now, the Forest Service won't allow its land managers to manage the two any differently. I think that's a shame: it's clearly not the intent of the law, nor does it reflect the history of the law's enforcement in its first 20 years.