Thanks for focusing on this issue. I didn't mean to exclude this important point while I was responding more narrowly to a previous post. In fact, it's my view that most people who go to the trouble to inform themselves about the bicycle issue fairly quickly recognize - or knew already - that the safety and environmental issues are mostly red herrings. I think that's one reason that there is often so much fixation on the intent or the letter of the Wilderness Act and it's subsequent implementation over the years.texasbb wrote:All that to say: the issue of others' ability to experience "wilderness" is at least as important as the safety and environmental questions.
But as you seem to suggest, the ultimate issue is a subjective one that revolves around individual expectations. As you say, the "wilderness experience" is at least as important - in a political sense - as safety and environment, but it's safe to say that if there were any evidence of significant safety or environmental problems associated with bicycles, that would probably stop the discussion in its tracks and we'd never need to bother to talk about anyone's desired "experience" vis a vis bicycles.
But that leaves us in a subjective pickle. Someone's Wilderness experience is ruined by the sight, or even the mere thought, of my bicycle. My experience is ruined (just for the sake of argument) by someone else's stockpile of allowed technology or behavior ranging from GPS to luxury pack train travel. In reality, I'm willing to put up with life's rich pageant of personal backcountry preferences just as long as nobody's numbers are too great and their impact on the land or ecology is fleeting or insignificant. As a sometimes cyclist, I'm asking for similar treatment. Instead, I have a 100% exclusion. Bicycles or not, none of us get to have our own private Wilderness, at least not on the public land. 110 million acres is quite large and highly varied. It's my belief that we could accommodate bicycles on at least some parts of it and still preserve enough personal Wilderness preference for everyone in a more or less balanced fashion.