Englander Joins IMBA Board of Directors
Rock Wake Up Call
Helps Reforest Banks of Walden Pond
Buys and Protects Trail System
IMBA and VMBA meet with Vermont Wilderness Association about
England Trail Builders School
at Bluff Point Endangered
Expands into Harold Parker
NEMBA Education Booth
Bike Week Block Party
Boston NEMBA Back to Work at the Fells to Protect Wetlands
Central NH NEMBA at Work on Merrimack Trails
NEMBA Donates A Bike to Huntington State Park
Protection Agency Presents NEMBA with Award
Bike Summit: Gearing up for More Political Clout
Englander Joins IMBA Board of Directors (12/2003)
Krisztina Holly of Massachusetts and Woody Keen of North Carolina
were recently appointed board members of the International Mountain
Bicycling Association (IMBA). Both are experienced mountain
bike advocates. Krisztina is our very own NEMBA board member
and former prez. Woody owns a trail construction business, Trail
Dynamics, and had worked on mountain bike access issues for
more than a decade. Both attended their first board meeting
Nov. 7-8 at Giant Bicycles U.S. headquarters in Newbury Park,
"Krisztina has honed
her advocacy skills through years of excellent volunteer work
for NEMBA and IMBA," said IMBA executive director Tim Blumenthal.
"She brings outstanding leadership and business skills to our
board. She'll also help keep New England and Northeast access
issues on the national radar screen." Krisztina has joined the
Wilderness subcommittee and also plans to help define and strengthen
the relationship between IMBA and its affiliated clubs.
Rock Wake Up Call (12/2003)
Henderson Swasey Town Forest located in Exeter NH, better known
by local riders as Fort Rock, received a wake up call in October.
The Exeter Conservation Committee (ECC) held a public meeting
that was televised on local public TV, and one of the ECC members
mentioned some new areas where riders had created extreme trails
with dangerously steep drop offs. There were also areas that
had large trees across the trail and people were going around
them creating a new trail. Always a concern for land managers.
A local rider saw the program and contacted Seacoast NEMBA's
Ft. Rock trail ambassador, Mark Desrochers, who immediately
contacted the conservation committee and developed a plan to
resolve the issues. Mark has done an amazing job keeping the
park open to cyclists.
"The park came extremely
close in the past to being closed to mountain biking," says
Desrochers. "In fact many people don't realize how close it
has come. If we want to continue riding the best singletrack
in the seacoast we need to keep these things in mind. Our goal
is not to make the riding easy. We have to maintain the trails
for multi-use on the Fork Rock side of the network. We have
to work with the ECC because it's their yard....we just play
To this end, Mark,
Richard Cobb and many others have put in a lot of sweat equity
to keep these trails in good shape, and at the same time not
lose the technical challenge the park is known for. —Seacoast
Helps Reforest Banks of Walden Pond (12/2003)
Once again, DCR's Recreation guy, Gary Briere, calls up NEMBA
HQ, so we can't help but wonder where this conversation's going
to lead us. Gary seems to always catalyze something interesting.
Last time he called, we ended up putting on the New England
Trail Builders School for a slew of MA DEM staff. So —with some
trepidation— I hear him out. He says that the Walden Park staff
are scouting out a project to do during National Public Lands
day, and he wanted me to take a peek at the design to see if
it was doable and practical, especially since Governor Mitt
Romney is supposed to be there. I take the bait.
I met the hardworking
staff at Walden and they brought me to the proposed project
site—a fall line trail that descends the banks to the pond.
It's a horrendous trail created by visitors trying to take a
shortcut to the pond. It's gullied out about three feet deep
and is filled with the gravel and stone too heavy to wash into
the pristine waters of the pond. "Eco-disaster" was the word
that came to mind. The staff thought that it might be possible
to patch the trail and bring in some fill, but it was clear
to me that this trail would never be sustainable. I urged them
to shut down the trail and do a new re-route.
I designed a re-route
using as much of the trail as possible, but given how many trails
criss cross the area, we decided to redirect the trail and completely
revegetate it with plants and trees. The staff were concerned
with how extensive the project would be, so even though bikes
aren't allowed on the trails at Walden, I told them that I'd
be willing to help out with a crew of NEMBA volunteers. Yeah,
Gary wasn't even there, but somehow he had worked his magic.
Plus, working at Walden Pond seemed like a really good thing
for NEMBA to be doing.
A few meetings and
one postponed work day later, we arrived with our Trail Care
Trailer ready to work. The project supervisor, Peter Hofmann,
had expected over thirty volunteers from various groups, but
only few students from an alternative school in Chelmsford and
a mother/daughter team from the Bristol 4-H Club showed. The
postponed date meant that in Romney's place, Ellen Roy Hertzfelder,
the new Secretary of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs,
would be making an appearance.
Peter had done a huge
amount of prep work on the site, filling in the huge trench
with soil and installing a series of erosion-control dams. He
also collected over 200 pines, red and white oak, speckled alder,
clethora and some yellow birch. In short order, the NEMBA crew
had cut in a new section of trail and we went to work on planting
the trees with the students.. It was easy and rewarding work,
knowing that we were bringing back a bit of nature to Walden
These were the shores
that Thoreau traversed and from which he developed a message
that had never been heard before: that humans are only complete
when they are part of nature, and that nature must be conserved
and not consumed by society. Walden Pond represents the birthplace
of American environmentalism, and it's gratifying that our organization
can play a small role in protecting this important symbolic
The staff at Walden
were appreciative of our efforts and guidance as well. "We could
not have gotten this project done this day," commented Peter,
"if it weren't for the grassroots volunteerism. With the amount
of people who visit Walden Pond, it's hard to maintain the natural
integrity of the park, and we thank NEMBA for the help."
Buys and Protects Trail System, Vietnam(12/2003)
Cycling Organization Becomes the First in the Country to
Buy Land for Open Space Protection and Recreation
The New England Mountain
Bike Association has taken title to 47 acres of open space in
Milford, Massachusetts in an area known as the Upper Charles
River Headwaters. This campaign marks the first time that a
mountain bike advocacy organization will purchase, own, and
manage its own trail system, and the project marks the largest
single investment undertaken by mountain bikers to preserve
open space. NEMBA successfully raised the $210,000 needed to
purchase the popular riding area two months before the option
that was purchased in the fall of 2002 would run out.
"We are thrilled to
have raised the money ahead of schedule," says Executive Director
"When this historic
project started a year ago, we had no idea of the ground swelling
of support that we'd receive from mountain bikers and the cycling
industry. We believe that outdoors organizations should not
only help public efforts to conserve open space, but that they
should also undertake private measures to protect our landscapes
from development and provide more outdoor recreational opportunities.
The notion that a relatively small group such as NEMBA has the
ability to preserve land has captured the imagination of individuals
who would not normally donate to a land conservation project."
The land acquisition
is part of a complex partnership between numerous organizations
trying to protect a patchwork of privately-owned open space
totaling over 500 acres in the Upper Charles Headwaters area
of Milford and Holliston. Some of the organizations that have
been involved are The Trustees of Reservations, the towns of
Holliston and Milford, Executive Office of Environmental Affairs,
the Upper Charles Conservation Inc., and the Department of Environmental
Management (now the Department of Conservation and Recreation).
In addition to protecting the open space from development, there
are plans to develop a rail trail near the property.
"I congratulate NEMBA
on successfully raising the funds to protect key open space
in Milford, Massachusetts," says Ellen Roy Herzfelder, Secretary
of Environmental Affairs of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
"This project is a great example of how non-governmental organizations
can play an important role in preserving Massachusetts landscapes
for the benefit of the public and the environment."This project
is a great example of how non-governmental organizations can
play an important role in preserving Massachusetts landscapes
for the benefit of the public and the environment."
the majority of donations came from New England mountain bikers,
individuals from all around the country contributed: Arizona,
California, Colorado, Washington DC, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota,
North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee,
Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming. The International
Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) challenged mountain bikers
from around the country to support the cause by issuing a match
for all individual donors outside of New England. IMBA's Executive
Director, Tim Blumenthal, said, "By raising a quarter million
dollars to buy and preserve an important piece of land for our
sport, NEMBA has again raised the bar for other mountain bike
The cycling industry
also played a significant role. Local bicycle dealers —such
as Wheelworks, Landry's, Cycle Loft, Bicycle Alley and Gear
Works— not only donated to the cause, but also worked with their
suppliers and manufacturers to generate total donations of over
$50,000. Clint Paige, president of Wheelworks, worked closely
with the group to garner industry support. "I am very grateful
to the key dealers in eastern Massachusetts and numerous regional
and national suppliers that have helped us reach our $50K industry
goal for this project," says Paige, "but none of this could
have happened without the incredible commitment of NEMBA and
its tireless leadership."
NEMBA met its goal
two months ahead of schedule; last year the organization purchased
an option on the land for $15,000, an option that gave the organization
until the end of this year to raise the money. Now that the
deed is transferred, NEMBA plans to place a conservation restriction
on the land to protect it from development and will implement
its trail management plan to allow all non-motorized users free
access to this popular area. NEMBA wants this open space to
become a model for an environmentally sound trail system, a
laboratory for trail building techniques, and an inspiration
to other non-profit groups to preserve open space for conservation
and recreation. NEMBA will install a bronze plaque on the property
to acknowledge the support of major individual and industry
supporters, to be unveiled next spring.
The real work now
begins. Managing this property is NEMBA's top priority. We have
drafted a management plan and have formed a management committee
to suggest the final form that this document will take. There
are a number of key management issues that the committee will
- protecting important natural resources such as wetlands,
rare and endangered species.
- preserving of technical, natural recreational terrain,
with minimal new signage or other new facilities.
- planning for a non-motorized trail system that provides
the types of user experiences this area is known for.
- developing a regimen of trail maintenance
- coordinating the management of the parcel in conjunction
with neighboring conservation commissions and other open space
IMBA and VMBA meet with Vermont Wilderness Association about
Green Mtns (11/2003)
NEMBA's Bill Boles, Rob Macgregor and Philip Keyes joined a
representative of the Vermont Mountain Bike Advocates and Vermont's
IMBA Representative to meet with the Vermont Wilderness Association
(VWA) to discuss their proposal to increase the Wilderness designation
in the Green Mountain National Forest. The purpose of the meeting
in Royalston, VT, was to better understand the VWA's goals and
to express mountain bikers' concern for the negative impact
such a designation would mean for the future potential of mountain
biking in the region.
Both VT NEMBA and
VMBA have been looking to seek greater access to the trails
and roads in the national forest —opportunities which are currently
severely limited— and both organizations are concerned that
a Wilderness designation would forever ban bikes from this region
unless certain trail and/or areas were "cherry stemmed" that
allowed for bicycling.
Along with possible
new Wilderness areas, the VWA hopes to create other categories
of protected land —National Conservation Areas and National
Recreation Areas— that might be more favorable to bicycling,
depending upon how such areas were legislatively defined. NEMBA
will continue to communicate with the Wilderness Society and
the Vermont Wilderness Association in order to protect the interests
of mountain bikers as well as protect the forest.
England Trail Builders School (09/2003)
The phone rings. It's Gary Briere, Mass. DEM's head of recreation
and one of DEM's outside-the-box thinkers. I can't help but
wonder where the conversation is going to lead.
"You know, Phil,”
says Gary, “I think we need to find a way to get your NEMBA
guys' trail building savvy to some of our DEM land managers.
I see huge potential for the Pioneer Valley to become a really
great destination for recreationalists, but we need to offer
them a well thought-out trail system that makes people want
to come out here, spend some time and enjoy our forests and
parks." Yes, I'm paraphrasing, but this is how Gary talks, and
he always seems to start off with some large and inspirational
purpose. I take the bait and respond. "How about we do a trail
school for all the park supervisors? Maybe we can join forces
with the AMC and really make a show of it." This was probably
what Gary was thinking all the time, but as a veteran of the
DEM, he knows that it's better to have the person who does all
the work think that it's his or her idea. "Sounds great," says
Gary. "Let's do it!"
Thus began the New
England Trail Builders School. I called Joy Street and enlisted
AMC's Trails Coordinator, Heather Clish. She was also psyched
to be able to offer AMC's support for the school, and both she
and the Berkshire AMC's trail specialist, Ted Weber, offered
to be instructors. We rounded off the instructors with IMBA's
Trail Care Crew, Scott Linnenburger and Aaryn Kay, as well as
NEMBA's Tom Grimble, Paul Peaslee, Krisztina Holly, Peter Brandenburg
and Rich LaBombard. To top it off, we brought in Kurt Loheit
from California. Kurt never misses a chance to take a weekend
off from rocket science to spend some time in the woods talking
With over fifty people
registered —including over a dozen DEM land managers and park
personnel—my only regret was that there weren't more AMC members
at the school. But like NEMBA, the AMC has lots going on every
weekend. However, trail aficionados came from as far away as
northern Maine and New York, and there was a good regional attendance
by NEMBA members.
The Notch Visitors
Center at Holyoke State Park was a perfect venue, and the park
supervisor, Mike Smyth, was a gracious host who helped solve
a slew of logistical issues. The location was also the perfect
laboratory because of the variety of trails —and trail problems—
and each clinic dealt with different issues and techniques.
Over the weekend we
offered a combination of classroom instruction that presented
an overview of the principles of trail design and maintenance,
as well as on-the-trail clinics that focused on a variety of
topics. One session taught how to construct boardwalks using
hemlock trees as the support beams. A second focused on drainage
structures and erosion control techniques, and a third clinic
taught how to design sustainable singletrack trails. Some of
the sessions were repeated the next day so that people could
learn the different techniques, and we also offered a clinic
on working with rock to fortify the trails.
It was a productive
weekend and very gratifying to combine forces with the AMC and
IMBA, and have so many DEM land managers in attendance. As always,
we try to have as much fun as possible during these schools,
and there were some great rides and some of the DEM staff decided
that they wanted to see what the buzz was all about. In that
vein, Cary Vandenakker, Douglas State Forest's supervisor, deserves
the award for most gnarly mountain biking. Cary took his mild-managed
comfort bike down what is probably the most difficult descent
on the mountain and did so with style!
these are good for the trails, and by combining our knowledge
we can make the trails a better place for everyone.
at Bluff Point Endangered (09/2003)
Groton CT: Early this spring, a land management plan proposed
for Bluff Point asserted that mountain cyclists and, to a lesser
extent pedestrians, are endangering a certain False Beech Heather.
The plan recommended restricting or banning mountain biking
and hiking in many areas of Bluff Point. This position and policy
are being challenged, and the state Department of Environmental
Protection is crafting a new land management policy based on
input from CT NEMBA and other recreational groups whose access
rights are being challenged.
For now, the efforts
of the DEP seem to be stalled in our current state budget quagmire,
which has slowed progress toward the creation of multi-usage
zones and restriction of mountain bikers and hikers from the
southeastern area (the Nature Preserve.
CT NEMBA continues
to monitor progress on this land management plan through regular
contact with the park manager and the DEP environmental officer
assigned to this land management initiative. The original officer
assigned to this recently retired; a new one is currently re-learning
the history of the project. CT NEMBA has also alerted the Town
of Groton to the situation and is working with town officials.
We will keep abreast
of the situation and strive to push policy to an acceptable
conclusion. In May, CT NEMBA held a tremendously successful
trail maintenance session, re-routing about 800 yards of trail
to avoid a chronic wet area. Thanks again to all 15 of the dedicated
volunteers who helped. —Dave Singleton
Expands into Harold Parker (09/2003)
With the approval of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental
Management and the North Shore and Greater Boston NEMBA Board
of Directors, the Greater Boston Mountain Bike Patrol has expanded
routine patrol coverage into Harold Parker State Forest in North
Andover, MA. Geographically, the park is located within the
North Shore Chapters' territory, but the North Shore Chapter
does not currently have a patrol. With the Greater Boston Patrol
in close proximity, the Boards of both Chapters agreed to utilize
and provide financial support to the existing Greater Boston
Patrol. Harold Parker becomes the fourth park in the metropolitan
Boston area in which the Patrol operates. The other parks include
the Middlesex-Fells Reservation, Lynn Woods and Great Brook
Farm State Park. The Harold Parker Supervisor, Richard Scott,
got the process started by asking if it was possible to have
a patrol in his park. He was delighted when informed that Patrollers
were ready to start riding in Harold Parker, stating, that it
was good for the park and good for NEMBA and that there was
no downside. Patrollers in their recognizable red jerseys are
now in the process of becoming familiar with the trail system
and park policies. Initially, the current roster of patrollers
should be capable of providing coverage at the four parks, but
long term it is anticipated that more patrollers will be needed.
If you think you might be interested in becoming a Greater Boston
Patroller, contact the Patrol Director, Art Paradice at firstname.lastname@example.org
or 978-372-7442 for more information.
NEMBA Education Booth (09/2003)
CT NEMBA's Don Myers has created a marketing roadshow to help
increase membership. With a tent, banners and educational material,
Don plans to attend a number of different venues that our outside
the "normal" cycling scene.
In June the CT NEMBA
booth was set up at the Celebrate West Hartford event, a singles
and family gathering. Though it rained both days, NEMBA volunteers
spoke to a lot of people. Over 100 people came up and requested
a new brochure which had a map of CT with a listing of riding
locations throughout the state. The brochure also describes
CT NEMBA's advocacy programs and lets people know how to get
Bike Week Block Party (09/2003)
Every year, Redbones BBQ of Somerville, Massachusetts, pulls
out all the stops to celebrate all things bicycling for the
kick off of Bike Week. It's the only time in the year when all
the different elements of Boston's bike culture come together
in one place. Maybe it's the lure of pulled-pork and good beer,
but you got to hand it to Redbones to be able to attract such
a wide range of bicyclists and offer them such a good time.
The event is really
a block party, with cyclists spilling out of the restaurant
onto a transformed Chester Street that's lined with vendor tents
and imbued with the smell of food. Besides NEMBA and MassBike
—who were treated like the guests of honor— it was a great way
to meet all sorts of good people from Ace and Belmont Wheelworks,
Kryptonite, Independent Fabrication, Alternate Needs Transportation,
Rubel Bike Maps, Seven Cycles, Paramount Bicycle Repair, Hokey
Spokes, Vintage Etc, The Ride Magazine, Harpoon Brewery, Friends
of the Community Path, Aids Action Committee Fund Raiser Ride
and the Lou Gehrig's Disease Fund Raiser Ride. The list goes
on… and there is always a showing by the funky guys from SCUL
on their incredible chopper bikes!
The event raised $3,800
for MassBike and NEMBA, and Redbones kicked in a couple hundred
more to bring it up to $4,000 for the two organizations. Paramount
Bicycle Repair also presented a $500 check to NEMBA to help
with the Vietnam purchase. All in all, it's a very cool event
put on by some very cool people, and NEMBA greatly appreciates
Boston NEMBA Back to Work at the Fells to Protect Wetlands (07/2003)
For years, people have been complaining about an old rotted
boardwalk on the mountain bike loop at the Middlesex Fells.
To be truthful, the structure no longer resembled a boardwalk
as it had deteriorated to the point of becoming a series of
planks lying in the mud. These planks had done a remarkable
job for at least fifteen years but at the expense of the wetlands.
The struggle between the flow of water and the boards ended
poorly for both. The water rotted the boards and the boards
blocked the passage of water and inhibited the growth of plants.
By comparison, the new structure coexists with its location
instead of struggling with it.
A hardy group of 34
volunteers spent a beautiful spring day creating the new boardwalk,
which was built in two sections. The first is 96' long and 3'
wide and is elevated on posts to allow the free passage of water
and wildlife beneath it. By the end of the summer, the scars
of the old battleground will be almost gone, covered instead
by a flowery mix of wetland vegetation. The second section is
24' long and 3' wide and spans a small area that never sees
flowing water but does get wet in the spring. The ends of the
new boardwalks are a vast improvement over the old design. The
planks of the old boardwalk disappeared into the banks of the
ravine as the trail slowly washed down hill to cover the boards.
The new boardwalks end with rock buttresses including a very
impressive incorporation of a natural granite outcropping. The
work for this boardwalk started months before the work crew
arrived on the site. Since this project is located in a wetland,
NEMBA needed to get approval from the Medford Conservation Commission
to do the work. Mike Tabaczynski was the brains behind the operation
and prepared all the paperwork that is required by the town
and the state. The design was done by Jeff Hyland and Tom Grimble.
The Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) is the land manager
at the Middlesex Fells and was very supportive of NEMBA and
of this project. Rene Morin appeared at the conservation commission
hearing personally to signal his support to the town.
The day went very
well considering the remoteness of the worksite and lack of
nearby parking. Power needed to be generated on site and all
the materials had to be hand carried into the ravine and the
old, rotted boardwalk needed to be hand carried out. The Greater
Boston Tool Trailer was on site and provided almost all of the
tools needed to complete this project. At the end of the day,
NEMBA provided lunch for all the volunteers. Once again, the
remote site complicated the logistics but Claire Grimble came
through in the clutch by preparing a lunch spread that will
be the envy of Maintenance days for years to come. She even
baked chocolate chip cookies.
This project was very
important for NEMBA. It was an opportunity for us to interact
with the MDC and to help them to solve a problem. We are encouraged,
as this has helped us to build a relationship with the MDC that
is based on trust and success. It was a lot of fun to work side
by side with MDC employees Shawn Gallup and Keith Donnelly the
day of the event and I know many of our volunteers enjoyed the
opportunity to meet and talk with them about the Fells.
I want to thank all
the folks who helped with this project. We had a wide range
of people who attended this event. Some live near the Fells
and others live miles away but everybody was motivated to help
make the Fells a better place. For some people this was their
first maintenance day. I hope they will show up at more. Many
people changed their plans and even overcame personal injury
to help support this project and NEMBA's work in the Fells.
For more information on what is happening at the Fells or to
get involved, contact me at email@example.com. —Tom
Central NH NEMBA at Work on Merrimack Trails (07/2003)
A dozen members of the SCNH NEMBA chapter turned out on April
27th to spruce up a length of Class 6 highway in Merrimack,
NH, known locally as Grater Woods. The clean up was coordinated
with the Town who picked up the trash at a central location.
The clean up was followed by a ride that showcased the varied
terrain of the Grater Woods.
The Grater Woods area
is a 250-acre parcel of land purchased by the Town of Merrimack
as an "open space" set aside. The area consists of fire roads
and double track interspersed with many wetlands, ponds and
stream crossings. The Town is attempting to balance recreational
uses as well as preserving the habitats and migratory patterns
of the incredibly diverse wildlife in the area.
The SCNH chapter has
been working with the town closely on how to best manage the
many recreational uses of the area. There is even chapter member,
George Borrelli, who sits on the Merrimack Conservation Committee.
The Town has been
very receptive to the chapter's proposals to develop some areas
of the woods as single track. By working with groups like SCNH
NEMBA the Town feels it will benefit from club sponsored educational
programs and trail maintenance.
One of the many challenges
of trail development in Grater Woods is how to best manage trail
use by bikers and other trail users such as ATVs, hunters, and
equestrians. To that end, the SCNH NEMBA is proposing a segregated
use of the land, tight single track for bikes and open double
track for motorized use. Several sections of single track are
currently being mapped for town approval. --Tom Vaillancourt
NEMBA Donates A Bike to Huntington State Park (07/2003)
Huntington State Park in Redding, Connecticut is frequented
by many members of NEMBA who enjoy the great variety and challenge
of the trails. Over the past several years, members of NEMBA
have supported this park by attending trail maintenance days,
building a new trail, and repairing others. Now, to further
our grassroots involvement, CT NEMBA, with a matching grant
from Hat City Cyclists of Bethel, purchased a new Gary Fisher
Tassara hardtail for the DEP land manager, Nathan Hale. Nate
now has the means to check out and patrol the single track and
carriage trails at the park. The owner of Bethel Cycles was
very helpful in the purchasing process, and the grant also helped
purchase a helmet, tire pump, and other necessary items. CT
NEMBA also donated a set of Park tools. We are very thankful
for Nate's efforts at Huntington State Park, and hope the good
relationship will continue. Two trail care days have already
taken place in the park this year, and the next one is planned
for June 29th (contact Paula Burton, for more info). A series
of Tuesday mountain bike rides will run throughout the summer.
Protection Agency Presents NEMBA with Award (07/2003)
NEMBA Recognized for its Role in Preserving the Environment
and Natural Resources
Boston MA. April 22, 2003: The New England Office of the US
Environmental Protection Agency presented the New England Mountain
Bike Association with their 2003 Environmental Merit Award at
a ceremony held in Fanueil Hall in Boston, Massachusetts. The
EPA's Environmental Merit Award "recognizes commitment, teamwork,
perseverance -along with a sense of urgency- to bring about
meaningful and lasting environmental protection and improvements."
to right: Ira Leighton (EPA Deputy Regional Administrator),
Philip Keyes (NEMBA's director),
Tom Grimble (NEMBA's Vice-president) and Bob Varney (EPA Regional
NEMBA was nominated
and received the award because of its 15-year history of trail
maintenance and stewardship on public lands in New England.
According to EPA's Robert Lim, who nominated the organization,
"this nomination recognizes a mountain biking organization that
has worked hard to maintain trails, and educate state and local
officials that mountain biking can co-exist with other non-motorized
trail uses. NEMBA has grown into one of the region's leading
environmental organizations, winning thousands of dollars in
national trail grants and meeting the environmental need to
maintain trails in state and local parks."
director, Philip Keyes, commented, "It's an honor to be recognized
for something that mountain bikers care deeply about--the environment.
The preservation of open space and trails is critical to the
health of wildlife, water quality and our own public health.
Beneath the surface, open space and trails are a public health
issue, and the opportunities for exercise and recreation are
key to our personal and community well-being."
Over the last 15 years,
NEMBA has become expert in trail design, construction and maintenance.
Every year, the non-profit organization performs thousands of
hours of volunteerism on public lands throughout New England,
and is currently working with the Appalachian Mountain Club,
the International Mountain Bike Association and the Massachusetts
Department of Environmental Management (DEM) to train DEM staff
in the art of trail maintenance and design. Attendees to the
school will come from all around New England.
NEMBA has three title-sponsored
Trail Care Series. The oldest, the Merlin / NEMBA Trail Care
Series, has been re-christened the Tomac / NEMBA Trail Care
Series for 2003 and operates in Massachusetts, Rhode Island
and Maine; the Cannondale / NEMBA Trail Care Series holds volunteer
trail events in Connecticut; and the Rocky Mountain Bicycles
/ NEMBA Trail Care Series functions in New Hampshire. Each year,
the sponsored series promote 1000s of hours of volunteerism
on the trails in New England.
Bike Summit: Gearing up for More Political Clout by
Philip Keyes, SingleTracks #67, 2003.
NEMBA joined 400 bicycle advocates and industry leaders from
47 states in Washington DC for the League of American Bicyclists'
National Bike Summit. The goal: to lobby Congress to re-authorize
TEA-21, the single most important source of federal funding
for both road and offroad bicycle projects.
TEA-21: Not an energy drink... but it fuels cycling
TEA-21, the Transportation Enhancement Act, uses money generated
from the gas tax to better our highways as well as fund projects
to improve other modes of travel, including bicycling. This
year about 30 mountain bike advocates from various IMBA-affiliated
groups attended the Summit in force and made presentations on
various mountain bike initiatives, including NEMBA's land purchase
in the Upper Charles.
There was a pervading sense of urgency at the conference. TEA-21
expires this September and there are few guarantees that funding
for bicycle projects will be included in the upcoming TEA-3
legislation. The budget climate is lean and mean. War has begun.
The economy is in a shambles, and Republicans control both the
Senate and the House. Luckily, bicycle advocates are better
organized than ever before to bring Congress the message that
bicycles are an important part of the solution for improving
transportation, creating livable communities and promoting better
health of our nation's citizenry.
In the 20 years prior to the initial 1991 Transportation Enhancements
Act (known as ISTEA) only $2 million were spent per year on
bicycle-related projects in all 50 states. With ISTEA and TEA-21,
more than $2 billion have been invested in bicycling and pedestrian
programs and facilities—a huge increase—and the
goal for TEA-3 is to preserve and even increase the current
funding categories for bicycles. Currently only 1% of the transportation
budget is allocated to bicycle/pedestrian projects even though
bicycling and walking account for 7% of all trips.
Mountain Biking and the Re-Authorization of TEA-3
Offroad bike advocacy groups such as NEMBA have accessed tens
of thousands of dollars for trail building and mountain bike
education from the Recreational Trails Program funded from TEA-21
dollars. Congress created the Recreational Trails Program (RTP)
through a Highway Trust Fund generated by federal taxes paid
on fuel used by offroad recreation: 4x4s, snowmobiles, ATVs
and offroad motorcycles.
The full gamut of trail users —hikers, bikers, equestrians
and ATVs— can access the RTP for offroad projects, and
the funds are split between non-motorized users (30%), multi-users
(40%) and motorized users (30%). Over the last decade more than
$300 million have been invested in trails nation-wide, funding
more than 5,500 trail projects, and the building and caring
for thousands of miles of trails.
However, under the current guidelines only 17.5% of the $286
million dollars collected by the offroad gas tax in 2002 went
to the RTP program, and offroad advocates want to see this amount
increased to 50% in TEA-3. This would increase the available
funds from $50 million to $143 million per year.
The Recreational Trails Program isn’t a free handout:
it leverages significant resources from the private sector because
it requires a minimum of a 20% match, with many states requiring
a 50% match. For groups such as NEMBA, it is an important incentive
to get volunteers out on the trail and supporting our trail
projects. Every time you volunteer at one of our projects funded
by TEA-21 dollars, you're helping us meet our match and use
this money in your local park. This includes our bicycle ambassador
program in Connecticut, our bike patrols in Massachusetts, and
a wide range of trail projects in New Hampshire, Massachusetts
and Rhode Island
Mountain Bikers and Roadies Unite
There is a certain irony that a tax on gasoline is supporting
human-powered modes of transportation and recreation. But keep
in mind that mountain bikers buy gas to get to the trailheads
and most cyclists are also tax-paying motorists. Wouldn't it
be good to have a bike path leading to your favorite trail?
Wouldn't it be nice if you could put your bike on a bus bike
rack or bring it on the train?
Whether you're a roadie or mountain biker, we're all cyclists,
and according to NEMBA's demographic survey, many of us make
an effort to commute by bike and ride the road as well. We're
in this together, and we need to work together as well to make
sure there is adequate funding for all forms of bicycling in
the next TEA-3 bill.
America Bikes takes up the Challenge
Bikes Belong, the industry's advocacy trade organization, has
been instrumental in creating and funding a new non-profit dedicated
solely to the re-authorization of a bike-friendly TEA-3—America
Bikes. Managed by the top-notch advocate, Martha Roskowski (formerly
of Bicycle Colorado), America Bikes set up an office in DC in
2002 to lobby Congress and get the bicycle message out to the
public and movers and shakers in the industry.
Their message is simple. "Bicycling can improve the economic
prosperity and quality of life in American communities by ensuring
access to jobs, goods and services regardless of income, age
or ability." They want to make sure that more people bike
more often by investing in bicycling facilities and programs.
TEA-21 funding mechanisms are complicated. Many of the budget
line items that affect bicycling are buried within the legislation's
transportation enhancements and Congestion Mitigation and Air
Quality programs, and there are guidelines to help accommodate
bicycling when roads are built or repaired known as "routine
Luckily, bicycle advocates are increasingly expert in making
sure that these programs and guidelines are used for the benefit
of cyclists. The bottom line is to create a transportation system
that is favorable to bikes—constructing a seamless network
of on and offroad facilities and trails that connect homes,
businesses and families into a bicycle-friendly universe.
Health is on our Side
All you need to do is glance around at your fellow Americans
to see that many are overflowing their belt lines. Obesity is
rampant, especially amongst the nation's youth, and bicycling
could play an important part in reversing this portly trend.
Kids are less active than ever before and fewer are riding bikes.
Coincidence? Many think not.
According to America Bikes' research, almost half of young people
don't get regular exercise and one in eight is overweight or
obese. Almost one-third of trips during morning rush hour are
by parents driving their kids to school, and motor vehicles
are the leading cause of death for children between 4 and 14
years of age. Kids spend more than an hour a day in a car and
between three and four hours a day watching TV.
Safe Routes to Schools
To help reverse this, America Bikes wants specific funding in
TEA-3 for a Safe Routes to School program. By encouraging a
safe environment for children to ride or walk to school, kids
can become more physically active, traffic conditions around
schools will be improved and the cost of getting kids to school
will be lessened. Safe Routes to School could help create a
new generation of cyclists as more kids discover the freedom
and simple pleasure of riding bikes and feeling the wind in
their hair. There's not a whole lot of downside to getting more
kids on bikes, and the politicians seem keen to jump on the
Safe Routes bandwagon.
Congressman Jim Oberstar, a champion of bicycling on Capitol
Hill, wants to dedicate $250 million annually to the Safe Routes
to School program, with each state having its own Safe Routes
to School coordinator to make sure that every community has
access to the funding needed to implement this program.
There appears to be support for this on both sides of Congress.
When we met with CT's Senator Dodd's office staff we were told
that "This isn't a good program—it's a GREAT program."
Indeed, this is a hot button issue that's easy to support. It's
family-focused, community-based and taps into a critical health
DC Color Commentary
This was the first National Bike Summit NEMBA attended, and
it's hard not to feel an excited sense of giddiness while walking
the Corridors of Power and presenting our cause to the leaders
Despite the weary mood on the Hill and intense security needed
to gain access to the House and Senate, I was impressed at the
willingness and forthrightness of both Representatives and Senators
to meet with us. We had half hour appointments from 9:30 until
5pm non-stop without even time to grab lunch, and even this
only allowed me the time to join the delegations meeting with
the staff of Connecticut's Senators Dodd and Leiberman and Massachsetts'
Senators Kerry and Kennedy, as well as almost all of Massachusetts'
In every case, we were treated courteously, and I got the sense
that the staff really listened, cared about what we said, took
copious notes, and asked key questions. Yeah, I know that's
what they’re paid to do… but they do it well, and
it renewed my sense that democracy really does have a chance
As we hurried down the long marble corridors, it was hard not
to gawk into the ornate offices of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Trent
Lott and Patrick Leahy, or wonder who shot the huge Grizzly
bear whose skin hangs in the front office of Alaska's Don Young.
These halls exude power and pomp, and it’s easy to get
swept up in the infectious excitement about getting political.
The halls were also seeped with an air of pre-war paranoia.
One staffer remarked that "it's pretty weird working here
now. We're all trained in using gas masks. It's a 'grab and
go' situation and we have enough masks ready for all the staff
and visitors to our office." He even mentioned thinking
that he'd buy a mountain bike "because everything was shut
down during the last terrorist attacks." Notices were pasted
on some of the office entrances that no unopened mail would
be read. Fax and e-mail are the preferred mode of communication.
TEA-3 on Track?
While TEA-21 expires in September, this doesn't guarantee that
TEA-3 will happen soon.
Because of the Iraq war and the tough budget fight ahead, I
got the sense that the TEA-3 bill will be significantly delayed.
Senator Kennedy's staffer said that it might not even come up
as a bill this fall: "we're going to war and are going
to spend billions and billions of dollars. It's better to wait
and have a good bill than one that's bad."
Martha Roskowski, of America Bikes, says simply "we don't
know." The vote could be postponed to early 2004, Congress
could pass a continuing resolution to temporarily keep the funding
the same, or they could pass a one or two year bill instead
of the normal six-year appropriation.
Even after the bill is crafted and debated, there's no assurance
that it will have a dime for bicycles. This is why this year's
bike lobby was so critical. As one politician told Roskowski,
"bicyclists are budget dust." We're beneath their
radar and we need to continue to get face time with the politicians
and get our voice heard.
But we have significant support. Vermont Senator, Jim Jeffords,
wants to see TEA-3 funding levels increased to $300 billion,
and he sees bicycling as an integral solution to congestion
and pollution. Oregon Congressman, Earl Blumenauer (a member
of the Bike Caucus who bike commutes and hasn't missed a single
meeting yet) says that the country has to wean itself off of
its "addiction to an infinite supply of cheap oil"
by getting on a bike. And Minnesota congressman, Jim Oberstar,
is not only the architect of the original ISTEA and TEA-21 legislation
but is the champion of the Safe Routes to School program as
It's going to be an uphill battle but that's where the races
are won, on the uphills!
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