Bikers Weigh Into Maryland Politics & Get Good Results

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We received the following from the International Mountain Bike Assoc. [IMBA] list serve. It illustrates the vulnerability of the anti-access groups they still refer to as "environmentalists," and the effectiveness of grassroots political action.

Environmentalists in Maryland's DC suburbs have been escalating efforts to curtail recreation on public lands, including biking. In response, mountain bikers got involved in Maryland politics and got good results at the polls on September 10th.

Case 1: A bill in the Maryland legislature this year would have downgraded "recreation" from a "purpose" of public land to a mere "use," to be allowed only when various environmental preconditions are met, thus giving environmental groups a hook to litigate most recreation off public land. The bill was defeated by the House Environment Committee, chaired by Del John Hurson, a triathlete and strong supporter of outdoor recreation.

Hurson faced a tough re-election campaign; bikers from around the DC region went to work on his behalf: ten attended a mid-day campaign kick-off in June; seven came to a campaign reception in July; ten did door-to-door canvassing on a weekend in August; and six did poll work on election day (Tuesday, September 10th).

Hurson won by a margin of only 350 votes in a district of 90,000 people. Bikers' efforts were crucial and will assure a sympathetic ear for the next four years.

Case 2: A bill now pending in the county council of Maryland's largest subdivision would ban new trails in most county parks. It was supported by a variety of environmental and civic groups.

Over a hundred bikers (mountain and road) politely, but firmly, dominated the bill's public hearing in July, and impressed observers so much that challengers used the bill as a centerpiece of their campaign against the bill's sponsor.

The sponsor, who has been in office for 28 years, lost his re-election bid by 1000 votes in a county with 850,000 residents; indeed he was the only incumbent to lose. His bill is not likely to pass.

In both cases, personal investment of time by bikers in the political process played a crucial role in shaping favorable public policy. Of course, the bikers' campaign activities were strictly individual efforts; bike clubs are not allowed to endorse candidates.

--For more information on this story, contact BRC at: 208-237-1008; email: .

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