Ban bikes for safety, not aesthetics

Photo by Lisa Godfrey
Photo by Lisa Godfrey

In New York City, only bicycles with solid tires ridden by children under twelve are allowed on the sidewalks. The reason? A moving bike can injure and kill. And each year many do.

Mixing bicycles with hikers on steep, narrow, and rocky Adirondack trails is a bad idea because the two activities are incompatible with one another.

However, I do not believe allowing bicycles on Adirondack trails violates the “aesthetic” of the wilderness ideal, as Pete Nelson has put it [“It’s debatable,” May/June 2016].

When I go camping, whether by foot or by carbon canoe, I carry a flashlight and a butane stove. I wear shoes with Vibram soles, and I have a lightweight tent. None of this equipment represents, in Pete’s words, “primeval ways in which human beings traveled the wild.”

Batteries are not “the stuff of children’s dreams and adults’ longings.” Do we prohibit headlamps because Nessmuk didn’t have one?

My point: a land-use position that derives from a highly personal wilderness aesthetic is judgmental; it alienates; and it’s arbitrary, not principled.

Argue if you will that bikes and hikers don’t mix. But please don’t argue that your taste is superior.

George Locker, New York City

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