MTB Organizations Urge Rewording the BOLT Act to Better Target Dirt-Based, Long Distance Trails

Photo: Kurt Refsnider courtesy of Bikepacking Roots

The BOLT (Bikes on Long-Distance Trails) was introduced into the U.S. Senate in December to promote riding on federal lands across the country. The BOLT Act was meant to identify at least 10 existing long-distance bike trails and 10 areas where there are opportunities to develop long-distance trails or continuous routes made up of one or more trails. Initially, they could be developed for mountain, gravel, touring, or road biking.

Now, Bikepacking Roots is working with the Adventure Cycling Association and IMBA to support the legislation and “improve the language of the bills.” The organizations are recommending that the language be altered to define long-distance trails as:

  • Primarily dirt/natural surface with only short connectors on pavement or improved roads
  • Generally 80+ miles in length on federally managed lands
  • Composed of generally consistent types of trail, such as primarily singletrack or primarily 4×4 roads
  • May be used for mountain biking and/or bikepacking multi-day trips

“In refining this language, the BOLT Act will be more specific to dirt-oriented off-road riding and bikepacking rather than paved or gravel riding experiences,” says a press release from Bikepacking Roots. “BPR recommended this change because it is possible to create exceptional gravel and road routes like the Great Divide MTB Route and the Western Wildlands Route without substantial land manager involvement, but singletrack route development and maintenance requires much more of land managers.”

Cyclists and mountain bikers can provide their input through the Action Network form set up by the Adventure Cycling Association. Bikepacking Roots expects Congressional committee votes to happen soon and have also created an Advocacy Toolbox for Bikepackers.

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