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TRAIL
ADVOCACY

WE ADVOCATE FOR OUR TRAILS

Our mission is to preserve and enhance non-motorized trail access in Whatcom County through stewardship, education, and advocacy. WMNBC takes the advocacy side of this statement very seriously. We have been working directly with land managers since the organizations conception to open up more trails and access points for mountain bikers and other trail users.

 

Our history of advocacy is rich with successes and longstanding relationships that have resulted in the 85+ miles of mountain biking trails you can find in Whatcom County.

 

Recent advocacy achievements include the creation of the Waterfront Pump Track, Huff & Puff, Cougar Ridge, Mohawk, Dad Bod, Brown Pow, and we just started the permitting process to build the Birchwood Pump Track!

Biketown, a film by Freehub magazine is a story of mountain bike communities and the struggles they face that ultimately inspire collaboration around shared visions and goals. The advocacy work WMBC does each year for our trails is highlighted in this film - check it out!

Each trail system in Whatcom County has multiple land managers

that we work collaboratively with in order to achieve our mission

Including:

Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

City of Bellingham, Whatcom County

Washington State Parks

Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)

United States Forest Service

We also work with other local groups such as Whatcom Trails Association, Backcountry Horseman of Washington, and Aspire Adventure Running.  We lobby on behalf of our mountain bike user group at county and city council meeting as well as meeting at our state capital, while engaging with a variety of user groups: mountain bikers, hikers, equestrians, dog walkers.

Many trails that we manage in Whatcom County are built by volunteers organized by WMBC, however many trails are built by professional trail builders such as Shire Built and require paid trail work.

ADVOCACY GOALS

  • Advocate for pump tracks and skills zones in city parks and tribal land

  • Contribute to DNR Trail Policy guidelines

  • Expand trail access and mileage in Whatcom County

  • Work directly with local land managers 

E-BIKES ON THE TRAILS

E-bikes designed for off-road use (aka E-MTB’s) are a relatively new phenomenon and both public and private land managers are implementing and adjusting their access policies for this activity.

The Washington state vehicle code, ratified by the legislature in February 2018 in SB 6434:

  1. Defines what an e-bike is in Washington State, and establishes a regulatory framework for their use.

  2. Classifies an e-bike as a special class of bicycle, as long as the power output is no more than 750 watts, it has a saddle, includes fully operative pedals, and meets the following other class restrictions:

    • Class 1: E-assist only while pedaling, with a maximum speed of 20 mph.

    • Class 2: Can be propelled solely by the motor, with a maximum speed of 20 mph.

    • Class 3: E-assist only while pedaling, with a maximum speed of 28 mph, and has a speedometer.

  3. Generally disallows e-bikes on designated non-motorized natural surface trails, including singletrack, unless specifically authorized by the land manager.

  4. Requires prominent labeling for all e-bikes containing the Classification Number, Top Assisted Speed, and Motor Wattage.

Where are E-MTB’s Allowed?

  • Larrabee State Park singletrack where analog bikes are already allowed.

  • Canyon Ridge motorized trail (US Forest Service)

  • Motorized access roads that are open to the public on DNR land.

  • Walker Valley OHV Area

  • North Mountain in Darrington (Snohomish County)

E-BIKES ON GALBRAITH MOUNTAIN
The recreation easement between the City of Bellingham and Galbraith Tree Farm (GTF) names the WMBC as the recreation manager, however, the WMBC does not set policy for access.

Since the first Recreational Use Agreement on Galbraith in 2002,

the land manager’s policy has always been non-motorized access. 

 

Currently, neither the City or GTF are enforcing e-mtb use on the mountain, however we have been monitoring for any negligent use or potential conflicts.  We are in discussion with the City's attorney regarding e-mtb access (both current and future) and what that will look like on Galbraith.  We have proposed a near-term solution of permitting riders with disabilities full trail access on e-mtb's and a potential pilot project for other e-mtb use in the future.

ISSUES AFFECTING E-MTB ACCESS DECISIONS

  • How will the current emerging E-MTB technology change over the next few years?

  • Will other trail user groups be more or less inclined to support human-powered mountain bike access on trails due to increased E-MTB access?

  • How will E-MTB power activation and speed limits be enforced?

  • Will E-MTB’s increased speeds lead to more user-group conflicts?

  • Will the WMBC advocate for E-MTB access?  If not, who will represent E-MTB users?

We continues to closely monitor the emerging E-MTB technology and its use across the country and around the world. We will work with local land managers on E-MTB policy to ensure it makes sense for all trail users.

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