//Trail Status mouse over Java // State Level Advocacy Call to Action and Bicycle Indiana Statehouse Day, Jan 31

Author Topic: State Level Advocacy Call to Action and Bicycle Indiana Statehouse Day, Jan 31  (Read 2560 times)


  • Paul Arlinghaus
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HMBA has been very successful over the past 2 decades with a “built it and they will come” approach to advocacy.  Meaning that if we build great trails, more people will use the trails and land managers will see the value in natural surface trails.  But we are quickly approaching the ceiling for this approach to advocacy.  More and more, we are hearing “Don’t you have enough trails” or “when are you going to have enough trails” from State and Local Land Managers.  Just a couple weeks ago, Don Covlin, Deputy Director of Indy Parks, told a group of mountain bikers that 16 miles of mountain bike trails should be enough for Indianapolis residents. 

We are at a critical point in time for mountain bike advocacy in Indiana.  The trails HMBA has built have increased the size of the trail user community.  In addition to increased numbers of trail users, we have become more diverse.  Women’s clinics, youth programs, urban parks (The Headquarters) and NICA racing have made our trail users a more diverse group.  In theory these increased numbers should help with advocacy.  But our State and Local Park leaders don’t spend much time in the woods to see the positive impact our trails have for all Hoosiers.  The voice of mountain bike advocates is starting to fall on deaf ears, and currently Park leaders can ignore us because there is no political consequence to doing so. 

We need our political leaders to hear from natural surface trail users in Indiana.  And unless they do hear from you, it is likely we will see very few new trails in the years to come.  Or worse we will lose access.  Just last year, the DNR attempted to remove mountain bikers from the Adventure Trail at Harrison Crawford State Forest (O’Bannon Woods), even though mountain bikers had spent 6 years reopening and maintaining the trail.
The bottom line is that if you want more trails, YOU must take action!

This newsletter will provide information on reaching out to your State Legislators.  We will send out a separate newsletter specific to the City of Indianapolis in the next few days.
2019 Bicycle Indiana Statehouse Day, January 31st
The best way to drive change is to show up in person.  Please give half a day to make your voice heard.  Bicycle Indiana has organized an event at the State House for all cyclists to join together and make our voice even louder. 
You can increase your voice by reaching out to your State Legislators and inviting them to attend.  You can also ask them for a meeting.  If you get a meeting with a Legislator, please let us know (contact_us@hmba.org), and we will have someone join you for your meeting.  We will be at the State House all day, so you can schedule meetings in the morning or afternoon.
Breakfast is being served from 7:30 AM to 10:30 AM.
Important Issues for 2019
HB1439 and SB89 safe passing distance bills: While not specific to mountain biking, many of us also ride on the roads. Indiana is one of a few States that does not have safe passing laws.  Please support Bicycle Indiana’s efforts to pass this legislation.

HB1549 Division of Outdoor Recreation:  This legislation would require the division of Outdoor Recreation to Promote Economic Development from outdoor recreation, to develop strategies to increase the number of new jobs related to outdoor recreation, and to create an outdoor recreation grant program. 

Currently the DNR does not take economic impact into consideration when making decisions.  Case in point, the Off-Road Cycling Permit.  While this permit raises funds for State Parks, it likely does so at a greater economic cost to our state and local tourism industries. 

Please support HB1549.
SB361, Electric Bicycles: This bill mirrors similar bills passed in Michigan and Ohio (note the trend that Indiana lags behind in legislation for outdoor recreation).  The bill would define Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes and allow them to be treated as bicycles for transportation.  The bill would allow land management agencies to allow or disallow e-bikes from trails. 

This Bill would likely have little impact on mountain bike trails on DNR properties.  The DNR does not currently allow E-Bikes and would likely not allow e-bikes on any non-motorized DNR Properties. 

HMBA’s position is that E-Mountain Bikes are a separate user group from Mountain Biking.  We do not believe that e-mountain bikes should be allowed on all mountain bike trails, but do see them as valid means of recreation that can benefit many Hoosiers who are not served by human powered mountain bikes. 

HMBA supports HB1549 and encourages the DNR to develop a E-Bike policy which includes opportunities for E-Bike access on DNR properties. 

We understand that there is not clear alignment within the mountain bike community on E-Bikes.  This is your chance to make your voice heard. For, Neutral, or Against? Make sure your legislators know this is an important issue. 

Eagle Creek Park: The West Side Trail Steering Committee (Eagle Creek) had a representive from the IDNR.  This committee had no representatives from any trail advocacy organizations and the DNR was represented by the Division of Nature Preserves instead of the Division of Outdoor Recreation.  The West Side Trail is not in a State Nature Preserve and therefore should be outside the Division of Nature Preserve’s purview.  Despite mountain biking being ranked as the #1 need in Indy Park’s last 5 year master plan, this Steering Committee decided to exclude mountain bikes and moved forward with a trail plan without public comment.  While Eagle Creek is an Indy Park, it is one of the Largest City Parks in the country and serves all Hoosiers.  We would like to reopen this trail plan and include mountain biking.  The mountain bike community has a proven track record of building and maintaining the best natural surface trails in the State and our volunteers can bring a lot of added value to this project.
How to contact your legislatorsThe first step is to find out who your representatives are.  The link below makes this easy to do, just enter in your address and it will look up your State Legislators.

Remember that if we want our State Legislators to help us, we need to build a positive and constructive relationships them.

Keys to communication with your legislators
1)      Be positive and constructive.  We want to work with our State Legislators to make Indiana a better place to live         and help the Local/State economy
2)      Share a personal story: What have natural surface trails done for you (examples below).
          a.       Increased your health
          b.       Influenced where you live
          c.       Vacation / Spend money in the State
          d.       Recreate outdoors your kids / significant other.
          e.       Allowed you volunteer
3)      Make sure they know you are their constituent.  Comments from those who live in a particular district have the most         influence.  If you comment to a legislator you are not a constituent of, please let them know what your connection is to
         there district (examples below).         a.       Legislators whose districts you visit and spend money in due to trails.
         b.       Legislators in Indianapolis, whose districts are missing out on better trails at Eagle Creek (to find the legislators for
                   Eagle Creek Park, search using Eagle Creek’s Address: 7840 W 56th St, Indianapolis, IN 46254).
4)      Email your positions and comments, then follow up with a call to their office.
5)      Even Better, ask to meet with them (best if you are willing to be flexible to meet when it is convenient for them.  Also invite         them to the Bicycle Indiana Statehouse Day, January 31stSample Letter below. (Note: of the topics below the subject of
         E-Mountain Bikes is a subject where all mountain bikers don’t agree.  Please feel free to modify this section to reflect your         views.  This is your chance to be heard on the topic by those passing the laws)_______________________________________________________________________________

Dear{Your State Legislator}
I live you your district and would like to let you know about some important Bills that are currently under consideration.
{personal Experience}
[Example: My family and I are cyclists on both the road and off road.  Safe roads are important to my family and allow me to commute to work by bicycle.  We also enjoy using natural surface mountain bike trails as a family.  Mountain biking is  a sport my kids enjoy and it allows our family to spend time together.  We often travel and vacation to mountain bike and trails like the ones at Brown County State Park allow us to vacation in Indiana. I also volunteer to maintain mountain bike trails]
I would like for your support for the following Bills
HB1439 and SB89 safe passing distance bills
HB1549 Division of Outdoor Recreation:
SB361, Electric Bicycles:
Indiana is one of 7 States without any safe passing laws and lack of safety on the roads currently deters my family from riding our bikes more often.  Pleas support HB1439 and SB89
The economics of Outdoor Recreation in the US create 6.1 million jobs, $646 billion in spending and $29.7 billion in State Tax revenue.  Indiana lags behind other States in benefiting from outdoor recreation.  I personally travel to other States for outdoor recreation opportunities that do not exist in Indiana.  Please support HB1549 and help Indiana create jobs and generate income while making Indiana a better place to live. 

Just like E-Scooters, E-bikes are here and in many causes our local policies and laws are not ready for the new technologies. E-Bikes create both challenges and benefits to Hoosiers and we need to ensure Indiana is ready.  Please approve SB361, as written (allow local rules on E-Bike usages) and encourage the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to develop an E-bike policy that includes opportunities for E-Bike usage.
Another matter, outside of current legislation, is the Indiana Department of Natural Resource’s involvement in the West Side Trail’s Committee at Eagle Creek Park.  This trail committee did not have any representation from trail user groups and this committee developed a plan which excluded mountain biking.  Indy Park’s 5 Year Master Plan identified mountain biking as the #1 need from Indy Park Users.  Despite this trail plan being outside of a Nature Preserve, the DNR was represented by the Division of Nature Preserves rather than the Division of Outdoor Recreation.  Please ask the IDNR to allow the Division of Outdoor Recreation to work with the trails community to develop a better, more inclusive plan.  Please ask the City of Indianapolis to use the data from their 5 year plan and develop a trail plan with mountain bike access which will support a more diverse user and volunteer group. 

I would like to invite you to attend the Bicycle Indiana Statehouse Day, January 31st. Breakfast will be served from 7:30AM till 10:30AM in the 2nd Floor Atrium. 

{Please indicate if you will be there}
{Name / Address / Phone / Email}
« Last Edit: January 21, 2019, 04:32:41 PM by Paul_Arlinghaus »
HMBA: Director of Trail Development / Secretary


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HMBA’s position is that E-Mountain Bikes are a separate user group from Mountain Biking.  We do not believe that e-mountain bikes should be allowed on all mountain bike trails, but do see them as valid means of recreation that can benefit many Hoosiers who are not served by human powered mountain bikes. 

As someone that sees himself on an e-mountain bike sometime in the next 2 decades, I respectfully disagree with this characterization and view of e-mountain bikes. 

*Note-this is my personal opinion, and may not reflect the opinion of my employer, who sells e-bikes (but not e-mountain bikes, cause, you know, nobody allows them.  Yet.)


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Below is the ONLY City-County Councilor I heard back from (I contacted ALL).  If Jared is your rep., maybe drop him a quick line to thank him for responding.  If YOUR rep. is any of the others, please contact them...maybe you'll have better success.
NOTE: I contacted all of them a month+ ago.

the only other people I can recommend are the committee members on parks, as well as a candidate running against Councillor McHenry, Crista Carlino. She could be an advocate if she were to win. I don’t mean to get you involved in politics but sometimes it helps to inform candidates so you can get them to help you if they should win.

Do you know Greg Midgley of the Vandalia Trail and Heritage National Road Trail? He might be able to help. I am working with him on getting the Vandalia Trail built out in my district. I used to ride mountain bikes a lot.

Also, I chair an infrastructure commission and in the spring we will be evaluating how we can get additional revenue for our roads, sidewalks, trails and bridges. It would be nice to have more organizations and people attending to show how important this is.

Jared EvansIndianapolis City-County Council Member Jared.Evans@Indy.GovConstituent Concerns (317) 327-4241
Fat Bikes Matter!


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