Off-Road Riding On the Rise

Motorcyclists encouraged to ride responsibly

(From Press Release) While most motorcyclists claim the open road as their turf, a growing number are switching to the open off-road. In response, land managers and nonprofit organizations are reminding riders to minimize their impact when in the outdoors.

“Off-road motorcyclists are welcome members of the outdoor recreation community,” said Patti Klein, National Stewardship Coordinator for the Bureau of Land Management. “However, it is important that they be aware of the environmental impact their bikes can make if not ridden responsibly.”About 3.1 million motorcycles in the U.S. are used to travel off-road at least occasionally, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council.

“Tread Lightly!,” a nonprofit organization that educates people to recreate responsibly, has issued some simple tips on environmentally-conscious riding in the outdoors.

1. Travel only on designated roads and trails or in permitted areas. Comply with all signs and barriers.
2. Drive over, not around, obstacles such as small rocks and logs to avoid widening the trail.
3. Cross streams only at designated fording points or where the trail crosses the stream. Cross slowly at a 90 degree angle.
4. Bike sound levels should be operate at 96dBA or lower as measured by the SAE-J1287 20-inch sound test, according to the BlueRibbon Coalition, a national off-highway vehicle advocacy group.
5. On tight, narrow trails, ride single file in the middle of the trail to avoid widening or braiding the trail.
6. On switchbacks, avoid roosting around the apex of the turn when climbing or brake-sliding during descent, both of which gouge the trail.
7. Obtain a map of your destination and determine which areas are open to motorcycles. Contact the land manager for area restrictions, closures and permit requirements.
8. Make sure your vehicle is mechanically up to task. Be prepared with tools, supplies, spares and a spill kit for trailside repairs.
9. Pack out what you pack in. Carry a trash bag on your vehicle and pick up litter left by others.
10. Following a ride, wash your bike and support vehicle to reduce the spread of invasive species.

To find places to ride, motorcycle riders should contact land management agencies such as the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management. Tread Lightly! provides additional tips and materials at

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