Slovakian President Bans Mountain Biking in the entire country!

After Sept. 1 2007, it will be illegal to ride a bicycle on most trails in Slovakia.

The regulation will be implemented by an amendment of forestry law passed by Slovak Parliament in June, and signed by Slovak President Gasparovic in July. This controversial measure has met with a strong disagreement among Slovak public and has been criticized by mountain biking advocacy organizations.

Slovak mountain bikers were caught by surprise when they learned that a widespread ban of mountain biking on forest trails has been proposed. Just few days after the information became public the Slovak parliament passed the legislation, albeit after heated discussions. Mountain bikers believed they would be able to persuade the Slovak President to veto the law. A petition against the new regulation was signed by 3,000 people within a day of the decision and eventually garnered close to 16,000 signatures. Yet, without any advocacy organization of their own, it was hard for Slovakian mountain bikers to take further decisive steps.

CeMBA a newly born mountain bike advocacy organization from neighboring Czech Republic has offered help to their neighbors. A working group coordinated Czech and Slovak activists in a campaign aimed at avoiding the pending ban. The group has provided several official statements and an overview of the situation to the presidential office. Upon CeMBA’s request, IMBA executive director Mike Van Abel sent an open letter to the Slovak president. CeMBA also provided an analysis documenting the minimal environmental impacts of mountain biking, as well as the positive social and economic effects of continued trail access. Sadly, President Gasparovic failed to acknowledge any of these pleas. On July 17, he signed the amendment that bans mountain biking access. For the time being, it seems that Slovak mountain bikers will face an uphill battle to regain access to the nation’s extensive Forest trails.

— Text and reporting Tomas Kvasnicka.

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