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Forum: Advocacy

Issues related to bicycles, usually related specifically to or affecting tourists in some way

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#1: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By John Nettles on Wed 14 Nov 2012 21:59 (US/Pacific) Edit Delete   Reply (10)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
While I doubt it will do any good, I created a petition on the White House's website under the "We the People" section.

Basically, I would like to require the National Park Service to be required to admit self-propelled visitors desiring to camp even if the campground is full. We know hikers, bikers, etc. do not take up much space, yet have been denied entry after the campground is "full" and won't be able to make it to the next campground easily before dark.

Perhaps this petition will encourage the NPS to at least consider the suggestion. The kicker is the petition has to have at least 25,000 people sign it by December 15, 2012, to be considered. High hurtle huh.

To make it even tougher for them to consider it, the petition is not available to be publicly seen until at least 150 people sign the petition.

If you feel this is a suggestion the NPS should consider, please sign the petition. If you are active on social media, pass it on to your hiking or canoing buddies.

The home page to the Petitions page is here. To sign any petition, you will probably be required to create an account (name & email).

Probably won't do any good, but it can't hurt to try.

      
#2: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Durrin Hynes on Thu 15 Nov 2012 02:16 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Hi John,

great idea! but, can you edit the text of the petition post facto?

"...we herpetitiontion the Federal Government..." doesn't seem quite right.

      
#3: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Pete Staehling on Thu 15 Nov 2012 04:05 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply (2)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
In addition to "herpetitiontion" typo, I also would question the accuracy of the statement that "The National Park Service (NPS) currently do not permit a Park to allow additional overnight visitors if the campground is full."

Has policy change recently? If not, that is not an accurate statement. Some of the National Parks that I have visited on tour do have hiker biker areas or otherwise guarantee a site.

In any case I am pretty sure they do "permit" a Park to allow additional overnight visitors if the campground is full". Maybe not all parks do not actually offer that, but as far as I know they are permitted to. I agree that it would be nice if they were required to do so. I think some rewording is in order that might be as simple as replacing the word "permit" with "require".

      
#4: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Ben Davies on Thu 15 Nov 2012 04:09 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply (5)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
One question.

If the site is full then how can it accommodate more people?

How is the capacity of a site determined?

Should sites be required to keep 3 or 4 pitches free for late bike campers in the same way that carparks are required to keep a few bays for disabled users?.

Using the disabled parking analogy, although those bays are reserved specifically for disabled users, once they have filled up the car park dosent have to provide additional spaces because its full.

Its just that once something is full, its full.

      
#5: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Steve Miller on Thu 15 Nov 2012 04:23 Edit Delete in reply to #4     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Campgrounmds all through Europe have patches of grass dedicated to hiker/biker campers. We found them to occasionally be crowded-but with a little goodwill it is possible to jam many tents into a small space. This is preferable to forcing people to keep moving into the night because all sites are filled with RV's.

      
#6: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Al Cyone on Thu 15 Nov 2012 05:09 Edit Delete in reply to #3     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
"I also would question the accuracy of the statement that "The National Park Service (NPS) currently do not permit a Park to allow additional overnight visitors if the campground is full.""

And make that "does not" instead of "do not".

I'd also change "The vast majority of the SPV" to "The vast majority of the SPVs".

And, though this is probably a matter of personal preference, I'd change "a SPV" to "an SPV". It reads better that way.

And definitely change "a SPV visitor". It's redundant.

      
#7: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Pete Staehling on Thu 15 Nov 2012 05:22 Edit Delete in reply to #4     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
In some of the places where they do this they squeeze a bunch of cyclists into and a campsite that would normally be for one car, they might squeeze in 6 or 8 cyclists and expand to another site if there are more. Before they fill for the day they usually have a pretty good idea how many sites they need.

Also, in some places they have an open area that they put hikers and cyclists in rather than in the regular campsites.

      
#8: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By John Nettles on Thu 15 Nov 2012 06:02 Edit Delete in reply to #2     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Wow! I spell checked that twice!

Unfortunately, there is no way to change the wording which makes since so people don't sign up for something and then it changes to something they don't want to sign up for.

      
#9: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By John Nettles on Thu 15 Nov 2012 07:08 Edit Delete in reply to #3     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Pete, I agree with you the wording could have been better. I tried to make the wording cover as much as possible within the limited space allowed (I had 2 characters remaining after several changes) but obviously erred in places.

I have been refused entry into some NPS locations and others have allowed me in even though full. My goal is to make it a policy that the NPS does not turn away a SPV even if a CG is full if reasonable conditions are met. Given that you have a somewhat extensive amount of touring, if you have never been in a situation where you were turned away, you have been fortunate.

Quite honestly, I doubt the petitions are taken seriously by the Administration but is a way to make it seem "we are listening to you". Not bad mouthing Obama as I figure any politician would do something like this. I think the "We the People" idea is good and easy way to see what is bugging the people and if there is an easy way to change something, then I could do it. Then the voters love me and vote for me again.

As I mentioned before, I just hope the NPS would actually consider altering its policy so a SPV is guaranteed a spot with a few reasonable exceptions, such as must arrive after 4:00pm, still pay applicable fees, etc.

Actually, I wish ACA would take the ball on things like this as they have much more clout than some little petition.

Maybe you could start a petition requiring all cyclotourists to be ultralight ;-) If David C. were a US citizen, he could ask for a federal ban on Marathon Pluses (grin)

      
#10: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Matt Thyer on Thu 15 Nov 2012 07:25 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
For all you doubters, this is camp site specific, but more often than it the NPS maintains additional camping locations (usually primitive) which are reserved for large groups or overflow. In addition there are many primitive camp sites which have been badly neglected and "closed" because they won't house a 53' RV. All of these locations are more than adequate for a cycle tourist who has probably cycled some serious distance out of his/her way, paid to enter the park, and would otherwise spend the night in a ditch or cycling back out of the park.

      
#11: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By John Nettles on Thu 15 Nov 2012 07:41 Edit Delete in reply to #4     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Ben,

A small tent does not have to be put up on an official site as you can imagine. I feel very confident there would be some areas of suitable ground "somewhere" in a large national park campground. I once received a ticket from the NPS for camping illegally since a campground was full. I camped in the campground off to the side in a large open area since the campground was sold out, was after 5:00pm, and the next campground was too far away. At that time, I was not confident or knowledgeable enough to stealth camp.

I am not saying the NPS should require some other camper to allow another camper at their site, just put us somewhere. I mean a campground can't come up with a couple of spots the size of a small car if needed? Realistically, the campgrounds will never be swarmed by hundreds of SPV at the same time. I am not asking for additional resources be expended just that the NPS say, sure go find a spot but stay out of the developed sites.

If the need is that every night there are SPV needing to use the policy, then add a hiker biker site.

The choice is allow a SPV to camp or require them to move on which may or not be dangerous. To me, SPV are a little different case since if I am in a car, I can go 40-60 miles down the road. If I am biking, hiking, etc., I can only go a fraction of that.

      
#12: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Ben Davies on Thu 15 Nov 2012 08:58 Edit Delete in reply to #11     Reply (3)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
John

I don't think you have answered the question at all.

How is the capacity of a campsite determined?

If you want to have any chance of changing the system, the first thing you need to do is to figure out how the system works.

Your argument is essentially that as tents are small it should be possible to accommodate them, but that dosent fit into a system that requires numbers. Its easy enough to say that its simply common sense, but given the size of a campground, by the same logic it should be possible to accommodate additional RVs as their size is small in comparison to the total landmass of the site.

A system also has to deal with the unlikely possibility that 10000 cyclists all turn up at the same time and demand that they be found somewhere to stay. Its very unlikely to happen but it is not impossible i.e. a mass sponsored cycle across the country.. we shall call it wheels across america or something.

Now if you agree that 10000 cyclists could not be accommodated in a campground, then you agree that there is some level of maximum occupancy, so then we get back to the crux of the question, how is the maximum occupancy determined and from that we can determine how many spaces can be set aside for cyclists.

      
#13: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Lorraine Nygaard on Thu 15 Nov 2012 09:45 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
* Writing from Canada, so may not apply to the mindset of the U.S.A. Park Service.
In my recent trip, I pulled into a provincial campsite that said "full", and went to find the operator. Luck had it that someone else had just cancelled, so I was good to go. However, the operator, originally from another country, assured me that even if a sign says "full", that an operator will not turn a cyclist away. She said that most operators have done the touring thing, and know that they would be putting a cyclist in danger if they sent the cyclist/hiker down the road. She said that if an operator refused a spot to lay a tent, one was welcome to swear and call the operator names.

Common sense I think. But, perhaps employees in the U.S. are made to believe that they can't bend the rules, even if it means endangering someone's safety? Is this really true? If there really is the problem that you say there is, I think a petition is a good wake-up call for your system. They might not be able to put things into writing, as another's suggestion of a large group demanding space late at night would become a legal battle. But, they might become more lenient to those in an emergency situation.

Good luck!

      
#14: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Mike Nickleman on Thu 15 Nov 2012 09:50 Edit Delete in reply to #12     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Your response shows why everything is so damn difficult to get accomplished. What John Nettles is proposing is common sense. What you are saying is not reasonable. John's proposal IS reasonable. We know it works already. I know California has a policy of not turning away any hiker/biker. It works just fine. Never have 10,000 bikers or even a plethora hikers shown up and demanded a site and not been able to be accommodated. The system works just fine. If in the future it becomes a problem where even a measly 2,000 bikers or hikers start showing up regularly (or even once) then something would have to happen and it would be addresed. Until that time I think the NPS could handle a policy like this.

Your example of a mass sponsored Wheels Across America would be a nice test to see if there is a problem. Maybe you could get this Wheels Across America super ride together and do it in California and see how it works. I would change the name to Wheels Across California though.

As far as trying to get this accomplished by signing a petition on the White House website is concerned I would say it might be better to start with the NPS and talk to them. Just one step at a time. Then continue to build the movement until the policy is enacted. Getting the ACA involved is a good thought.

In the meantime has anybody ever found themselves in a situation where they could not pitch their tent at a place where there too many tents? Ever?

      
#15: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Neil Gunton (admin) on Thu 15 Nov 2012 09:51 Edit Delete in reply to #4     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
"If the site is full then how can it accommodate more people?"

The campground ostensibly has a number of slots, which are of a certain size usually to accommodate a car + caravan. You could easily fit a number of cyclists on even just one of these lots. Also, there are always areas which are kind of "nowhere in particular" in these park campgrounds, between the trees on the edge or behind the office etc. Being "full" isn't such a black and white concept in reality, everybody who has been to one of these places knows that there is always a spot somewhere to put a small tent without bothering anybody. All this petition is trying to do is make the idea more official, rather than being at the whim and mercy of whoever is in charge that day. People on bicycles can't simply drive another 10 miles to the next campground when it's 8pm, and you're not allowed to wild camp in the park proper, so there aren't a lot of options here. It just makes sense to say that cyclists should always be able to find a spot, in my opinion, and it wouldn't detract from anything else in the camp to do that.

"How is the capacity of a site determined?"

You put aside an area for the hikers and bikers, and say to them "Find a spot". It's not that difficult, really. If it gets more packed then people have to move a bit closer together, maybe, but again, it's not like you ever get unexpected hordes of hikers and cyclists descending on these places - maybe a group occasionally, but there could always be a condition that says commercial tour groups have to book ahead. This is meant for your regular cyclists who aren't supported.

"Should sites be required to keep 3 or 4 pitches free for late bike campers in the same way that carparks are required to keep a few bays for disabled users?."

You don't have to think of it in terms of formal pitches. Just put an area (that is probably unusable for car camping anyway) aside and let people sort it out amongst themselves. When I camped in these parks, it was often a place under some trees behind the office or whatever. You just wing it, it's quite informal in terms of layout - but the idea here is to formalize the concept of this area existing at all. After that, leave it up to people how they arrange the space between themselves.

"Using the disabled parking analogy, although those bays are reserved specifically for disabled users, once they have filled up the car park dosent have to provide additional spaces because its full."

No need to take up any disabled spaces, or spaces that could be used by car campers. Most of the time, hiker-biker sites are not usable by car campers because they are away from the open areas, amongst trees, and no hookups, fire pit etc.

"Its just that once something is full, its full."

If you chop a campground up into sites sized for car camping, yes, that's true. But not true for cyclists, who mostly just need a place to put their tent on the ground and go to sleep. The concept of "full" is just not that black and white in real space terms.

Neil

      
#16: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Ben Davies on Thu 15 Nov 2012 10:28 Edit Delete in reply to #15     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
All this petition is trying to do is make the idea more official, rather than being at the whim and mercy of whoever is in charge that day

The problem is that you are trying to form an official policy and yet enforce it in an informal or unofficial manner which inturn puts you right back at the mercy of whoever in in charge that day.

You put aside an area for the hikers and bikers, and say to them "Find a spot". It's not that difficult, really. If it gets more packed then people have to move a bit closer together, maybe...

I agree that some area of land should be put aside for cyclists, but if you cant say exactly how many cyclists are entitled to camp on it at any one time, and what should happen if more than that number of cyclists turn up on any given day then you are right back at the mercy of whoever is in charge that day.

      
#17: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Neil Gunton (admin) on Thu 15 Nov 2012 10:33 Edit Delete in reply to #16     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
The thing is, there are already parks that have this policy, for example Grant Village in Yellowstone - I stayed there on my own TransAm back in 1998:

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?page_id=72

Lots of campgrounds have hiker biker sites that are not formally arranged, e.g. on the Pacific Coast:

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?page_id=104

It's a simple concept, and we already know it works. No need to try to make it more complicated.

Neil

      
#18: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By John Nettles on Thu 15 Nov 2012 10:36 Edit Delete in reply to #12     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Ben,

I hear what you are saying but to me, common sense does rule. The system could exclude commercial events so spontaneous groups of 10,000 hikers and bikers are extremely unlikely to show up unless Burning Man burned down and they said "Let's go to Yosemite instead!".

Call me naive, but I think if there is already a STEADY demand, the NPS probably addresses the issue. It is for those rare times when there really is no LEGAL and or reasonably safe alternative, i.e. if a cyclist is forced to get out of the campground, they will just camp illegally somewhere and hopefully not be eaten by a bear or pack of marauding raccoons in search of peanut butter never to be heard of again until a hiker (who was forced to leave) finds a bike in the middle of the forest with moss growing on the brooks saddle.

As I mentioned above, my suggestion would have the NPS incorporate reasonable rules, i.e. no commercial events, you can stay for one night only, etc.

Quite honestly, I don't want this thread to spiral down into an argument. If someone thinks my basic overall idea is fine with them, I ask them to sign it. If someone thinks it is idiotic and/or way off base, then feel free to not sign it. I just hope the cyclists' gods do not cause them too many flats or headwinds if they do not sign it ;-).

      
#19: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Ben Davies on Thu 15 Nov 2012 11:34 Edit Delete in reply to #18     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I hear what you are saying but to me, common sense does rule.

Common sense went out with the 1960's !!

Government, and government controlled agencies are highly procedure based and the reason is that the general public are all to eager to sue when things go wrong.

Common sense is almost impossible in the US, its becoming more and more difficult in the UK as suing employers and councils etc is becoming more and more commonplace. I lived in New Zealand for a year and in many instances people are not allowed to sue and funnily enough you see people using common sense all of the time because on the odd occasion that something goes wrong there wont be the million dollar payouts that are all too common in the US.

      
#20: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Al Cyone on Thu 15 Nov 2012 14:07 Edit Delete in reply to #19     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
" . . . there wont be the million dollar payouts that are all too common in the US."

I suspect they're much less common than the rare instances that make it into the headlines would suggest.

      
#21: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Pat Wimmer on Thu 15 Nov 2012 15:36 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply (2)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
John,

I wish you well. If I can find the petition, I will sign it. But, since I am a rock rib Republican, I'm sure they will strike my name, and then hound me until I repent.

Anyway, when my wife and I toured Washington State and Oregon this summer, we were introduced to the "we will never turn anyone away" concept in Oregon. The hiker / biker sites were often little more than patches of grass or under trees, far from showers and restrooms. That was okay. Tent spaces were very informal. That was okay too. And, in those few instances where it become very crowded, everyone found a way. And that was totally okay.

I'm surprised the NPS doesn't have a similar policy. Since I have begun adventuring, I've become quite informal, and I think many touring cyclists already had that mind set, or came to terms with it. It is so much easier to just let it happen. And guess what, it almost always works out.

Not to bore anyone, but in my days of working, I was exposed to the Myers Briggs classifications. People who are classified as SJ tend to be very rule, check list, protocol driven. In fact, 3/4 of all people are that way. You can tell who they are if they get upset that things such as meetings don't start on time. I am an NT, and am a lot less structured than SJs. (An NT's hot button is incompetence). SO, I guess my more informal view of campsites is native to my makeup.

It would be interesting to know how touring cyclists stack up with Myers Briggs classifications.

Happy Trails,

Pat

      
#22: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By John Nettles on Thu 15 Nov 2012 15:53 Edit Delete in reply to #21     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I have taken the test about 4 or 5 times over the years. I am always real close to being in the center (this is the test with quadrants, correct?). Once I was heavy on the S corner but I took the test the next year and was back in the middle.

As far as being a Republican, I am from Oklahoma and the White House let me do a petition so I figure they just will spy on me and see how wacko I am.

      
#23: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Micheal Bain on Thu 15 Nov 2012 16:18 Edit Delete in reply to #20     Reply   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I'm going to sign it's a step in the right direction

      
#24: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By kathy panton on Fri 16 Nov 2012 02:21 Edit Delete in reply to #1     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
Can I sign it if I'm Canadian? If so, I will.

The US government hires lawyers to do the job that you guys are trying to do - to write the law. Don't sweat it. If you can get enough signatures, then someone else will look at the exact wording and change it so that all your needs are met.

At least I think so - who knows how US politics work these days? :)

      
#25: Re: Sign Federal Petition requiring NPS to allow cyclists camping even if camp is full (thread)
By Leo Woodland on Fri 16 Nov 2012 02:40 Edit Delete in reply to #5     Reply (1)   Printable Relation | Link | Bookmark | Report
I really do wish that were true. Apart from anything else, "all through Europe" is a pretty big sweep, from Finland to Greece and Ireland to Bulgaria.

I can remember being turned away and I can remember a night when I wished I'd turned myself away because of where I was put, in an emergency, between two rubbish skips in hot, southern Spain.

On the other hand, sites in inland Europe are rarely full - my experience runs from Britain to Romania and Holland to Spain - and their owners are generally decent people who, like anyone else, don't want to leave others in the lurch.

That has also been my experience on American sites, both private and public. The NPS sites we enjoyed never turned away anyone who arrived by foot or on a bike, wardens told us. There was always somewhere.

I don't live in America and don't have the experience, therefore, but sometimes requiring someone to do something that's already done by free will and with a warm heart produces not quite the outcome you wanted.

happy days

léo


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