"07/11/05 WASHINGTON This afternoon, U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx (N.C.-5) introduced a resolution to create 'National Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day', in order to motivate young people to be physically active and fit."

503 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Representative Foxx:

I know you mean well, but your resolution makes no sense:

1. Bicycles are LABOR-SAVING DEVICES! They were designed NOT for getting exercise, but SAVING ENERGY. And they DO! A decades-old Scientific American article stated that the bicycle is the most efficient form of transportation in the world, surpassing walking and all other means of transportation. Bicycles only increase exercise when they replace motor vehicle use, which is NOT the case for young children!

2. Mountain biking is a very expensive hobby, and thus not appropriate for the young children you are targeting.

3. Mountain biking is a very dangerous sport, regularly resulting in serious injury and even DEATH, and thus not appropriate for the young children you are targeting!

4. Mountain biking is one of the most destructive activities allowed in any park. It accelerates erosion, creates V-shaped ruts, widens trails, kills small animals and plants on and next to the trail, and drives wildlife away from the resources they need and out of the parks. Please don't sacrifice wildlife, in the name of physical fitness. It isn't necessary, since there are many other forms of exercise that are not as destructive of the natural world, such as walking and hiking. For the science on the impacts of mountain biking, see http://mjvande.nfshost.com/scb7.htm.

5. Every round trip has an equal amount of uphill and downhill. Riding a bicycle downhill provides essentially ZERO exercise -- less than walking. Riding a bicycle on level ground provides minimal exercise -- less than walking. Permitting bikes on trails drives other trail users off the trails, because hiking around bicycles is dangerous and very unpleasant. One has to be constantly on guard to be ready to jump off the trail to avoid getting hit by speeding bikers. Continual bell-ringing or shouts of "on you left", forcing you off of the trail (even though hikers are supposed to have the right-of-way!) destroy any enjoyment you might otherwise gain from being in nature. When you force hikers off the trails, you end up with NO NET HEALTH BENEFIT!

This initiative is the mountain bikers' way of trying to improve the image of their extremely destructive sport, by pretending to benefit children (and who doesn't want to help children?). Please don't fall for their propaganda.

Sincerely yours,

Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.