On Tuesday of this week, new Department of Justice rules went into effect that will allow “power-driven mobility devices” to be used on trails by “individuals with mobility disabilities.”
An “other power-driven mobility device” is defined in the rules as: "any mobility device powered by batteries, fuel, or other engines — whether or not designed primarily for use by individuals with mobility disabilities — that is used by individuals with mobility disabilities for the purpose of locomotion, including golf cars, electronic personal assistance mobility devices, such as the Segway® PT, or any mobility device designed to operate in areas without defined pedestrian routes. This apparently includes ATVs as well.
While this new rule currently applies to trails only on state or local government lands, it is expected to be challenged (presumably in court) to make the rule applicable on federal lands as well, including National Parks.
American Trails has been providing a ton of information on the new rule. They've also compiled a list of FAQ's that helps to explain the rule in more detail.
So I have to ask my fellow hikers, just out of curiosity, what are your thoughts on seeing/allowing Segways, golf carts or ATVs on the Appalachian Trail, the Little River Trail, the Rainbow Falls Trail, or any other trail in your favorite National Park?
Do individuals with disabilities have the right to enjoy parks just as anyone else, or do power-driven devices impede on the rights of hikers wishing to escape modern civilization while enjoying nature and solitude, for which parks were originally intended?