New Plates for your Other Ride 

Mountain bike plate to fund trails

There may soon be a way to support mountain bike trail development across Idaho, promote the sport and show your colors without taking up critical sticker space on your rocket box or trunk.

A new specialty license plate for Idaho drivers would provide funding for trails and could help take the state's mountain biking scene to the next level. The Legislature is considering the specialty plate, which would create a new mountain bike trails fund at the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.

Geoff Baker, a Meridian attorney, board member at the Southwest Idaho Mountain Biking Association, avid rider and self-described license-plate geek, came up with the concept and has been its chief champion at the Legislature.

"I'm trying to get as broad of an appeal as possible," Baker said.

He's talked to a dozen mountain biking clubs across the state and has wide support for the concept.

Baker said the money collected from people who opt for the mountain bike plate--or the souvenir version for carless plate geeks--will help pay for any trails on which bikes are allowed, including hiking or motorbike trails.

Baker acknowledged that motorbikers help maintain lots of trails that mountain bikers use already.

SWIMBA board member Brett Magnuson designed the plate, based on a photo by Todd Meier, a Boise photographer and fellow rider.

The mountain bike plate would cost an extra $35 ($25 to renew). After an administrative fee, $22 ($12 on renewals) will go directly to Parks and Rec and will likely be administered like the department's other grant programs. Most of the grants are overseen by advisory committees of user groups.

Baker said that is still being worked out.

Another benefit of the plate would be marketing mountain biking in Idaho.

"I'm trying to make Idaho sort of a vacation destination for mountain bikers more so than it is now," said Baker, who travels around the West to ride several times a year.

The bill to establish the program, House Bill 486, is awaiting a hearing in the House Transportation and Defense Committee [Note: Passed committee 2/12]. Monitor the BW Political Calendar on our news page to see when the hearing will take place.

Should the bill pass, Baker still would have to raise up to $10,000 to fund the start-up costs for the Idaho Transportation Department to add the plates to the specialty plate offerings.

He's pledged $500 of his own money toward making that happen.

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