Taos Mountain Bike Association board member, Loren Bell, addressed the Taos Town Council at the public forum on the town’s draft budget on Tuesday, May 21.
Mr. Bell opened his comments by pointing out that mountain biking can and should be a key revenue stream for Taos. Americans spend $81 billion each year on bicycle gear and trips – more than the total expenditure on airline tickets and fees. In Chaffee County (which includes Salida) mountain biking alone supports 27 jobs producing $647,665 in labor income, and generating $134,234 in state and local taxes. Taos has the potential to be one of North America’s best mountain bike destinations, driving visitors and generating income.
Bell asked where in the budget has the Town of Taos allocated money to support bicycling-related developments, specifically funding implementation of the Enchanted Circle Trails Plan developed by community stakeholders, and the public along with the Town of Taos. Town Planner Rick Bellis stated that outdoor recreation activities are one of the 4 cornerstones of Taos advertising and promotion, along with Arts, Culture, etc, and that outdoor activities are promoted along with other activities in the town. He further stated that although no money has been allocated to a particular organization to implement the Trials Plan, several projects included in the Facilities budget are part of the Trails Plan, and would be implemented over the next several years.
Bell thanked the council for providing a line item budget for the Towns semi-annual Bike Rodeo, an outreach event held by Taos PD that helps get kids excited about biking safely in Taos.
Finally, Bell stated that organizations like TMBA that represent a single user group has limited ability to support the Trails Plan, or create websites and brochures that advertise opportunities for riding in Taos, and that strength comes through working together with other user groups to accomplish these larger projects. To that end, Enchanted Circle Trails Association has been instrumental in helping to provide a unified voice to user groups and facilitate conversations between multiple stakeholders. Bell then asked the council to consider supporting ECTA in their efforts by funding the organization through the cost-sharing plan already adopted by other municipalities.