Depending where you live, the cost of trail maintenance might be a big problem. If you’re riding on forestry roads, logging companies are likely shouldering the cost of upkeep. On fire access roads, the financial burden falls on the government. If you’re in an area where motorcycles can legally ride on ATV routes, then your local 4×4 club is at least partially responsible for financing upkeep. But what about other off-pavement routes, especially the tighter stuff?

One possible solution is the route taken by Steamboat Springs, Colorado. To pay for the town’s trail upkeep, the municipality has installed parking meters along the trail.

The city has installed 10 meters at trailheads throughout town. They’re configured to take credit card donations, starting with a minimum of $5. Trail users aren’t required to swipe their plastic every time they go hiking, but it is an option, if they want.

Going with a credit card-only interface makes a lot of sense, because A) It means users don’t have to carry rolls of quarters with them when they go hiking and B) It means there aren’t meters full of money out in the woods, waiting to be stolen.

So, what’s the motorcycling application? This obviously isn’t a solution that would work on just any old trailhead, but in an area which requires fundraising for maintenance or improvements, this could be a good way to bring in extra money. If you’re in an area that requires work, but doesn’t raise any money through user fees, or doesn’t raise enough – say an OHV park, or a dirt bike club’s trail system – a similar arrangement could help raise cash without being pushy about it. Another interesting application would be to raise money for building and maintaining bothies or other camping facilities, things that might not be used by most of the people on the trail. There’s a lot of interesting possibility here, and it’d be worthwhile for transportation departments in rugged areas like Alaska or Labrador to also consider these as a way to fund some sort of basic roadside facilities—just as long as they don’t expect to bring in any money from those notoriously cheap KLR guys.

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