Are Electric Bikes Allowed On Trails

Aug 03, 2022

Are Electric Bikes Allowed On Trails

E-bikes are now allowed to ride on any trail that is open to pedal bikes in all national parks, according to a final rule issued by the Interior Department for the use of electric bicycles on public lands. It defines e-bikes as "non-motorized bicycles" on national park land, removing them from off-road vehicles, motorcycles and other gasoline-powered single- or dual-track vehicles. 

On August 29, 2019, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt issued Secretary's Order (SO) 3376 for the purpose of increasing recreational opportunities through the use of Electric Bikes (e-bikes). The SO directed the BLM and other agencies (National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Reclamation) to expand access on public lands to e-bikes and begin the longer-term process of amending existing regulations to address e-bikes. The SO specifically directed the BLM to revise its off-road vehicle or off-highway vehicle (OHV) regulations at 43 CFR part 8340.

A proposed rule to revise the BLM’s OHV regulations at 43 CFR part 8340 was published in the Federal Register on April 10, 2020 (85 FR 20229). By the close of the public comment period on June 9, 2020, nearly 24,000 public comments were received on the proposed rule. Issues raised by substantive comments resulted in the BLM updating some language in the final rule, which was published in the Federal Register on November 2, 2020, and became effective on December 2, 2020. This Final BLM E-bike Rule is in line with the Secretary's Order.

While the BLM intends for the rule to increase accessibility to public lands, e-bikes would not be given special access beyond what traditional, non-motorized bicycles are allowed.

It means that e-bikes are no longer banned on bike lanes in national parks. Before the new ordinance, e-bikes were banned on bike lanes in national parks, and only a few areas allowed Class 1 e-bikes.

electric bike laws

The new law allows all three classes of e-bikes to be ridden on bike lanes in national parks, but doesn't allow e-bikes to use throttle control, possibly considering that throttle control can lead to speeding that can lead to accidents. It sounds a little funny that all e-bikes have to use pedals for power when driving on the trails of a national park.

E-Bikes Trail Etiquette

Trail etiquette is the same for e-bikes as it is for traditional bikes. Trail etiquette practices are based on a general concept of consideration of other trail users, and protection of the trail and surrounding natural resources. Key concepts include:

  • following any posted trail rules such as speed limits, directional travel, or yielding suggestions
  • protecting the trail by staying off of the trail during wet or muddy conditions
  • openly communicating with other trail users with typical communication devices such as calm voice and non-obtrusive bells
  • use of helmets and personal audio devices that allow you to hear other trail users and wildlife
  • using passing techniques that are considerate of other trail users and that do not result in trail widening
  • ride in group numbers that do not negatively impact other trail users experience

There are still a few restrictions, but overall, the new law is good news for those who love e-bikes.

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