E-BIKES GAIN ACCESS
E–BIKES GAIN ACCESS
The National Park Service announced a new electric bicycle policy for national parks, expanding recreational opportunities and accessibility. The policy supports Secretary’s Order 3376, signed by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt on August 29, that directs Department of the Interior (DOI) bureaus to create a clear and consistent e-bike policy on all federal lands managed by the department. The policy also supports Secretary’s Order 3376 to increase recreational opportunities on public lands.
A majority of states have adopted e-bike policies, most following model legislation that allows for the three classes of e-bikes to have access to bicycle trails. The NPS e-bike policy seeks to provide some consistency with the state rules applying where park units are located.
“As more Americans are using e-bikes to enjoy the great outdoors, national parks should be responsive to visitors’ interest in using this new technology wherever it is safe and appropriate to do so,” said National Park Service Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith. “They make bicycle travel easier and more efficient, and they provide an option for people who want to ride a bicycle but might not otherwise do so because of physical fitness, age, disability, or convenience, especially at high altitudes or in hilly or strenuous terrain.”
This new policy will enable visitors to use e-bikes, low-speed electric bicycles with power assistance in the same manner as traditional bicycles, allowing them on park roads, paved or hardened trails, areas designated for off-road motor vehicle use and administrative roads. The operator of an e-bike may only use the motor to assist pedal propulsion, which means that throttle-assisted bikes are not allowed.
Similar to the rules for traditional bicycles, e-bikes are not allowed in designated wilderness areas. Park superintendents will retain the right to limit, restrict or impose conditions of bicycle use and e-bike use in order to ensure visitor safety and resource protection. Over the coming month, superintendents will work with their local communities, staff and partners to determine best practices and guidance for e-bike use in their parks. Visitors should check the website of the park they plan to visit for details about where e-bikes are permitted and any other considerations specific to that park.
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