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E-Bikes Move Forward with USA National Park and BLM Trail Access - Thoughts?

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8/30/2019 2:08 PM

I don't want to post a link to that other website, but apparently the Secretary of the Interior has opened up e-bike access to federal lands. Here are a few quotes:

According to a statement from the United States Department of the Interior, eBikes, including eMTB, will now be classified as non-motorized bikes and will have the same rights and access to federal trails in many national parks and other federally managed lands, at least those managed by the DOI which accounts for about 75% of public lands in the US.
National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith issued a statement on Friday saying, “e-bikes 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.” "

I for one applaud the move. This helps define what an e-bike is, removes some doubt as to the future legality of the machines, and also helps remove some of the worry that e-bikes will erode trail access for pedal bikes. What are your thoughts?

Do you like the fact the e-bikes are now legal?


8/30/2019 2:11 PM

I voted Yes! Finally! only because the older I get the more I believe we should be more open with trail access to all forms of fun. Smart local regulations are key, but just because I believe a pedal bike is the bees knees doesn't mean I shouldn't respect hikers, equestrian, moto (okay, I ride moto too) e-bikes etc.

What I really want to see is more trials. Demand is higher than ever. What we need is a plethora of trails and we could all quit our bitching and whining.

BTW, I'm not sure how this will really effect thinhgs...


9/5/2019 8:34 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/5/2019 8:48 AM

The National Park question is an interesting one as much of the areas that traditional mountain bikes are allowed are basically fire roads or double-track. I hear the "access for more," discussion, I could argue with myself in the basement and get nowhere.

Here is something that readers may find themselves more...passionate about?

Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship, the keepers of Downieville and the Lost Sierras, have taken a stance on e-bikes, they are for them. The first article is their take on e-bikes and how they feel about them with regard to access. This is an area where a number of us here at Vital have feelings. It would be awesome if, after reading the articles, members gave their feedback on given talking points.

From the SBTS site: Understanding E-bikes

From the Shimano Steps website, in conjunction with SBTS: Exploring the Lost Sierra

Things that stood out (quotes from the articles)
"Evelyn could count the number of mountain bike rides she'd done on one hand. Thanks to the e-bike and her determination, Evelyn was able to ride with an advanced group of riders on two days of Downieville trails, each day covering nearly 30 miles with almost 5,000 vertical feet of climbing. Evelyn's performance was a prime example of the importance of e-bikes; they allow more people to explore further into the backcountry, seeing terrain they'd otherwise never get to see." - I really want to hear what people make of this. I have lots of thoughts but want to listen to other people's input first.

"e-bikes will also help bolster the recreation economy of struggling mountain towns like Downieville that rely on visitation and tourism revenue." - Interestingly, this is from the people that just released a (fantastic) documentary on how traditional mountain biking revived a town. A town that, per the documentary, is no longer struggling.

I have had the pleasure of some great conversations with industry folks whom I greatly respect, each person sharing their trepidations with e-MTB. What I keep coming back to is the same sentiments shared at large (mostly tech giants, scientists, and professors) regarding our current tech-based lives: it happened so fast and felt so good, nobody asked if we should do it.


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9/5/2019 9:39 AM

I am 100% on board with the SBTS view of eBikes. Getting more people on trails is always a good thing. People get passionate about recreational opportunities once they experience them. All of the old time riders bitching about eBikes are no different than the Sierra Club being upset about regular bikes. Their argument is "you are different than me so you don't belong" . Basically elitist and exclusionary.


9/5/2019 9:59 AM

Falcon wrote:

I don't want to post a link to that other website, but apparently the Secretary of the Interior has opened up e-bike access to ...more

How about the question, "why now?"? Why did regulators, seemingly out of the blue, spend the limited time they have to allow eBikes on National Land? I don't want to be paranoid but I wonder what the true driver/motivation was? It doesn't seem super far fetched that a group who wants to ban bikes of all types on trails everywhere might look for ways to see an increase in conflicts between bikes with other trail users. How many hikers getting hit by inexperienced bikes traveling 20 mph on Federal trails will it take for regulators to ban all bikes from said trails now that pedal and e-bikes are legally the same? Seems fishy to me.


9/5/2019 10:13 AM

Where is the option for "Meh, why does everything have to be us vs. them?"


9/5/2019 12:59 PM

Makes perfect sense to classify a bike with a motor as "non motorized."


9/5/2019 1:08 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/5/2019 1:18 PM

For the people asking “Why?” is the same answer for a lot of things in the world . 1) it’s about the money and 2) older people make up the rules/laws.

Every National Park I’ve visited the last 5 years had 98% of the proper singletrack trails were open only to horses and hikers anyway- but all those retirees that come to the National Parks in big RVs can now bring their Ebikes and cruise the dirt roads and paved pathways open to mtb now too. Just more reason to come pay the $25-50 entrance fee . The BLM lands of the US are usually open shrub / scrub lands and not proper forests anyway (or the Forest Service would govern them), so they have been open to motor bikes the whole time.

Next time you’re out riding that quiet trail it the woods somewhere- you should fully expect to see this guy passing you by though:



9/5/2019 8:43 PM

If it's BLM, then that includes a lot of the desert riding in UT, such as Moab and Gooseberry.

I'd be fine with it, presuming that congress would increase funding for trails maintenance, but our government agencies continue to be defunded. So we're just going to get more people riding for more miles with an ever decreasing budget, and things are going to get f'd.


9/6/2019 4:45 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/6/2019 4:48 PM

I think this whole topic could be easier if it were split into two questions instead of just asking "should eBikes be allowed at "x"? This question by itself causes people to go in different directions because of how they view/define ebikes.

The first question: are eBikes actually bikes or are they a different category, e.g. Pedal Assisted Motorcycles?
No, they have motors, therefore they're not bicycles. Having "bike" within the name doesn't mean they're a bike! laughing (From, bicycle = "propelled by pedals") Trying to categorize them with bicycles is deceptive/disingenuous. (Note that this doesn't mean they're bad, it just means they're not bicycles). A lot of the discussion/argument gets stuck here because many people, such as me, have a problem with grouping what should be called a motorcycle in with bicycles.

Second question: should "pedal assisted motorcycles" be treated similarly and have similar access to bicycles?
I don't have time to write a thorough response, so I'm going to start with a couple of questions and give a short synopsis on my current thoughts.

For the pro eBike folks: 1. Should motorcycles have access to bicycle trails, hiking & equestrian trails? Why or why not? 2. Should bicycles have access to all hiking & equestrian trails? Why or why not?

My summarized thoughts: I'm somewhat undecided on eBikes, however, I lean towards no, until they're categorized/defined correctly, e.g. pedal assisted motorcycle. I do think they could provide a huge benefit for certain situations such as using them to help carry/move trail tools and etc. On the downside I do think that from an environmental perspective more people accessing remote locations, especially novice and unappreciative/uneducated folks could be a bad thing. I tend to assume that once someone has built up a skill set to access remote areas they are also more mindful and appreciative of the sensitivity of those areas. (Obviously there are exceptions.) IMO, as a percent, a lay-person is more likely to do damage.

On the topic of "Getting more people on trails is always a good thing. People get passionate about recreational opportunities once they experience them.", do you really think ebikes are going to open the door for that many able-bodied people? (Disabled is a different topic.) A person with a basic level of fitness can do most 10 mile rides. If you don't have a basic level of fitness then go get it. Life is full of challenges and not everything should be convenient. Does that make me an elitist and exclusionary? I don't think so, but according to some it does. silly

edit: forgot to call myself "exclusionary"


9/7/2019 9:28 AM
Edited Date/Time: 9/7/2019 9:30 AM

Rest if the globe tolerate ebikes just fine, it is only North America bitching about them; they are pedals assist bikes first of all; You cannot ride them uphill without spinning the pedals!

They do allow to ride more after-all and have more fun

Voted - yes finally, since ebikes are absolutely ok in EU and people take advantage of them



9/10/2019 9:35 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/12/2019 6:34 AM

This is MUCH bigger than just National Parks. With one fell swoop, e-bikes are likely to be allowed on thousands of miles of BLM trails (but not just yet).

When this news hit we were deep in Eurobike and World Cup madness and unable to really dig into the topic and what it means, and you guys deserve a deeper look. It's all a bit confusing, but this should make sense of things for you.

The Secretary of the Interior outlined it all in Order No. 3376, Increasing Recreational Opportunities through the use of Electric Bikes.

It boils down to this: With a directive from the Secretary of the Interior, trails on federally managed land under the Department of the Interior that are currently open to MTB will likely be open to e-bikes within 30 days. This includes National Parks Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) lands. E-bikes are no longer to be classified as off-road vehicles or motorized vehicles on these lands.


BLM land, shown above in yellow, accounts for about 13% of the USA’s total land (roughly 245 million acres). National Park Service land is bright green. Note that this DOES NOT apply to US Forest Service lands and the USFS has no foreseeable plans to change their e-bike restrictions.

The Secretarial Order is actually a directive to each of the major land management agencies within the Department of the Interior to create new policies by September 12 that expand e-bike access.

In a FAQ section, People for Bikes, an entity that lobbied for the change, states, "In general, each agency is required to take two actions. They must first craft an interim policy to govern e-bike use on their lands, subject to the limits of any existing laws or regulations. Second, they must undertake a formal rulemaking process, subject to public notice and comment, to amend their regulations that govern e-bike use.

A more detailed timeline and steps each agency must take is provided below:

- By September 12, each agency must develop a new interim e-bike policy for that agency.
- By September 12, each agency must begin the process of developing a new proposed rule, subject to public notice and comment, to make more permanent changes to its regulations that govern e-bike use. Note that each agency is not required to release its proposed rule for public comment by this date – that will likely take longer.
- By September 28, each agency must report back to the Secretary of the Interior with respect to any policy changes it has implemented, any laws or regulations that have limited its ability to make policy changes, and a timeline for receiving public comments on the agency’s proposed rules.
- By September 28, each agency must provide public guidance regarding the use of e-bikes on the lands managed by each agency."

So far, only the National Parks Service has outlined their new e-bike policy, which will allow e-bikes wherever traditional bicycles are allowed within 30 days. The policy memorandum only applies to e-bikes, which are defined in the policy memorandum as "two- or three- wheeled cycles with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.) that provides propulsion assistance." They're allowing all three e-bike classes, even the throttle-assisted variety, and state that "except where use of motor vehicles by the public is allowed, using the electric motor to move an e-bike without pedaling is prohibited." Any specific e-bike rules for each National Park will be listed in the park compendium. Read more regarding National Park e-bike access here.

e-bike classes are defined as:

Class 1: e-bikes that are pedal-assist only, have no throttle, and a maximum assisted speed of 20mph.
Class 2: e-bikes that have a maximum speed of 20mph but are also throttle assisted.
Class 3: e-bikes that are pedal-assist only, do not have a throttle, and have a maximum speed of 28mph.

From the NPS, "Superintendents may restrict or impose conditions upon the use of e-bikes, or close locations to the use of e-bikes, after taking into consideration public health and safety, natural and cultural resource protection, and other management activities and objectives. If warranted by these criteria, superintendents may manage e-bikes, or particular classes of e-bikes, differently than traditional bicycles in particular locations. For example, a superintendent could determine that a trail open to traditional bicycles should not be open to e-bikes, or should be open to class-1 e-bikes only.

Will there be an opportunity for the public to comment on a park-by-park basis on whether to allow e-bikes? The policy memorandum provides superintendents with 30 days to implement these management actions and superintendents are encouraged to use this time to engage with stakeholders and visitors so that they understand where e-bikes will be allowed. Superintendents are encouraged to engage with the public prior to implementing the policy memorandum so that superintendents and park staff can better understand potential impacts to resources and visitors, support for, and controversy associated with, allowing e-bikes where traditional bicycles are allowed. The Secretary’s Order also directs the National Park Service to develop a proposed rule to revise regulations associated with bicycle use. Public comment will be sought during that rulemaking process."

So, what does this mean for BLM, Fish and Wildlife Service, and BOR lands? While National Parks offer just dozens of miles nationwide in the way of real MTB singletrack terrain, the BLM manages thousands of miles, primarily in the western half of the USA. Many popular trails in Salida, Fruita, Grand Junction, Moab, Gunnison, Black Canyon, and Hurricane are all BLM-managed, for example, and over one million mountain bikers ride BLM trails each year. Given the directive, it's very likely that quite a few trails are likely to open to e-bikes at some point in the not so distant future. Each agency will outline its plan by the end of September and open things to public comment, and the rules can be altered.

Locally this is throwing up the question of what will happen with city-managed trail areas that can be accessed via BLM trails. In many instances, multiple land managers cover portions of the same trail system. This move could force some local mangers to open up their trails as well.

Considering this is a hard 180 and e-bikes are no longer classified as motorized vehicles at National Parks and on BLM land, this is a wild and unexpected swing in the opposite direction. What are your thoughts? If you're near BLM trails, what is your community saying?

Vital will follow up with more details for each agency when available.


9/11/2019 7:13 AM

And, most importantly, the orders do not come with increased funding to these agencies, so federal managers are expected to do more with the same woefully inadequate budget. Maybe advocacy groups can take up the slack for trails maintenance, but I'm guessing that those folks too are caught flat-footed by this order. And so during the adjustment period (probably indefinite) where ebikes are phased in, the trails you love will see increased use and degradation. Write your representatives, telling them you want to see more federal staff to address increased use on BLM and DOI singletrack, and that those agencies need more funding for trails maintenance.


9/11/2019 7:21 AM

mossboss wrote:

And, most importantly, the orders do not come with increased funding to these agencies, so federal managers are expected to do ...more

I think the biggest marketing push they have currently is to get more people on trails. So Yes, there will be more people on trails. Depending on who you are, is good or bad.


9/11/2019 11:09 AM

Falcon wrote:

I don't want to post a link to that other website, but apparently the Secretary of the Interior has opened up e-bike access to ...more

Mark_Karlstrand wrote:

How about the question, "why now?"? Why did regulators, seemingly out of the blue, spend the limited time they have to allow ...more

Good question, but I tend to disbelieve conspiratorial motives. It could be the case, but remember that if the goal is to eliminate all forms of recreation, going through this particular exercise might be a lot of effort for dubious, unmeasurable results.


9/11/2019 12:04 PM

moped invasion coming to a trail near you


9/11/2019 12:22 PM
Edited Date/Time: 9/11/2019 12:44 PM

Related in terms of scale and surprise by opening public space to previously banned uses, Secretary Bernhardt and the Trump administration also expanded public access to hunting and fishing on 1.4 million acres nationwide. This means you can now hunt and/or fish at 77 national wildlife refuges and 15 national fish hatcheries.

Big changes.

Read more:


9/11/2019 12:41 PM

Big push for eebers to get involved in trail advocacy to parallel the growing numbers could cement expansion of legal bike trails. Its a numbers game so use the numbers


9/11/2019 1:30 PM

I just hope this brings them one step closer to letting normal mtb on to Wilderness designated Forest Service lands. Forest Service has been kicking that can down the road for a long time now..........wink


9/11/2019 1:34 PM

Most recent meeting with land managers, and one of those groups was from the "california state parks"....after an all day affair of P4B talking about the benefits of eMTB's, we broke out into some round table discussions. I was with Cal State Park group, he said, and i've said this on other forums:
"We have sat here all day, heard about how you are all going to sell more bikes, more people getting outside, all this is great, but-we didn't ask for this, we are under funded, under staffed and can't handle more people in the parks system" went into a very good discussion on HOW we as an industry can help, made for interesting conversation.


9/11/2019 2:00 PM

How to increase the funding for the land agencies seems to be a big concern. It is interesting that huge industries make money off of our parklands yet I am not sure how much they fund them. E-bikes are and will be nothing compared to the impact of side by sides. They have taken over Moab and they are loud and incredibly destructive (and probably a hell of a lot of fun!).

In 2011 I started 1% for the trails, a non-profit encouraging bike companies to donate 1% of their mtb related sales to the trails (anyway they wanted to, donate to various local trail groups like WORCA in Whistler or Trail Mix in Moab, directly to fund trail building, IMBA, Sustainable Trails Coalition (which didn't exist then), etc.). Unfortunately, my coaching business was the only company I could convince to join. Some companies did respond and say that they give that much or more but who knows.

Seems like consumers and small businesses (guiding and coaching) pay the bulk of the fees. The funding from just 1% of ATV, Dirt Bike and MTB sales would probably be greater than the entire BLM budget!


9/11/2019 8:24 PM

Falcon wrote:

I don't want to post a link to that other website, but apparently the Secretary of the Interior has opened up e-bike access to ...more

Mark_Karlstrand wrote:

How about the question, "why now?"? Why did regulators, seemingly out of the blue, spend the limited time they have to allow ...more

Falcon wrote:

Good question, but I tend to disbelieve conspiratorial motives. It could be the case, but remember that if the goal is to ...more

Yup, it seems more likely its just the bike industry trying to grow their market. The People For Bikes, the organization that appears to have lobbied for this seems run by bike industry execs from companies that sell e-bikes.


9/12/2019 12:08 AM

More and more they are the market. EMTB dominated euro bike. It seems people like them and are buying them so you have huge numbers. What are going to do now?


9/12/2019 6:56 AM

There is a funding solution to get more money to land managers with an increase in use. In the US, there is an "excise tax" paid by manufactures of certain kinds of hunting equipment and fishing tackle. It is a percentage of the sales price. The funds collected from the tax go to fund state and federal wildlife and wildland management agencies and related projects. Of course that tax really gets passed down to the consumer, but most hunters and anglers that I know are happy to pay it because they know the money goes to support and build a sport they love.

We could push for a similar tax on the sale of complete bicycles, frames, tires, tubes, and maybe other equipment to help fund trail management and building projects on state and federally owned lands. That way as participation increases, so does funding.


9/12/2019 7:02 AM

And bonus, the more we mountain bikers contribute funds to land managers, the more likely they will be to listen to our concerns, making not only better trails, but opening more access (maybe some wilderness?) I mean who would you rather appease, the bikers who pay you, or the hikers who only threaten to sue you? (There currently is no excise tax on hiking gear or equestrian related goods.)


9/12/2019 7:03 AM

Stiksandstones wrote:

Most recent meeting with land managers, and one of those groups was from the "california state parks"....after an all day ...more

This is really my concern with eBikes. More people out there, which is great, but that needs to be matched with more trails and resources to support the additional users. In my limited experience with eBikes, I have seen more inexperienced riders out there in both bike skills and trail etiquette. The latter is my biggest concern because this will cause conflicts with other users which may lead to more limited access...

Stiks, have industry folks every considered a 1% for trails concept/idea - in a similiar vein to 1% for the planet? I realize an organization like this would need a fair amount of overhead to effectively manage funds going land managers and trail crews but does something like this help turn increased sales into increased access?


9/12/2019 9:27 AM

MPH24 wrote:

This is really my concern with eBikes. More people out there, which is great, but that needs to be matched with more trails ...more

Shops can, and frankly already should, be informing customers about trail etiquette.

As for the industry donating 1%, read's post above.


9/29/2019 10:02 AM

Stiksandstones wrote:

Most recent meeting with land managers, and one of those groups was from the "california state parks"....after an all day ...more

MPH24 wrote:

This is really my concern with eBikes. More people out there, which is great, but that needs to be matched with more trails ...more

I think there are some brands that do better than most, at donating proceeds of revenue to trail work, advocacy,, this needs to be talked about more, especially with the eMTB topic-a lot of excitement about it, but few to none are doing anything on advocacy OR even TEACHING all these newbies how to ride. Bike skills training is a huge problem in our industry and few are doing anything---sell all these ebikes to newbies but not telling them how to ride them? say what?

Troy (my boss) proposed a sticker program to OC parks, pay $250 a year, to get an eMTB permit/sticker on your bike, that allows you access in the parks and with this fee, you also have to donate 10 hours of trail work. It has not gone anywhere, but, I know i'd pay $250 a year to ride in the OC parks (my local trail center) because I can't ride there legally currently.


10/3/2019 11:29 AM

As of October 3, there are no public updates from the BLM as far as I can find.

According to this article, National Parks are moving quickly, however, and several parks have opened to e-bikes on paths and roads previously open to traditional bikes. These include:

- Bryce Canyon
- Glacier
- Grand Teton
- Yellowstone
- Acadia
- Arches
- Canyonlands
- Natural Bridges
- Hovenweep
- Acadia - Class 1 eBikes only
- Golden Gate National Recreation Area - Pending public comment

Some notes:

"Bicycles and e-bikes are allowed on paved and unpaved roads that are open to the public. Bicycles and eBikes are not allowed on any trails in the parks," the Utah parks pointed out.

At Golden Gate, draft revisions to the park's compendium, the on-the-ground management guide for park officials, called for eBikes to be allowed "on all routes open to traditional bicycles, including certain designated trails and paths in Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties. The draft compendium lists trails and routes that would be open to e-bikes. Like traditional bikes, operators of eBikes may not ride off-trail." The park also noted that cyclists must observe speed limits of 15 mph in most places and 5 mph in high-congestion areas. Comments to the proposed change at Golden Gate are being accepted through October 28.

Superintendents in the parks retain the authority to adjust e-bike rules as needed.


10/5/2019 9:08 AM

Same news here Brandon-as in, no news haha. Sept 30 deadline has passed and i've heard nothing.