You are here

Deadline is Monday for feedback on e-bike access on non-motorized trails

Published June 8, 2020

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — Public comment periods begin ending Monday, June 8, for the U.S. Department of Interior's policy proposal to regulate e-bikes as traditional bikes on non-motorized lands.

The standard review lasts 60 days for the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Reclamation. The agencies then will review all comments and decide if the proposal becomes federal regulation and/or if changes are needed, effective 30 days after being published in the Federal Register.

A NPS spokesperson told BRAIN on Monday that it's too early to predict how the comment period will affect implementation.

PeopleForBikes, which supports the proposal, told BRAIN the comments so far are "about 50/50 pro/con" and expects a final decision within about 60 days.

If approved, the NPS, BLM, FSW and BR will regulate Class 1 and 3 e-bikes the same as traditional bikes, but each park superintendent would have final say-so as to where and if they can be used. Class 1 e-bikes are pedal-assist with the motor turning off at 20 mph. Class 3 are pedal-assist with the motor turning off at 28 mph. Class 2, throttle-assist with 20 mph maximum speed, would not be allowed on non-motorized trails.

According to the NPS, the proposal will "define the term 'electric bicycle' and allow superintendents to provide for e-bike use in a similar manner to the current e-bike policy. ... The intent of this action is to address an emerging technology in a manner that accommodates visitors and increases opportunities for the public to recreate within and travel through the National Park System, while at the same time protecting the resources and values that draw millions of visitors each year."

The policy proposal in August allowed e-bikes access to non-motorized trails 30 days afterward and led to a lawsuit filed in December against the NPS. The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and a coalition of conservation groups are the primary plaintiffs.

The suit says Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Deputy NPS Director P. Daniel Smith regularly met in private with an industry-dominated advisory committee at Interior headquarters and through conference calls. The suit says the meetings violate the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which requires transparency to prevent secret lobbying.

PEER senior counsel Peter T. Jenkins told BRAIN in April that the lawsuit was moving forward, with the NPS administrative record due this month and legal briefing following.

PeopleForBikes is urging industry comment on the four agencies, taking "10 minutes to submit comments on behalf of your business."

National Park Service

Fish and Wildlife Service

Bureau of Land Management

Bureau of Reclamation

To read short summaries of each rule-making, go to PFB's federal e-bike rule-making webpage.

Topics associated with this article: Electric bike, Advocacy/Non-profits

Join the Conversation