Federal agencies reaffirm support of e-bikes on public lands

This e-bike for rent from Bike Fiend is now allowed on BLM trails around Moab. Photo by Carter Pape

They’re already allowed in national parks as of Oct. 1, and now the Department of the Interior has announced its guidance to allow the use of low-speed electric bicycles at national wildlife refuges and other DOI-managed public lands where traditional biking occurs, expanding recreational opportunities and access to millions of Americans, according to a statement from the DOI.

A majority of states have adopted e-bike policies, which primarily have followed model legislation allowing for three classes of e-bikes to have access to bicycle trails. The DOI e-bike guidance seeks to provide consistency with the state and local rules where possible. “Millions of Americans want to bike on our public lands, and pedal-assist bikes can facilitate the effort of those whose age, fitness level or disability limits their interest. E-bikes can help make our parks, refuges and public lands accessible to them, providing opportunities to explore areas of the great outdoors that were previously unreachable,” said Secretary David Bernhardt. “Where possible and appropriate, we want to accommodate bicycling and the enjoyment of our public lands.”

Bernhardt’s order directs all federal public land management agencies and bureaus to begin the longer term process of obtaining public input on new regulations that will clarify that low-speed e-bikes should enjoy the same access as conventional bicycles, consistent with other federal and state laws. The Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation and the Bureau of Land Management joined the NPS, which already provided e-bike policy guidance. Superintendents and field managers will have the ability in the short term to utilize the flexibility they have under current regulations to accommodate this new technology that assists riders as they pedal in a way that allows them to enjoy the bicycling experience, according to the Interior Department.

For more information, the NPS, FWS, BLM, and USBR have created websites and online tools for the public to learn more about e-bikes, answer frequently asked questions, and provide updates on this policy and where e-bikes are allowed to be used on public lands.