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  1. #1

    Default Electric bicycles soon to be in National Parks, Forests, BLM lands?

    This may be old news, but I just caught this today, a current administration order will allow electric bikes (E-Bikes) onto trails in National Parks, Forests, and BLM properties. Wilderness areas are a little hazy under this order, but I suspect the worst from this.

    These machines are capable of speeds exceeding 25mph, which given the ease of operation won't take long to wander off of "appropriate trails" and bike routes onto foot paths. The ATC, PCT, and other conservation organizations are raising concerns pointing out the administration is changing the nature of National Parks and other areas without any study or public comment.

    According to the order, E-Bikes are able to use any trail open to bicycles and/or horses. I cannot imagine what mayhem a fast moving powered vehicle will produce with horses, since the presence of a slow moving hiker is enough to make many of them skittish. While this may sound agreeable on first glance, it opens up the high probability these machines will likely extend to use on foot trails. There has been a growing effort in the continued push by the mountain biking community to allow mountain bikes on all trails, the entire PCT for example, who will use ticketing and enforcement measures of these things as a legal platform to challenge exclusionary rules. It's also seen by many as the fuel powered vehicle camels nose getting under the tent.

    Given the history of this issue, I am hoping for a positive outcome for the National Parks and the hiking community overall.

  2. #2
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Potentially, very sad. I'll remain optimistic that what the effect will be is that E-bikes will ONLY be allowed on existing bike-legal trails, which is still bad because undoubtedly existing bike trails will probably become more crowded, with unfit people now using them. We'll see.
    Last edited by colorado_rob; 08-31-2019 at 11:01.

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    E-Bikes will be allowed in GSMNP then as it does allow horses.

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    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    I say allow them in certain areas - like the trail up to Mount Washington. I barely made it up there myself, so an E-bike has the potential of providing endless entertainment on those type of trails. Another possibility is Mahoosuc Notch.
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    1. I am surprised they can change the regulations that govern the trails without public comment.

    2. Both human-powered mountain bikes and horses can travel at 25mph or more.

    3. Snow mobiles are allowed on some trails in some national parks. Likewise, motor boats are allowed in some national park lakes/rivers.

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    Even if authorized it will be on selective trails ...but we know how that legally tends to develop.

  7. #7

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    On a positive note, it may provide more access to the outdoors for people with disabilities. It’s not only the “unfit” using E bikes.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Portie View Post
    1. I am surprised they can change the regulations that govern the trails without public comment.

    2. Both human-powered mountain bikes and horses can travel at 25mph or more.

    3. Snow mobiles are allowed on some trails in some national parks. Likewise, motor boats are allowed in some national park lakes/rivers.
    I would think a rule change like this would be openly done and seek public and Agency comment as was the norm. Apparently that's no longer how things are done which will be handy for fossil fueled timber interests. I am less concerned with yahoos taking Ebikes onto footpaths than the startling erosion of the processes design to protect NPs.

  9. #9

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    I don't see the problem here. These aren't all electric bikes that don't require human power - it's an assist function only. And they'd still be subject to the same restrictions placed on bicycles in general, so you shouldn't see them in places that bicycles weren't already present. No added noise, just the ability for people to get a little farther than they might otherwise have done without a little boost.

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    Terrible idea. A motor vehicle is a motor vehicle whether powered by gasoline or electricity. As an added problem, making it “easier” to get to remote areas will have the side effect of people with less survival skills getting in over their heads.

  11. #11

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    Lol, the assumptions about who uses E bikes is ridiculous. Riding an E bike does not mean the rider is “unfit” or has “less survival skills”.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Coffee View Post
    Terrible idea. A motor vehicle is a motor vehicle whether powered by gasoline or electricity. As an added problem, making it “easier” to get to remote areas will have the side effect of people with less survival skills getting in over their heads.
    This is -not- a motor vehicle. It's a simple assist function that requires the cyclist to be pedaling.

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    It is a motor vehicle. Period. Most e bikes can move just fine without any pedaling whatsoever, many at speeds in excess of 20 mph.

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    To clarify - there are multiple classes of e-bikes. Yes, some of them can run on electric power only. However, the law in question specifically requires them not to do so. When used on public lands they are required to operate in assist mode only.

    https://electrek.co/2019/09/02/elect...ational-parks/

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    There is no way you can enforce that.

  17. #17

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    There's no way you can enforce a lot of rules, but you're getting upset about people potentially breaking rules. Guess what? That's an issue across the board with all sorts of rules. If you want to be upset, at least try to do so about a real problem when it actually occurs.

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    Lol, it is completely unenforceable unlike many rules that can be enforced. Most of these e bikes have throttles and try proving that people are exerting effort pedaling. You can’t.

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    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    Lol, the assumptions about who uses E bikes is ridiculous. Riding an E bike does not mean the rider is “unfit” or has “less survival skills”.
    Not sure about "survival skills", but I would bet 100-1 that there is a strong correlation between lack of fitness and the use of an E-bike on established hiking trails. I'm not knocking it, good for them, I only lament it, from a purely selfish standpoint, that such trails will, indeed become more crowded being opened up to E-bikes. On the other hand, in 10-15 years, maybe sooner, I will be happy for this change.

  20. #20

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    I see these every day on a rails-to-trail in Seattle. Large numbers of older adults are using them to commute to work and back, at high speeds. Generally, these e-bikes are 30-50% of the bike traffic. Then add the motorized scooters, the large wheel thingie with footpegs, self balance scooter boards, and segways, and you've got motorized mayhem for pedestrians. It's become dangerous to take a walk on once-quiet bike trails.

    I filed a complaint with the local city government, since the first rule of the bike path is "No Motorized Vehicles". But not much interest from them ... at least until a child is greased by a big goober biking at 30 mph, unable to change course or stop.

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