“E-bikes are allowed where traditional bicycles are allowed”
Until August 30th, 2019 it was very confusing trying to work out if you could take your ebike into the US National Parks, and where you could cycle it once you were there. It all depended on which park it was, and what Class of ebike you owned. But the rules were in a state of flux anyway. Having spoken to a number of the National Parks in my research, it turned out that some were just about to amend their rules, and some were hanging fire to see how the market developed.
But now all that’s changed! I’ve just been researching this and I’ve got a quick answer for you, and then a longer explanation with some more details. Plus, a bit of a request from you.
Soooo, what’s the answer? Are ebikes allowed or aren’t they?
Answer: electric bikes are now allowed in National Parks wherever traditional bikes are
This is really exciting news. On August 30th, 2019, the US Dept of the Interior released a Policy Memorandum to all the Parks. It said that electric bikes are now allowed where traditional bikes are allowed.
You can find the full text of the memorandum here.
Let’s look at the details
First up, this is saying that wherever you’re allowed to take a standard non-electric bike, then you can also take an ebike. So, if you go to a Park where traditional bikes are allowed on the trails, then you can ride your electric bike there too.
This applies to your ebike whether it is Class 1, 2, or 3 (see the definitions at the foot of this page). Also whether it has two or three wheels. However, it must have a power rating of 750W or less.
Electric bikes are also allowed to be used on the Park roads (and other areas where motor vehicles are allowed). When you’re on these areas then you’re allowed to ride along on throttle power only (if you have that option), so no need to pedal. However, when you’re in cycling trails in the Parks, then you will need to use pedal-assist.
Just to clarify, Pedal-assist = pedaling along with the help of the electric motor. Throttle power = the electric motor is doing all the work and you’re not pedaling.
Now, bear in mind that this is a 4-page memo that means big changes at all of the National Park in the US. This will take time for each Park management team to digest, interpret, and implement (think of the signage changes alone!) So, please check up with the National Park that you intend to visit, before you commit to your trip, that you will be okay to cycle your ebike there.
You can check by:
- Going to the link here, select the State you’re going to and this will give you a link to the National Park you’re interested in
- Selecting Plan Your Visit / Things To Do / Bicycling for more information
- You can also scroll to the foot of their website page and you will find the contact details for the park: mailing address, phone number, contact form, and social media links
Electric Bike Ambassadors
There will undoubtedly be a lot of folks who are unhappy about this (as there is with any change that happens). The best way for us to get them on board is to be ambassadors for ebikes. Ride safely and courteously. Smile. Wave. Say Please. Say Thank You. Tell everyone you meet how much you love them.
The more we can show people that electric bikes are a force for good. That they can get more people off the couch and get them outdoors. That they can help people to lose weight, get fit and healthy… the more areas of our stunning natural environment that will be opened up to ebikes.
Now, go have fun exploring those National Parks.
Yours, in ecycling
Appendix 1: Types of ebikes
There are two main types of ebike: those that give you an extra boost as you pedal (pedal assist bikes) and bikes that supply all the power to move you along (throttle operated)
Federal law says that “Low-Speed Electric Bikes” are not motor vehicles and classifies them as:
Two or three-wheeled vehicles
Having fully operable pedals
Electric motor of less than 750W
Maximum speed on a paved level surface, powered solely by that motor, ridden by a person weighing 170 pounds, of less than 20mph
State laws are a mixed bag. Some have a special classification for electric bicycles and regulate them similarly to traditional bikes. However, some have no special classification for them and regulate them with a mixture of rules relating to mopeds or scooters.
If you want to go into more detail on State by State rules, take a look at this. This will give you a good understanding of the do’s and don’ts if you’re planning to use your ebike outside of the Park boundaries.
On top of the Federal and State rules, the BPSA (Bicycle Product Suppliers Association) has made great efforts to modernize and harmonize the electric bike laws. As part of this, they have devised a classification system, with three categories of ebike:
A pedal-assist bike with a motor that cuts out when the bike reaches 20mph
A throttle operated bike that has a maximum speed of 20mph
A pedal-assist bike with a motor that cuts out at 28mph
All of these bikes must have a maximum power output of 750W. Class 1 and 2 bikes can be ridden anywhere traditional bikes can. Class 3 bikes can be ridden anywhere traditional bikes can, with the exception of slower speed areas, such as multi-use paths. Class 3 bikes have a minimum rider age of 16 years and you must wear a suitable helmet.