Contrary to what you may have heard, it is okay to bring and use eBikes in National Parks.
It wasn't always so. When eBikes first started showing up in National Parks, they were not always welcome.
Each park seemed to have its own rules.
There were some unpleasant confrontational between eBike riders and park rangers.
And with a lot of eBike users, word spread that National Parks somehow prohibited their use.
A new policy for eBikes in National Parks has just passed!
The new policy just went into effect on December 2, 2020, though because of all the bad news and concerns over COVID and travel restrictions, it hasn't received much attention.
So let's be loud and clear on this!
eBikes in National Parks are Okay!
The National Park Service (NPS) has been taking about easing restrictions since the fall of 2019. But we have the final regulation governing the use of ebikes in units of the National Park System in our hot little hands, as published in the Federal Register on November 2, 2020
They became effective on December 2, 2020
Let me quote directly from the document. I'd say it constitutes a running endorsement of eBikes in National parks.
What the NPS says about eBikes in National Parks
Similar to traditional bicycles, the NPS believes that, with proper management, the use of ebikes may be an appropriate activity in many park areas.
Specifically, the policy cites the following benefits of allowing the use of eBikes in National Parks:
- Ebikes advance the NPS's ‘Healthy Parks Healthy People' goals to promote national parks as a health resource.
- Increase bicycle access to and within parks. Ebikes make bicycle travel easier and more efficient because they allow bicyclists to travel farther with less effort.
- Ebikes can expand the option of bicycling to more people by providing a new option for those who want to ride a bicycle but might not otherwise do so because of physical fitness, age, or convenience, especially at high altitudes or in hilly or strenuous terrain.
- When used as an alternative to gasoline- or diesel-powered modes of transportation, ebikes can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption, improve air quality, and support active modes of transportation for park staff and visitors. Similar to traditional bicycles, ebikes can decrease traffic congestion, reduce the demand for vehicle parking spaces, and increase the number and visibility of cyclists on the road.
What kind of eBikes in National Parks are allowed?
The policy defines an e-bike as “a two- or three-wheeled cycle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts that provides propulsion assistance.”
Those are pretty much the same “street legal” eBikes defined and allowed by most states.
Such eBikes should not exceed 20 miles an hour when being solely powered by the motor.
The National Park Services says park superintendents will retain the right to limit, restrict, or impose conditions of bicycle use and e-bike use in order to ensure visitor safety and resource protection.
That just is common sense.
eBikes in National Parks are now treated like regular bicycles
Now there are areas in almost all National Parks that are closed to bicycles. Certain trails are for hiking only, with no bicycle traffic allowed.
To make it absolutely clear that the National Parks Service does not discriminate against electric bicycles in any way.
The policy statement specifically says:
“ebikes are allowed where traditional bicycles are allowed and that e-bikes are not allowed where traditional bicycles are prohibited”
And then, just in case there is any confusion, it repeats that statement with a few more details a few paragraphs down the regulation document:
“This rule states that e-bikes may be allowed on roads, parking areas, administrative roads and trails that are open to traditional bicycles.”
EBikes are so much fun
You can check out our video review below (Hint: We love them!).
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Let's sum this up a final time
At the risk of repeating myself, I want to forever dispel the lingering urban myths that many still cling to regarding eBike use in National Parks.
Maybe they were discouraged and prohibited in the past.
But the past is over.
eBikes are now very welcome in National Parks.
As you can see from our video above, we found using the bikes a welcome addition to our RV camping trips.
Safety information and Frequently Asked Questions are on the Electric Bicycles (e-bikes) in National Parks website.
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