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Federal Policies

This page is a resource on federal electric bicycle access information and policies. Be sure to also check out these great routes to ride your electric bicycle.

PeopleForBikes position on electric bicycles on federal lands

 

Department of Interior (DOI)

  • Policy Summary: Aug. 29, 2019: Department of Interior Secretary David Bernhardt ordered the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service to establish interim policies, consistent with existing regulations, within 30 days that guide the use of electric bicycles on public lands. The departments were encouraged to adopt a policy that allows Class 1, 2 and 3 electric bicycles to be ridden where traditional bicycles are allowed. Over the longer term, each agency will issue revised regulations governing the use of electric bicycles. Those rulemaking processes will be subject to public comment.
  • Policy Documents: Secretarial Order #3376
    Additional Resources:
  • DOI Press Release
  • DOI Electric Bicycle Policy FAQ (source: PeopleForBikes)
  • Spreadsheet of federal electric bicycle policies by DOI agency (source: PeopleForBikes)
  • Graphic explaining DOI’s electric bicycle policy announcements (source: PeopleForBikes)
  • Map view of federal electric bicycle policies by DOI agency (This map comes from a third party source – eBikesHQ. Please refer to the above PeopleForBikes spreadsheet for the most up to date policy information).

National Park Service (NPS)

  • Policy Summary: Aug. 30, 2019: The NPS announced that electric bicycles may be used in the same manner as traditional bicycles, allowing them on park roads, paved or hardened trails, areas designated for off-road motor vehicle use and administrative roads where traditional bikes are allowed. Electric bicycles are not allowed in wilderness areas and individuals may not operate an electric bicycle if the motor can be used to propel the rider without pedaling, except in locations that are open to motor vehicle traffic.
  • NPS Superintendents had 30 days following the agency’s announcement to either amend their Compendium with an electric bicycle policy that considers the safety, resource protection and local requirements of their community, or to adopt the electric bicycle policy as stated in the NPS’ announcement.
  • Electric bicycle riders should check with their local national park before riding to ensure that no restrictions have been imposed.
  • Policy Documents: Interim Policy (Policy Memorandum 19-01) | Rulemaking Schedule
  • Additional Resources: NPS Press Release | NPS Electric Bicycle Information Page

Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)

  • Policy Summary: Oct. 17, 2019: The FWS has permitted Class 1, 2, and 3 electric bicycles to be used in areas where traditional bicycles are allowed. Bicycles must be operated in pedal-assist mode and they will not be considered “off-road vehicles” or “motor vehicles.” Electric bicycles are prohibited where bicycles are prohibited. Individual wildlife refuges or FWS lands may place additional restrictions on electric bicycle use. Local refuge managers must ensure that electric bicycle access is compatible with the purposes of that unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System, and may restrict electric bicycle access if it is incompatible or inconsistent with those purposes. In addition, local refuge managers may restrict electric bicycle access if the manager determines that there is a risk to public safety. The public must be notified of any restrictions.
  • Electric bicycle riders should check with their local wildlife refuge before riding to ensure that no restrictions have been imposed.
  • Policy Documents: Interim Policy (Director’s Order #222) | Rulemaking Schedule
  • Additional Resources: FWS Press Release | Electric Bicycle Information Page

Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

  • Policy Summary: Oct. 22, 2019: The BLM will be implementing Secretarial Order 3376 in concert with local land managers. BLM District or Field Managers have been instructed to authorize the use of Class 1, 2, and 3 electric bicycles where other types of bicycles are allowed. However, District and Field Managers may restrict electric bicycle access based on local conditions, which include natural and cultural resources, potential user conflicts, and the laws, regulations, and policies of adjacent jurisdictions regarding electric bicycle use. Additional actions by local land managers are required before electric bicycles may be ridden on non-motorized trails. The BLM’s electric bicycle FAQ document instructs users that “electric bicycles should not be used on a trail or road that is currently limited to non-OHV or non-motorized use only, unless a BLM District or Field Manager issues a decision authorizing their use in accordance with applicable law.”
  • Electric bicycle riders should check with their local BLM office to confirm whether a trail is open to electric bicycles.
  • Policy Documents: Interim Policy (Informational Bulletin 2020-003) | Public Guidance and FAQ | Rulemaking Schedule
  • Additional Resources: BLM Press Release | Electric Bicycle Information Page

Bureau of Reclamation (BOR)

  • Policy Summary: Oct. 22, 2019: The BOR asked its Regional Directors to designate areas that are open to electric bicycles. Under BOR’s interim policy, electric bicycles will continue to be considered “off-road vehicles” as defined in 43 C.F.R. 420.5(a). Utilizing existing BOR procedures that apply to “off-road vehicles,” BOR’s Regional Directors will examine areas where traditional bicycles are already allowed and then designate areas as open to electric bicycles if that use is appropriate. Regional Directors may restrict electric bicycle use after taking into account public health and safety, natural and cultural resource protection, and other management activities and objectives consistent with laws that apply to those issues. Electric bicycle riders should check with their nearest local office in order to determine if a specific location or trail has been opened to electric bicycle use.
  • Policy Documents: Interim Policy (Reclamation Manual Policy, Recreation Program Management, LND P04) | Public Guidance and FAQ | Rulemaking Schedule
  • Additional Resources: BOR Press Release 

Department of Agriculture - Forest Service

  • Policy Documents: U.S. Forest Service finalized electric bicycle guidance can be found here.
  • Policy Summary: March 31, 2022: The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) finalized guidance for electric bicycle access on National Forest System (NFS) trails and grasslands. The guidance largely reflects the USFS’s 2020 proposed directives for electric bicycle access: Electric bicycles will remain classified as motor vehicles but local land managers can now recategorize trails from nonmotorized to motorized to allow electric bicycle and e-mountain bike access. The finalized guidance answers our call for local land managers to determine electric bicycle access by the three class system, but fails to go far enough on reclassifying electric bicycles as nonmotorized. Specifically, this new guidance will: 1) Establish new criteria for designating Class 1, 2 and 3 electric bicycles on National Forest System trails, roads and lands. 2) Create specific criteria for designation of motor vehicle use on trails and guidance for designated electric bicycle use on trails. This includes an additional category (Trails Open to Electric Bicycles Only) to identify classes of motor vehicles on a motorized vehicle use map and 3) Add an objective to consider emerging technologies, such as electric bicycles, that are changing the way people access and recreate on NFS lands.
  • Additional Resources:
  • The San Juan National Forest allows Class 1 electric bicycles on 13 miles of non-motorized singletrack trail between the Purgatory ski area (Durango, Colo.) and a motorized trail. The management decision for the Hermosa Watershed Recreation and the Hermosa Watershed Management Plan provides more information
  • Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort has approval from the U.S. Forest Service to allow Class 1 eMTBs on its 80-mile trail system. Here is an educational PDF on trail access and our webinar (7/19/18) on the topic goes into more detail.
  • In May 2021, the Tahoe National Forest (TNF) completed an Environmental Assessment (EA) for the East Zone Connectivity Project. The decision from the EA changed trail designation from “non-motorized” to “motorized” in order to expand access for Class 1 electric bicycles on 35 additional miles of trails in TNF. Trails that now allow electric bicycles include the Commemorative Overland Emigrant Trail, the Sawtooth Trail, the Big Chief Trail and the Donkey Town Trail. A complete map of the electric bicycle trails in the Truckee Ranger District can be found here.

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