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May 20, 2020

E-Bike Pilot Programs Can Inform Data-Driven Policy Making

By: Ashley Seaward, deputy director of state + local policy

Two riders on a trail
Two riders on a trail

On Thursday, May 14, PeopleForBikes hosted an industry webinar, Using pilot programs to navigate e-bike use on the trail, where both members of the bike industry and land managers learned more about the use of e-bike pilot programs to inform data-driven e-bike management decisions.

The growth of e-bike use has expedited the need for more sensible land management regulations around e-bikes nationally, leaving land managers questioning how they can govern this new technology in a way that best suits the needs of the community and natural resources. PeopleForBikes’ 2020 E-Bike Land Manager Survey found that of the 40 land managers surveyed, 30% have struggled to implement an e-bike policy due to a lack of data on the potential impacts or benefits e-bikes may have on trails (additional survey results can be found below). This need for data motivated PeopleForBikes to develop resources, including the webinar, to help land managers design and implement e-bike pilot programs around the country.

E-bike pilot programs are temporary programs (ranging from 6-12 months) that allow land managers to “test out” e-bikes on designated trails within their park systems. This “test” is traditionally complemented with a trail visitor survey that measures visitors’ perceptions of e-bikes on the trail and how the presence of e-bikes affected their overall trail experience. At the end of the test period, land managers are provided with data on the social and physical implications of e-bike use on local trails. This data can then guide land managers as they work to develop an e-bike policy that reflects the needs of their park and local community.

PeopleForBikes understands that because e-bikes are a new technology, it will take time to understand and integrate their usage. That is why we serve as a resource on e-bike management issues to agencies seeking to provide the highest benefit to both the land they manage and its users. We have assisted a variety of agencies in designing pilot programs that meet their needs and inform sound policy development.

To learn more about e-bike pilot programs, check out our E-Bike Pilots On Public Lands guide or contact PeopleForBikes Regulatory & Policy Analyst, Ashley Seaward at for more information.

PeopleForBikes 2020 Land Manager E-Bike Survey Results: PeopleForBikes surveyed 40 land managers to understand their current relationship with e-bikes and what challenges they have faced in developing an e-bike policy.

Of the 40 responses, the majority of land managers stated that they: 

  • Represent a federal agency.
  • Know a lot about e-bikes.
  • Get asked about e-bikes on a monthly basis.
  • Are in the process of adopting an e-bike policy and have struggled to do so.
  • Find that developing an e-bike policy is difficult because there is a lack of data on trail impacts and users’ perceptions and that e-bike policies differ between state, local and federal agencies.
  • Have not considered conducting an e-bike pilot program.
  • Would like to see more environmental and social data on eMTBs and an increase in trail etiquette education before making any policy decision.
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