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January 20, 2023

Pennsylvania DCNR Finalizes E-Bike Policy for State Parks and Forests

By: Rachel Fussell, PeopleForBikes’ eMTB policy and program manager

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Electric bicycles will officially be allowed on trails already open to traditional bicycle usage on PA DCNR-managed lands.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) recently announced their final internal policy on the use of electric bicycles (e-bikes) on DCNR lands, effective immediately in state parks and forests. During the policy session, PeopleForBikes was eager to offer resources and information with our partners at the PA DCNR to help inform policy decisions around e-bike access in the state.

After receiving more than 640 public comments, the DCNR will allow e-bikes on trails already open to traditional bicycle usage on DCNR-managed lands, as long as e-bike users follow the guidelines consistent with the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. Under the final policy, an electric bicycle is a bicycle equipped with an electric motor that assists the rider when they are pedaling and must:

  • Weigh no more than 100 pounds
  • Not exceed 20 mph using the motor
  • Have a motor that does not exceed 750 watts
  • Have fully functional, operable pedals

E-bike users must also propel their e-bikes by pedaling on non-motorized trails — the use of throttle-only functionality is not permitted on non-motorized trails managed by the PA DCNR.

E-bikes make Pennsylvania state parks and forests more accessible to more people, including older individuals and those with physical limitations or medical conditions. The DCNR’s final policy expands such opportunities for healthy outdoor recreation while at the same time managing impacts on other visitors and on natural places.

Because other public lands in Pennsylvania (such as federal lands, local parks, and preserves) have different requirements related to e-bikes, users should check the guidelines for their destination before they go. The new policy only allows e-bikes to be used on DCNR-managed trails where traditional bikes are allowed. E-bikes will be allowed on DCNR-managed motorized trails and public-use roads unless they are marked as prohibited to bikes. Riders under the age of 16 are not permitted to ride e-bikes on state or local highways.

Bike trails found in Pennsylvania state parks feature a variety of sizes, terrain and scenic views. Currently, there are approximately 3,800 miles of state forest trails open to mountain biking, and of those, 447 miles within 11 state forests are specifically designated and maintained for mountain biking.

Want to learn more? The Pennsylvania DCNR created a printable fact sheet on biking in state parks and forests and plans to share this resource with bike shops, riding organizations, and state park and forest visitors.

Related Topics:

Recreational Bike AccessElectric Bikes
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