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The U.S. Forest Service Announces Plans to extend the E bike trail access

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The definition of a bicycle in the Forest Service Manual would now read as follows: “A pedal driven, solely human-powered device with two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other” In explaining its rationale for changing its position on access, the Forest Service announced the ability of e-bikes to “expande recreational opportunities for many people, particularly the elderly and disabled, enabling them to enjoy the outdoors and the associated health benefits”

This video first appeared on Bikemag.com and was released with permission.

The U.S. Forest Service, which manages 193 million acres of land and many of the country’s best mountain bike trails, became the latest federal agency to publicly state its intentions to expand access for e-bikes last week. The proposed changes, announced in the Federal Register on Sept. 24, are basically providing the way for local jurisdictions to individually manage each trail in their travel plans, while more precisely defining the three e-bike classes and further distinguishing them from traditional mountain bikes — a possible gateway to permit Class 1 e-bikes on non-motorized trails.

The debate over access to e-bikes on forest service trails has grown for years, but electric motors have remained banned on non-motorized routes until now. In April, a lawsuit filed by the Tahoe National Forest in which land managers reported illegally allowing electronic bikes on local trails was dismissed after the agency removed the incorrect phrase from its website. Bike closure signs are commonly located at the Trailheads of the Forest Service.

Now, as part of the proposed changes, the definition of a bicycle in the Forest Service Manual would read: “A pedal-driven, solely human-powered device, with two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other”

In explaining its rationale to change its position on access, the Forest Service announced the ability of e-bikes to “expand recreational opportunities for many people, particularly the elderly and disabled, enabling them to enjoy the outdoors and associated health benefits.” The big question for mountain bikers is however whether the increase in entry-level access will also lead to an increase in motor-powered descents of high-alpine singletracks.

A Monday call to a spokeswoman of the Forest Service went unturned.

Public comments, including anonymous comments, are available here until 26 October.

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