NPS and BLM Announce E-MTB Rulemaking

NPS, BLM E-bIke Rules Announced

Today, April 2, 2020, two federal agencies under the Department of the Interior announced their proposed rules governing the use of electric mountain bikes. Their publication in the Regulations.gov (expected in the coming days) will start a 60 day comment period. NPS details are at https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=NPS_FRDOC_0001-0136

The National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management were required to update their regulations to accommodate e-bikes under the Secretary of the Interior’s order 3376. That order directed agencies to create a clear and consistent e-bike policy on all federal lands managed by the Department. The rule would also support Secretary’s Order 3366, to increase recreational opportunities on federal lands.

“The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposes to amend its off-road vehicle regulations at 43 CFR part 8340 to add a definition for electric bikes (e-bikes) and, where certain criteria are met and an authorized officer expressly determines through a formal decision that e-bikes should be treated the same as non-motorized bicycles, expressly exempt those e-bikes from the definition of off-road vehicles.”

In our initial reading of the BLM’s draft rule and the NPS draft rule, there are few surprises.  They generally encourage local unit managers to allow electric bikes, used only in pedal-assist mode, to be ridden anywhere bicycles are allowed.  They allow local unit Superintendents to open or close trails to e-bikes on a case-by-case basis, with the preference being open.

“The proposed rule would direct authorized officers to generally allow, through subsequent decision-making, Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes whose motorized features are being used as an assist to human propulsion on roads and trails upon which mechanized, non-motorized use is allowed, where appropriate. The authorization for Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes whose motorized features are being used as an assist to human propulsion to be used on roads and trails upon which mechanized, non-motorized use is allowed, would be included in a land-use planning or implementation-level decision.”

The proposed rules define and allow for the use of class 1, 2 and 3 e-bikes, much the same as the classes enacted in California state legislation AB1096. Similar classes have been advocated for around the country by People for Bikes and the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association (who have now merged).

The rule removes electric bikes–only while ridden in pedal-assist mode for Class 2 and 3–from the classification of OHV or motorized vehicle.  Presumably then a Class 2 or 3 e-bike ridden without pedaling and by throttle control is still considered motorized, though this isn’t explicitly stated.

The BLM and National Park Service rules have not yet been published on Regulations.gov, which will start their 60 day comment period. Once published in the coming days, to provide your own comments go to regulations.gov, search for: NPS Rule RIN 1024-AE61, or the BLM rule: RIN 1004-AE72. Follow the instructions there to provide your comments. They request information from the public on the potential social and physical impacts of e-bike use on public lands, and will give much more weight to “substantive” comments citing studies, legislation, reports, or other items of substance.

In CORBA’s territory we don’t have US Fish and Wildlife Service lands, but that agency is also updating their e-mtb rules. Their draft rules will be available for comment under Docket Number: FWS-HQ-MB-2019-0109, also from regulations.gov.

Once we’ve had a chance to review the NPS and BLM rules and discuss it with our members and MTB advocacy groups, we’ll post our analysis and our comments for review.

In the meantime, we encourage everyone interested to weigh in with your own comments.

 

 

2 Responses to “NPS and BLM Announce E-MTB Rulemaking”

  1. Jason says:

    Really interested to see how this pans out. We are now about a week past the “comments period”.

  2. Francisco says:

    Where did we pan out actually? I called the rangers about using an e-bike on the fire roads in the Santa Monica Mountains. They said it wasn’t allowed, however the NPS.gov says different. Curious how If printing out the website and keeping it with me would help my case should i be stopped.

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