BTNF clarifies rules about electric bicycles
Allowed only on roads and motorized trails on the Bridger-Teton National Forest
by Bridger-Teton National Forest
June 28, 2016
Recent occurrences involving people riding electrical bikes or e-bikes on non-motorized trails have prompted Bridger-Teton National Forest officials to clarify where the use of this new form of bicycling is allowed. The Bridger-Teton National Forest has several opportunities for e-bikes across the Forest though by definition, e-bikes have a motor propelled by electric power rather than human power, therefore, are classified as a motor vehicle. As with all motor vehicle travel, e-bikes are allowed only on roads and motorized trails shown on motor vehicle use maps.
Motor Vehicle Use Maps are available at www.fs.usda.gov/main/btnf/maps-pubs or at any Ranger District office.
Electric bikes are a new and promising alternative form of urban transportation and potentially trail riding. E-bikes can make biking more accessible to a segment of the population who do not currently use bicycles. Electric bikes or e-bikes are also evolving with more power and less weight each year. The evolving technology is quickly closing the gap between an electric bicycle and an electric motorcycle. As is true with any new technology, recreationists need to ensure they understand where new forms of recreational equipment can be legally used. E-bikes are capable of greater speeds compared with traditional mountain bikes, blurring the line between motorized and non-motorized forms of recreation. This creates concerns about safety and conflict on non-motorized trails shared with horses, hikers, kids, and dogs. Forest Supervisor Tricia O'Connor said, "At a time when we are working with many partners to respond to growing recreation use and provide quality outdoor experiences, opportunities for e-bikes need to be provided in locations where the use is appropriate for the desired setting and the potential for conflict can be minimized."
"E-bikes are managed as motor vehicles under our Travel Management Rule," said O'Connor. She noted that many opportunities for the use of e-bikes exist under the Travel Management Rule including
travel on all roads open to all vehicles, all trails open to vehicles, all trails open to vehicles 50" or less and all trails designated for motorcycles only. Trails designated for motorcycle use provide particularly attractive options for e-bike use due to the single-track design of these trails.
Questions have also been raised about the use of e-bikes as an assistive device for people with disabilities. The only motor vehicle exception for a person with a disability is the use of a device that meets both parts of the legal definition of a wheelchair or mobility device under the American Disability Act (ADA). Under the ADA definition, any device that is both designed solely for mobility for a person with disability and which is suitable for use in an indoor pedestrian area may be used where foot and other forms of non-motorized travel are allowed. E-bikes are not designed solely for people with disabilities and their use in an indoor pedestrian area would be unfit at the time. Therefore, e-bikes do not qualify for exception and may only be used where allowed by the Motor Vehicle Use Map.
For more information, visit the Forest Website at www.fs.fed.us/r4/btnf. For additional information, contact the Bridger-Teton National Forest at (307) 739-5500.