Exploring National Parks Just Got Easier with Ebikes
There are a total of 61 national parks in the United States, which includes not only historic and military parks, but also seashores and recreation sites. The vast landmass of these designated federal parks spans across 85 million acres. Remarkably, around 330 million individuals visit these protected areas each year.
Now, as of August 29th, even more people have the chance to discover these revered grounds, thanks to the introduction of ebikes!
Recently, Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed Order No. 3376, which classifies all ebikes as non-motorized vehicles on federal lands managed by the department. This groundbreaking decision allows ebikes to venture anywhere that human-powered bicycles are permitted.
This new policy marks a major victory for our advocates, as it aims to expand recreational opportunities for all Americans, especially those with physical limitations, while promoting the enjoyment of federal lands and waters.
In addition, Secretary Bernhardt emphasized that this decision simplifies and unifies the regulations surrounding ebikes. Previously, there was considerable uncertainty regarding the regulatory status and classifications of ebikes, leading to confusion regarding their use on various trails and parks. This ruling eliminates the inconsistencies and ensures that all three classes of ebikes (1, 2, and 3) can access these federal lands managed by the department. It’s important to note that the top speed for class 3 ebikes can reach 28 mph.
By opening up these lands to ebike riders, this policy provides countless individuals with the opportunity to experience nature in a way they may never have before. National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith further emphasizes that ebikes make bicycle travel more accessible and efficient, catering to those who had previously been deterred by physical fitness, age, disability, or convenience.
It’s no surprise that the ebike market has experienced rapid growth, with improved access playing a significant role. This new policy enhances accessibility while creating new possibilities for riders. It’s worth mentioning that Rad Power Bikes, a leading ebike company, has been recognized as the 63rd fastest-growing company in the U.S.
Advocates argue that allowing ebikes in National Parks could help alleviate car congestion, although some concerns remain regarding the potential increase in traffic from new riders.
Seth Giles, the owner/operator of Southern Utah Guiding, who utilizes RadRover and RadMini ebikes for tours and rentals around Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, expresses optimism about this positive development for his business. They have been planning new trips throughout the year, and while Zion may become busier with the influx of riders, the access to Bryce Canyon will bring forth exciting new opportunities.
In a letter to Deputy Director Smith
54 wilderness groups, including various horse-riding and conservation associations, express their concerns regarding the inclusion of ebikes in non-motorized trails. They argue that the introduction of any class of ebike would remove the essence of primitive outdoor activities and pose a threat to the management of all non-motorized trails. This is because the addition of speed to the natural experience would compromise the recreational opportunities offered.
The group raises another alarming point, highlighting the absence of an environmental impact study and the lack of a public comment period before implementing the policy. This absence of evaluation and consultation puts the potential consequences of the policy into question.
Interestingly, in British Columbia, Canada, B.C. Parks recently concluded that an influx of bike traffic can exert substantial pressure on delicate ecosystems and species. Consequently, they decided to halt the permission for Class 2 and 3 ebikes on their trails. This decision reinforces the notion that the effect of ebikes on the environment and wildlife needs to be thoroughly examined.
Secretary Bernhardt’s order instructs his agencies to provide appropriate public guidance within 30 days regarding the use of ebikes. Furthermore, he calls for the policy to be officially adopted within two weeks, specifically on September 12. This timing coincides with the popular activity of leaf peeping at Acadia, offering an interesting perspective on the policy’s potential impact on recreational experiences.