Background

Federal land management agencies that regulate the use of electric bicycles (e-bikes) on motorized and non-motorized trails (the U.S. Forest Service – within the U.S. Department of Agriculture – the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Reclamation – within the U.S. Department of the Interior) have historically defined e-bikes as motor vehicles. These are long standing laws that do not recognize what a modern day, low speed e-bike is and does.

Many of these agencies are beginning to recognize that e-bikes are more similar to bicycles than motor vehicles and make bicycle travel easier and more efficient for a wide variety of people. As a result, four agencies – the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Reclamation – have proposed new rules that generally would:

  • Remove e-bikes from the definition of a motor vehicle in each agency’s respective regulations.
  • Provide local land managers with authority to permit e-bikes in non-motorized areas.
  • Afford operators of e-bikes the same access as those riding a traditional bicycle.
  • Allow land managers greater flexibility to manage e-bikes at the local level.

This is a landmark moment to update federal laws to recognize current e-bike technology and increase recreation and transportation opportunities for e-bike riders. PeopleForBikes supports the initiative that these agencies are taking to make these regulatory improvements and the opportunity for the bike industry, retailers, advocates, partner groups and riders to comment.

 

How to Comment

Each agency has its own process for commenting and its own proposed rule (though the rules are generally similar in their effect). We encourage everyone to submit comments to each agency. Use this site as a guide to understand these proposed rules and be involved in the public comment process.

  • There are four agencies soliciting comments on their proposed rules. If you would like to provide comments to all four, you must provide four individual comments.
  • PeopleForBikes has drafted sample letters for you to submit using the links below. You are welcome to edit the letters and provide any stories, data or anecdotes that are specific to your comments.
  • Details of each proposed rule are outlined below.
  • Each agency is providing 60 days to comment.
  • If you provide a comment not through PeopleForBikes, you must reference the Regulation Identifier Number (RIN) for each proposed rule and the agency you are providing a comment to.

Commenting guidelines:

    • Be respectful, specific and concise.
    • Explain the reason for any changes you recommend. 
    • Where possible, reference the specific section or paragraph of the proposed rule that you are addressing. 
    • If possible, provide quantitative information or studies to support your comments and recommendations, and include citations to, and analyses of, the applicable laws and regulations.

 

National Park Service

Summary of the proposed rule:

  • Revises 36 CFR 1.4 to add a definition of e-bikes consistent with 15 U.S.C. 2085 and define the three classes of e-bikes.
  • Excludes e-bikes from the definition of motor vehicle.
  • Allows Superintendents to designate roads and trails that are open to bicycles as open to e-bikes. E-bikes would only be allowed in areas that have been designated by the Superintendent.
  • Requires that e-bike riders comply with the laws that apply to bicycle riders.
  • Prohibits the possession of an electric bicycle in designated wilderness.
  • Allows Superintendents to limit or restrict e-bike use after taking into consideration public health and safety, natural and cultural resource protection and other management activities and objectives.
  • Prohibits the throttle-only use of an e-bike in non-motorized areas (i.e., the e-bike rider must be pedaling at all times). Throttle-only power would be allowed in areas open to motor vehicles.

Commenting:

  • There are two ways to submit comments:
    • Electronically: Follow the instructions in the Federal eRulemaking Portal.
    • By hard copy: Mail or hand deliver to: Jay Calhoun, Regulations Program Manager, National Park Service, 1849 C Street NW, MS-2472, Washington, DC 20240.
  • Regulation Identifier Number (RIN): 1024-AE61
  • Comments on the proposed rule must be received by June 8, 2020.
  • Industry template letter for comments. Note that this is a template, and there are sections that require you, as the business owner, to fill out with your personalized information and business details. Submit this letter per the instructions above.
  • PeopleForBikes’ formal comments on the proposed rule

Bureau of Land Management

Summary of the proposed rule:

  • Amends the off-road vehicle regulations at 43 CFR 8340.0-5 to add definitions for the three classes of e-bikes.
  • Excludes e-bikes from the definition of an “off-road vehicle” when certain criteria are met, including a determination by land manager that electric bicycles should be used in areas during the land-use planning or implementation decision-making process. (Note: The Bureau of Land Management regulations do not have a definition for “motor vehicle.” The term “off-road vehicle” is used to classify a broad range of vehicles with motors.)
  • Directs the BLM to specifically consider e-bike usage in future land use planning or implementation-level decisions and encourages e-bikes use to be allowed unless a land manager determines that its use is inappropriate.
  • Requires, where e-bikes use has been authorized, e-bike riders to comply with the laws that apply to bicycle riders.
  • Prohibits e-bikes to be used under throttle-only power in any non-motorized areas (i.e., the e-bike rider must be pedaling at all times).

Commenting:

  • PeopleForBikes’ public comment
  • There are two ways to submit comments:
    • Electronically: Follow the instructions on the Federal eRulemaking Portal.
    • Mail: U.S. Department of the Interior, Director (630), Bureau of Land Management, Mail Stop 2134 LM, 1849 C St., N.W., Attention: RIN 1004-AE72, Washington, D.C. 20240.
  • Regulation Identifier Number (RIN): 1000-AE72
  • Comments on the proposed rule must be received by June 9, 2020.
  • Industry template letter for comments. Note that this is a template, and there are sections that require you, as the business owner, to fill out with your personalized information and business details. Submit this letter per the instructions above.
  • PeopleForBikes’ formal comments on the proposed rule

Fish and Wildlife Service

Summary of the proposed rule:

  • Amends the provisions regarding vehicles at 50 CFR 27.31 to add definitions for the three classes of e-bikes.
  • Authorizes refuge managers to designate roads and trails as open to electric bicycles. 
  • Affords people riding e-bikes the rights, privileges and duties of the operators of non-motorized bicycles on roads and trails where e-bikes are allowed.
  • Prohibits e-bikes to be used under throttle-only power in any non-motorized areas (i.e., the e-bike rider must be pedaling at all times).
  • Encourages refuge managers to limit, restrict, or impose conditions on bicycle use and e-bike use where necessary to manage visitor use conflicts and ensure visitor safety and resource protection.

Commenting:

  • There are three ways to submit comments:
    • Electronically: Follow the instructions on the Federal eRulemaking Portal.
    • Mail: Address comment to Public Comments Processing, Attn: Docket No. FWS-HQ-NWRS-2019-0109; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; MS: JAO/1N; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041.
    • Hand-deliver: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; MS: JAO/1N; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041.
  • Regulation Identifier Number (RIN): 1018-BE68
  • Comments on the proposed rule must be received by June 8, 2020.
  • Industry template letter for comments. Note that this is a template, and there are sections that require you, as the business owner, to fill out with your personalized information and business details. Submit this letter per the instructions above.
  • PeopleForBikes’ formal comments on the proposed rule

Bureau of Reclamation

Summary of the proposed rule:

  • Amends the provisions regarding vehicles at 43 CFR 420 to add definitions for the three classes of e-bikes.
  • Excludes e-bikes from the definition of an “off-road vehicle.” (Note: The Bureau of Reclamation regulations do not have a definition for “motor vehicle.” The term “off-road vehicle” is used to classify a broad range of vehicles with motors.)
  • Authorizes regional directors to allow e-bikes on roads and trails where bicycles are allowed, if the regional director determines that the use is a compatible use on roads or trails and appropriate.
  • Prohibits the throttle-only use of e-bikes in non-motorized areas (i.e., the rider of the e-bike must be pedaling at all times in non-motorized areas).
  • Affords people riding e-bikes the rights and privileges and be subject to all the duties, of non-motorized bicycles.

Commenting:

  • There are two ways to submit comments:
    • Electronically: Follow the instructions on the Federal eRulemaking Portal.
    • Mail: Address comment to Bureau of Reclamation, Asset Management Division, 8667200, P.O. Box 25007, Denver, CO 80225.
  • Regulation Identifier Number (RIN): 1006-AA57
  • Comments on the proposed rule must be received by June 12, 2020.
  • Industry template letter for comments. Note that this is a template, and there are sections that require you, as the business owner, to fill out with your personalized information and business details. Submit this letter per the instructions above.
  • PeopleForBikes’ formal comments on the proposed rule