Greenwire: Interior allows e-bikes on nonmotorized trails

From today’s edition:

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt issued an order yesterday that will require the National Park Service to open nonmotorized trails to e-bikes — a move that drew quick fire from green groups.

Under the long-awaited decision, e-bikes — electric bicycles — will be regulated the same way as human-powered bikes.

“E-bikes shall be allowed where other types of bicycles are allowed; and E-bikes shall not be allowed where other types of bicycles are prohibited,” Bernhardt said in his order.

With e-bikes growing rapidly in popularity, Bernhardt and other supporters say the order will make public lands more accessible to many Americans, including older people and those with disabilities who rely on them.


40 thoughts on “Greenwire: Interior allows e-bikes on nonmotorized trails”

  1. Fascinating. Looks like this not only affects NPS, but also BLM and other agencies under Interior. I wonder if the Department of Agriculture will follow suit so the Forest Service, BLM, and NPS will all be consistent in their regulation of eBikes.

    Glad federal land management agencies are finally starting to accept new technologies with minimal impact. Now if only the NPS could develop a rational policy allowing drones in areas of National Parks where it would make sense to do so (remote, no large crowds, motorized vehicles already allowed so no unique noise concerns, etc.) rather than blanket banning them from all NPS properties as they currently do.

  2. Make no mistake, ELECTRONIC Bikes are MOTORIZED VEHICLES. So we are allowing MOTORIZED VEHICLES on non-motorized trails.

    Also, given the fact that many of National Park Service administered lands are always over-run with people and there are too few Rangers to deal with the crowds and various issues that arise, this will be basically impossible to enforce:

    “The operator of an e-bike may only use the motor to assist pedal propulsion. The motor may not be used to propel an e-bike without the rider also pedaling, except in locations open to public motor vehicle traffic.”

    • You are correct. An e-bike is a low-powered motor vehicle. The fascinating question is which lobbying groups got the Interior Secretary’s ear and persuaded him to issue this order, which is like a wish list for the rapidly growing e-bike industry and is implemented forthwith. Compare that to human-powered mountain bikers’ trudging along for four years now to try to gain access to Wilderness and managed-like-Wilderness areas, with no success so far other than lots of press and a few pieces of legislation that didn’t advance far.

      • I agree, the outdoor industry is generally not the friend of the current Administration, so why would he grant this subset of them favors? Why not just put out a proposed national reg and take comments? That would get the Admin off the hook and delay making a potentially difficult decision probably until the next Admin.

      • The bike industry and the e-bike industry and fundamentally equivalent. Every major bike manufacturer has an e-bike and they are heavily promoting them. This is also an instance where the goals of the bike industry and and bike community are not in alignment. I know a few folks who are excited about the prospects of e-bikes mostly because age and injuries have limited their ability to ride unassisted. We had quite a few state wide discussions about e-bikes in Montana and best the community is ambivalent, and we were only discussing class 1. I know of almost no one advocating for class 2 or 3 to be on non-motorized trails.

        Our concerns run the gamut from aesthetic to impacts. While the physical impacts probably don’t exceed those of regular bikes, at least class 1, every concern people have about mountain bikes – conflicts with other users, cover more ground, too mechanical for the backcountry are amplified by e-bikes. Rather than just worrying about fast going too fast on downhills, it becomes an issue on the up and flats as well. Most studies seem to suggest that people on e-bikes still get a workout, but they go farther. Clearly adding motors shifts the concept of bikes as mechanical transport more firmly into the realm of motorized and eliminates the human powered philosophy that made bikes relatively compatible with the other “quiet” users.

        The big difference between this and wilderness debate, is the bike industry did not fund STC to any significant degree. Even though there is support for wilderness access in the mountain bike community, the actual number of users that would impacted are minimal. With e-bikes it appears that the bike industry thinks they can attract a large swath of people who otherwise wouldn’t ride bikes.

        I tend to agree with Sharon that there should have a been a more public process and that instead of across the board permission the line officers should have had more leeway to manage access depending on local factors such as current trail use volume and trail design.

        My biggest concern is the blowback will eventually result in less trail access as trails currently open to bikes will be closed to prevent e-bike access and overuse.

        • Lance, thanks for the background. It will be interesting to see how this plays out- I certainly hope MB’s are not kicked out of current MB trails. Perhaps this is something (opening prior to an APA decision) that will be challenged in court? Also this is one of those times it’s good the FS is in another department.

  3. I think the most surprising thing is allowing class 2 and 3 e-bikes on the trails. Most land managers have limited access to class 1 e-bikes. Class 2 don’t need to be pedaled which clearly makes them motorized, and for most people a top speed of 28 seems a bit fast for multi-use trails.

  4. I found the order and read it. As I see it, on September 12, e-bikes will be treated the same as human-powered road and mountain bikes on all NPS, BLM, USF&WS, and BOR routes, whether paved or unpaved. In other words, all routes under Interior Department jurisdiction.

    The NPS doesn’t allow much mountain biking on its trails. A notable exception is Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, according to a post on the Sustainable Trails Coalition Facebook page. But there’s plenty of mountain biking on BLM trails.

    At first the order seems to be internally contradictory, since it directs the heads of those agencies to start writing implementing regulations within 30 days and put them out for public comment, presumably to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act. How does a 14-day implementation order jibe with 30 days to start writing rules?

    But it’s not contradictory, on further reading. While the agencies develop these regulations, e-bikes of all classes (1, 2, and 3) will be allowed anywhere a human-powered bicycle is allowed.

    Class 2 e-bikes need not even be pedaled; they can go 20 mph with no input from the “cyclist” at all.

    Moreover, I have heard that e-bikes can be modified fairly easily to make them faster.

    It’s already causing an uproar. It was on the national radio news a few minutes ago, with a National Parks Conservation Association spokesperson denouncing the order’s surprise promulgation.

    In fact I just found this link, but haven’t looked at it yet.

    The Sustainable Trails Coalition Facebook page seems to have lots of current information, but I bet it’ll be all over the internet within hours. It’s somewhat surprising, as STC has nothing to do with e-bikes.

    Here is the order:

  5. I guess I see a philosophical side and a physical side. On the measurable, physical side.. Are they noisy? Then they shouldn’t be there – along with people playing music loudly as they walk along.
    Are they too fast? Regular bikes can go dangerously fast as well (dangerous in the sense that you will get hurt if they misjudge or don’t see you.) Dogs can chase horses and horses can kick dogs. Sharing the trail is not always for the faint of heart.

    Is the question safety?
    Leading to increased use and environmental impacts?
    A philosophical issue around the slippery slope of motorized?

    I would have liked them to have public comment so that the points of view would be more transparent. For example, If this is pressure from “industry”, as the TWS fellow said in the E&E report, is the e-bike industry really that big? Where is the non-e bike industry in all this? Are both industries in different places from the users of those bikes?

  6. Sharon, you mentioned “as the TWS fellow said in the E&E report.” What are you referring to? I don’t know what E&E is.

    • So sorry! E&E News (there’s Greenwire and Energy and some others) is a great albeit expensive (too expensive for The Smokey Wire) news source that Steve Wilent quoted. We can’t put in their whole story due to copyright issues and it makes it difficult for those of you who don’t have access but here is an excerpt including that quote. Here’s the link :

      “Environmental groups criticized Bernhardt for making such a major decision without giving the public a chance to weigh in, and they argued it would open the door to more motorized vehicles in outdoor spaces.

      “Let’s be clear: e-bikes are motorized vehicles,” said Michael Carroll, senior director of the People Outdoors Program at the Wilderness Society. “The Department of Interior’s policy change paves the way for the complete motorization of America’s remaining wild places. The Trump Administration has made it a standard practice to silence the public so they can create new policies and management rules with industries behind closed doors.”

      He predicted the new policy “will forever change the experience” for backcountry trail users: “Families that have sought quiet areas to hunt, fish, hike, camp and get away from the chaos of daily life will now have their special get-away spots opened up to noise and motors.”

      The order also affects the National Wildlife Refuge System and public lands managed by BLM and the Bureau of Reclamation. Bernhardt said the order “simplifies and unifies” the regulation of bikes and will decrease “regulatory burden.” He gave the agencies 30 days to provide “appropriate public guidance” on the change.

      Bernhardt has long promoted the idea of making public lands easier to access as a way to draw more visitors. At a meeting of the National Park System Advisory Board on Tuesday, he said some parks require people to park far away and then walk a mile or two to get to a trail, chasing away potential visitors.

      “They don’t want to do that. … They say, ‘Oh, my God,’ they turn around and they go back to their car and they leave,” Bernhardt told the board.

      In a statement released this morning, the park service said the new policy will treat e-bikes “in the same manner as traditional bicycles, allowing them on park roads, paved or hardened trails, areas designated for off-road motor vehicle use and administrative roads.”

      “The operator of an e-bike may only use the motor to assist pedal propulsion,” NPS said. “The motor may not be used to propel an e-bike without the rider also pedaling, except in locations open to public motor vehicle traffic.”

      The new policy will allow park superintendents to restrict or impose conditions on all bike use in order to protect visitors and park resources.

      The park service said visitors should check the website of an individual park for more details on exactly where e-bikes will be permitted.

      Opponents said Bernhardt had failed to consider how the order would affect hikers, horse riders and other recreationists.”

  7. I think it’s great. Now finally there might be some sort of management of mountain bikes. As Lance above mentioned, “the blowback will eventually result in less trail access as trails currently open to bikes will be closed to prevent e-bike access and overuse”. I’d certainly be happy if all mechanical use of public lands were confined to the same trails, or at the least all bikes to clearly marked and designated and designed trails. The proliferation of illegal trails and the monopolizing of hiking trails has become an issue. Now young hipsters will have to share the trails with out of shape dads, grandmas, kids, anyone with $800. Ideally the Forest Service will adopt similar rules and the total trails and user group thing will be planned out carefully.

    • Som, are you saying that it’s not clear whether mountain bikes are allowed on trails, or that they are just allowed by default and more thought should go into whether they are allowed or not? Kind of a “travel management plan” for bikes of various kinds?
      Also my experience (granted, during the weekdays) is that many mountain bikers in the areas I hike look like they are in the 40-70 range.

  8. Here’s the legal question for the Forest Service – would it violate the Travel Management Rule? If it’s a “motor vehicle” it is subject to the restrictions in this regulation – meaning e-bikes could only go where motorized vehicles area allowed. You be the judge …

    “Motor vehicle means any vehicle which is self-propelled, other than:
    (1) A vehicle operated on rails; and
    (2) Any wheelchair or mobility device, including one that is battery powered, that is designed solely for use by a mobility-impaired person for locomotion and that is suitable for use in an indoor pedestrian area.”

    Maybe we could argue about the meaning of “is” (again), but I’d place my bets against e-bikes on trails not designated for motorized use.

  9. I can’t help but wonder where the public comment andf policy review was when ebikes were banned from trails. The new order seems congruent with past policy.

    I’m intrigued by the ebike motor being the line that some choose to draw. When a liftee took my ebike from the chariloft he utter “cheater.” I find that interesting. Does he ride a fully rigid single speed? Are not shocks and gears also “cheating”?

    The discrimination against ebikes baffles me. It appears that “I’ve got mine and you can’t have yours” is the hallmark of those opposing the new reg, couched in aesthetic and philosophical folly.

    Aren’t we past segregation and discrimination?

    • Gary, of course e-bikes are cheating. If in a race and have electric assist you a disqualified. If you shuttle the climbs, you are cheating. The difference between electric assist and gear and suspension is there is a price to be paid. If you put suspension you climb slower. If you choose to use an easier gear you go slower. If you choose a hard tail cross country bike you trade downhill enjoyment for climbing ease.

      I have plenty of friends who can kick my ass on a downhill regardless of what they are riding. I could be on a downhill bikes and they could be on a rigid and they would still be faster. I have friends who kick my ass on climbs and it doesn’t matter how many gear or what bike I have I will never catch them.

      In a race such as the Leadville 100, the vast majority of people finishing between 9 and 12 hours. The difference in speed between them is three MPH. Adding a motor than increases your climbing speed from 8 MPH to 15 MPH is far beyond what training can do.

      For most mountain bikers the choice to ride a bike over hiking isn’t because it is easier, it because it is a different experience. E-bikes are chosen over human powered bikes because they make things easier.

      Still in the end, that is neither here nor there. The physical trail impact is similar. What we cannot ignore is the social impact. At some point mountain bike users displaces hikers and other users. This usually happens on downhills section where there is a significant discrepancy is speed. Increasing average speed of bikes by increasing the uphill speed will lead to additional conflict.

      You might not live in a place where you have had to fight for trail access. I do and I have spent the last decade advocating for continued mountain bike access to backcountry trails. Perhaps you don’t realize there is a very vocal, very influential minority of trail users who are adamantly opposed to sharing trails with bikes of any sort, and anything that blurs the line between motorized use and bikes makes our advocacy for trail access harder. For these near wilderness trails, our argument is we are riding these trails under our own effort.

      There are plenty of singletrack trails that e-bikes should be allowed on and not just motorized routes. There are also plenty that they should not. Same way that not all singletrack should be open to bikes. I happen to believe that hikers should be allowed to have some bike free zones. And the rest of us should have some e-bike free zones as well.

      Back to my earlier comments about trade offs. Choosing an e-bikes means that the climbs are easier and you can go faster and longer. The price you pay is fewer trails.

      • Lance-
        Internationally there are ebike race classes, with the worlds recently held in Canada. I note with interest how British Columbia has chosen to handle the ebike issue. While I do not have confirmed knowledge, it appears that ebike race classes are common in Europe and trail access seems to be more widespread there than here. Are Europeans and Canadiens less caring about their trails and usae than the USA?

        • Gary, I’m not sure what you are arguing. I’m well aware that people race e-bikes. Great, if that is what they want to do, I’m all for it. I don’t think I ever argued that they don’t love trails. Im early argued that they should not treated identically to traditional mountain bikes and I also argued they should have more access than traditional motorized uses. Managed well they could be a boon to national parks if they decrease car use. If they are managed poorly and we add e-bikes to already busy trails it could be a disaster.

          As I stated above, my concern in the potential loss of access for mountain bikes if the e-bikes are treated as their equivalent. Where I live in Montana we lost access to 150 miles of trails to mountain bikes in Wilderness Study Areas and recommended wilderness and as a whole Montana lost close 1000 miles of trail access because there are groups and individuals who consider mountain bikes antithetical to backcountry recreation and are already using e-bikes as a rationale to exclude bikes from more trails. I have spent the last decade of my life dedicated to mountain bike access, and I’m going to continue that fight. So while I support increased access for e-bikes, I don’t want it to jeopardize mountain bike access.

          • Howdy Lance, I know we’re been over this many times before…but I think you mis-spelled “because mountain bikes should’ve never been allowed in Wilderness Study Areas and recommended Wilderness in the first place.”

    • E-bikes aren’t banned from all trails — they are generally allowed on trails open to other motorized vehicles. Here’s the 2016 memo from the USFS:

      The link is to 44 Trails, a volunteer group that “is actively involved in the planning, building, maintenance and stewardship of the trails accessible from the FS44 road in Wasco and Hood River Counties and the surrounding Columbia River Gorge area. 44Trails is a non-profit 501(c)3 community service corporation, staffed entirely by volunteers and financed by fund-raising events and donations.”

      Yesterday I happened across a trail maintained by 44 Trails, where a sign at the trailhead said “No E-bikes.”

    • Gary, the chairlift monitor who called you a “cheater” for using an e-bike was rude, boorish, and insolent. He or she should have been reported to management.

      As for your other point, there’s a moral reaction and a political reaction by mountain bikers to e-bikes.

      The moral reaction is as you describe it. It amounts to another invocation of the ill-reasoned hierarchy of purity—an aesthetic or religious bent held by many in these discussions. It might go like this among those with the most orthodox views: stay off trails altogether, then hikers, backpackers, trail runners, equestrians, mountain bikers, e-bikers, motorcyclists, ATV’ers, and, in the hall of shame, jeep drivers.

      I’ve read that Pacific Crest Trail hikers who go too fast have been angrily confronted by slower hikers for not hiking properly. Reportedly, vicious arguments break out among the elect as to who is purer.

      We mountain bikers should at all costs avoid the hierarchy-of-purity mentality. And you’re quite right: if an e-bike is cheating, then why isn’t all mountain biking except riding a rigid single-speed?

      The political argument is that e-bikers will alienate hikers and park managers will settle the issue by banning, or declining to allow, all nonmotorized wheeled travel on some trails. Here is what Tom Stienstra, the San Francisco Chronicle‘s outdoors personality, wrote in the wake of Secretary Bernhardt’s e-bikes order. It’s this kind of thing that worries us:

      “At Point Reyes [National Seashore, California], they [e-bikes] would be allowed for stretches of roughly 3 miles or less — not worthy of the ease and speed of an e-bike — on a few trails, including the popular Bear Valley Trail.

      “Of bigger concern is the Estero Trail, a personal favorite, where present rules would permit them out to the ridge that overlooks Drakes Estero. Rangers could solve this by banning mountain bikes here, a worthy sacrifice that would take care of the e-bike issue in a single maneuver.”

      I have the impression that Mr. Stienstra doesn’t have much influence, and hopefully he’s in a tiny minority. It is too soon, however, to tell.

      In sum, the moral argument is baseless, the political one legitimate in principle, but so far no harm to mountain bike access has occurred, as far is generally known.

      To be sure, where mountain bike access has been removed by agency decisions, as in Wilderness, it may make the quest to legalize or re-legalize mountain biking more difficult, without the advocates ever knowing what role the appearance of e-bikes played in no decision or a negative one.

  10. An article in the Aspen Daily News from over the weekend may be of interest to people on this blog. Here’s the link to the entire article. The following excerpts caught my eye.

    “California-based Sustainable Trails Coalition is using Bernhardt’s order to further its agenda of getting the Wilderness Act modified to allow mountain bikes into federally designated Wilderness areas.”

    “As for concerns that Bernhardt’s e-bike order might bleed into the Forest Service, which is managed by the federal Department of Agriculture and oversees most of the public land in the Roaring Fork Valley, at least for now, there is no movement in that direction.

    According to William Jackson, district ranger for the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest, ‘E-bikes are allowed on USFS roads and trails that are designated open to motorized uses. This includes the entirety of the FS road system as well as motorcycle and OHV trails. They are not allowed on USFS trails that are designated for non-motorized uses only. Areas of the national forest that operate under a special use permit, like ski areas and Nordic centers, may request that e-bikes be allowed on non-motorized trails within their special use permit area.

    Under the current FS Travel Management Rule, e-bikes are considered to be motorized vehicles,’ Jackson continued. ‘Individual forests and/or districts can revisit their Travel Management Plan to designate e-bikes for use on non-motorized trails as long as natural resource and social impacts are considered under NEPA.'”

    • Regarding the Sustainable Trails Coalition, I hope it uses any opportunity that arises to get the government to re-allow (not just allow; it once was allowed) some mountain biking in Wilderness areas. I noted in its press release, available on Facebook, that it’s not endorsing the e-bikes decision, or opposing it either.

      I bet that the Forest Service, under pressure from whatever mysterious forces brought about the Interior Department decision, will issue a similar order before long. I personally have mixed feelings about e-bikes. At a minimum, I think the e-bike decision should go through the Administrative Procedure Act concurrent with the decision and not just later under rules the agencies will proposal. I doubt it requires NEPA review, however, since they are almost as environmentally harmless as hiking boots and mountain bike tire treads. As with certain other forms of human visitation to public lands, it’s the social effects that predominate and need to be evaluated.

      Still, if e-bikes are allowed before APA proceedings happen, it’ll be a pilot program, and I think the government should do a lot more of these, including things like mountain biking in Wilderness. I bet the latter would be fine and soon only a few diehards would care about the issue.

    • If you interpret that last sentence literally it would violate the Travel Management Rule. You can’t have motorized uses on non-motorized trails (as the previous sentence makes clear). I assume what he meant to say was that ‘Individual forests and/or districts can revisit their Travel Management Plan to designate non-motorized trails as motorized as long as natural resource and social impacts are considered under NEPA.’” (They could then close these motorized trails to motorized uses other than e-bikes.)

      • Good point. It’s one of the weird things about attitudes toward e-bikes. Once they’re on a trail, it is no longer nonmotorized. It’s better to be honest about that and decide if it’s okay, rather than pretend that e-bike–accessible trails remain nonmotorized, as some are doing.

        • Just as I think “mechanized transport” was not meant to include bikes in the context of wilderness even though they are mechanical object, I also don’t think that it really makes sense to include e-bikes under the term “motorized” because they have a motor. Motorized wheel chairs have motors, yet just because they can access non-motorized trails doesn’t change their non-motorized status. Similarly in the winter we have roads that are groomed that don’t allow wheeled vehicles, but sensibly that restrictions does not apply to fat bikes. At the risk of people arguing the slippery slope with future advances, a class one e-bike that requires pedal assist with it’s limited battery and electric motor is distinctly different than a dirt bike, ATV, or UTV, and it makes no sense to manage them the same. With future electric vehicles trends and the eventually mass adoption of electric motorcycles, snowmobiles and who knows what else we are going to need a new language to differentiate uses. Should electric skateboard be allowed on multi-use NPS trails, or scooters? Motorized as a term is going to become too broad to be meaningful or useful, and mechanized is even worse.

      • Here’s the definitive answer to “what will the Forest Service do.” What they did is this letter in 2016, which was apparently the source for the statement I was questioning here, but was stated more clearly:

        “Currently, e-bikes are allowed with the TMR designations for “Roads Open to All Vehicles”, *Trails Open to All Vehicles”, “Trails Open to Vehicles 50” or Less in Width”, and “Trails Open to Motorcycles Only”. In addition, new trail riding opportunities for e-bikes on existing non motorized trails may be considered and designated as motorized trails by administrative units and ranger districts under travel management planning efforts, based on special vehicle class designations in accordance with 36 CFR 212.55. These motorized trail designation changes would involve appropriate environmental analysis, public participation and designation decisions that, once established, will be reflected on updated Motor Vehicle Use Maps in accordance with the TMR designations.”
        (The letter is included in an appendix here –

        So if the Forest Service wants to allow e-bikes on a trail, they have to designate it is open to motorized vehicles through the travel planning process.

  11. Thanks for all the comments and especially the links, I’ve been reading here and elsewhere. I hadn’t realized how widespread e bike use was, now I seem to see them around town often. They have a lot of support from unexpected quarters. I think e mountain bikes or eMTB as they are called, are probably already being used on trails.

    Here in the people’s republic and home of the International Mountain Biking Association they have an extensive system of trails open to e bikes on a trial basis.

    One thought I had was that the USFS needs about fifty times the budget it has. How can they be expected to manage recreation on the same budget as they now manage logging which from the sounds of it doesn’t get done much.

  12. Also… I’ve been trying to understand what it is about this issue that tickles me and I came across this expression. “Justice-based schadenfreude”

    Many places on public lands have become very busy with high tech machines powered by anonymous humans hidden behind protective goggles, helmets and Blade Runner clothing. Hitherto they were the top of the heap of user groups. They approach silently and very fast, sensibly all others must yield the trail to them. They can create new trails simply by choosing their way with care and perhaps moving a log or two. They experienced no censure for trail building as the trails become long established before coming to the attention of land managers who have no time nor often inclination to reign in trail proliferation.

    Just about every argument against e bikes can also be leveled at mountain bikes. Just about every argument supporting mountain bikes can also be made supporting e bikes. Calling them “motorized” is splitting hairs, they are high tech machines, enabled by the development of other high tech machines called mountain bikes, from which they are adapted.

    If I were king I’d require yearly licensure at a rate comparable to big game licenses, habitat stamp, tiny portion of which goes towards search and rescue, the whole thing. All mechanical trail users. Funds used for protecting the resource and law enforcement, all of it very similar to the way hunting is funded and regulated.

    Other user groups would get benefits the way they do now with free wildlife management. Separation of trails for hikers, bird watchers, naturalists. Sworn officers to enforce trail usage, leash laws, etc. Funding for scientific study of impacts.

    Schadenfreude was one of those words I often heard but didn’t really understand until just now.

    • I don’t think schadenfreude applies in this situation. Even among mountain bikers who not enamored with e-bikes and even consider it a form a cheating don’t think that e-bikes are some form of devil craft that are going to ruin mountain biking and trails. If they are cheating, they are only cheating themselves from the whole experience which includes slowly climbing hills, rest breaks and a certain degree of suffering. Instead we are reluctant to support their use because of attitude such as yours, and fear that e-bikes will be used as a justification to exclude traditional bikes from trails.

      With the dehumanizing language you use and the antipathy you display for mountain bikers as a group, it seems our fears are justified.

    • Also I’m not sure Blade Runner is necessarily the correct cultural reference. No one in the movie wears helmets that I recall , and even though I think Harrison Ford might have worn some sunglasses I don’t think think they really anonymized anyone. Possible Mad Max / Road Warrior but then again while the look is intimidating, it is quite individualistic. There were some sweet sunglasses in the Matrix and in the later sequels everyone became Agent Smith, so I guess that could be considered being assimilated/anonymized. Maybe you meant Robocop or possibly Star Wars Stormtroopers?

    • Never mindmycomments above, clearly schadenfreude is applicable since you since you seem derive pleasure from the suffering of mountain bikers. My disagreement is with the justice based assertion. You seem to think that e-bikes will somehow punish mountain bikers in someway by passing them on the trail resulting in some form of humiliation. Personally I think the in group basis of Aggression-based schadenfreude is closer to you what you are feeling.

  13. In response to some of the previous comments: I am 62 years old and have mtn biked most of my life. I’ve developed asthma the last couple of years and had all but quit riding until I got my emtb. Now I can again enjoy riding with my friends (most of whom are still riding regular mtbs).
    All of the emtb riders I know just want to keep riding the trails they used to, not seeing how far or how fast they can go. I can’t speak for all bikes but my Focus and my wife’s Scott make minimal noise and only when in assist mode and the rider is pedaling. Even then it is far less than the sound of a derailler (?) on a regular bike going downhill and is almost imperceptible unless you’re listening for it.

    This is the exact wording in Order 3376 that authorizes ebikes.
    i) “Class 1 electric bicycle” shall mean an electric bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour;
    ii) “Class 2 electric bicycle” shall mean an electric bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour; and
    iii) “Class 3 electric bicycle” shall mean an electric bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of28 miles per hour.

    • Joe, FWIW for me as a hiker, the scariest thing about MBs is when I don’t hear them at all and they are going fast and come around a corner.

  14. In an article today, the Missoulian does its best effort to help sow confusion about E-Bikes and federal public lands. The article makes it seem as if E-bikes are allowed on all federal public lands and the article includes a photo caption claiming that a a hunter uses his E-Bike for “hunting in the wilderness.” As most folks living in western Montana know, the vast majority of federal public lands in western Montana (outside of Glacier NP) are managed by the U.S. Forest Service, not the Department of Interior. We do have some pockets of BLM lands in western MT, but not nearly the extent of USFS lands. The Missoulian article makes it seem like all federal lands are now open to E-bikes.

    Finally, the Missoulian article makes no mention of the fact that, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) the E-Bike order is invalid.

    Sean Sandau rides the pictured e-bike, a Quiet Cat Apex, for hunting in the wilderness around Missoula. On a recent trip, a Fish and Game official approached Sandau to tell him the e-bike wasn’t allowed, seemingly unaware of the regulation change that allows the bikes on federal lands and in National Parks.

    • Something we agree on. FWP is a state agency which wouldn’t be managing federal land and most of the land around Missoula is Forest Service and not covered. I read that this morning and thought what shoddy reporting.

      • I does amaze me, especially given the location of the Missoulian in context of federal public lands, the consistently “shoddy reporting” on many federal public lands issues from that paper over the past few decades. No community in the entire U.S. has the wealth of resources, expertise and knowledge-base within a couple mile radius on a wide variety of federal public lands issues than Missoula, Montana. It’s not even close. So you’d think the federal public lands reporting would be stellar.

      • Those few journalists left may not be able to keep up with the intricacies of public lands policy. Perhaps you or Matthew could write a gentle letter to the editor and also offer to help with clarifying future articles?

        • Sharon – “For me as a hiker, the scariest thing about MBs is when I don’t hear them at all and they are going fast and come around a corner.”

          For me as a city dweller in Helsingborg Sweden I find them annoying when E-Bikes AND especially E-Scooters come around corners and on sidewalks from behind. Over here they have those Eco-Companies who throw those cheap rentals into city streets where people leave these things just anywhere they feel like. I find it hard to understand these things in wild areas of National Forests and Parks. Really do not know much about the whole Mountain Bike (E-Bike) phenomena in rural wild areas. My only exposure to them is through Patagonia’s website offering photos in wilderness areas on remote trails the sport people have seemingly created on their own. But I may be wrong. Here is what I’ve seen.



          Okay, so there is a ton more and you can google them, but those are rugged areas. People over here use well constructed and maintained trails which are either flat or rolling and always on the outskirts of cities and towns. But I did find an interesting video from the Patagonia’s site which opened my eyes up to potential good. The description reads:

          “Patagonia presents “Dirt Magic,” a Teton Gravity Research and Freehub Magazine film documenting Downieville, CA’s journey from dying mining town to mountain-bike mecca. Inspired by a desire to save their home trails, shaped by a grassroot organization’s unintentional stewardship, and fueled by the sport’s rowdiest festival, Downieville’s newest dirt miners are using that reputation to create a model community for struggling mountain towns across the globe—and it all started with a van, a chainsaw, and a few maxed-out credit cards.”

          All I can say is good for the town of Downieville, California, who went from mining boom to bust, to Logging boom to bust and now to something viable for a depressed rural community. Not sure about the effects on nature and trail effects, but as Matt would say, Whatever.


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