Easy Ways To Comment on E-Bike Policy

It seems like most TSW folks who have commented here are against the Interior electric bike order. It may be similar to the proposal to close FS Job Corps Centers, in that a reaction from the public can get the decision turned around. To that end, I’m posting what the Colorado Mountain Club sent out this AM in terms of how to comment. I’m sure most of you probably belong to groups that have this handy “contact everyone” button. If you aren’t on a mailing list for this easy mode of commenting, maybe other TSW folks will know a national or state group that has the same approach to easy commenting. I’m sure you don’t have to be a member of the organization. If not, there is always the approach of contacting each individual separately.

Here’s what the Colorado Mountain Club has:

On August 29, 2019, Department of the Interior Secretary Bernhardt released an order to allow electric bicycles (e-bikes) on non-motorized trails. While some front-range communities allow Class 1 e-bikes on trails, this policy includes full-throttle e-bikes and Class 3 pedal assisted bikes whose motors can engage while traveling as fast as 28 miles per hour. At a national scale, this sweeping policy will truly change the dynamic of trail experiences on federal public lands.

DOI Policy (08.29.2019): https://www.doi.gov/sites/doi.gov/files/elips/documents/so_3376_-_increasing_recreational_opportunities_through_the_use_of_electric_bikes_-508_0.pdf
Wilderness Society Press Release: https://www.wilderness.org/articles/press-release/national-groups-blast-interior-dept-opening-non-motorized-trails-e-bikes

Talking points:
This policy would affect hundreds of miles of hiking trails on BLM lands throughout Colorado in communities like Salida, Fruita, Grand Junction, Ridgway, Del Norte, Canon City and many more.
By issuing a sweeping policy to allow e-bikes on non-motorized trails, the agency is blatantly ignoring existing travel management rules and regulations. This undermines the bedrock laws that protect human-powered recreation and the backcountry landscapes and natural resources we enjoy.
While e-bikes are a very appropriate mode of travel on public lands, they have a motor and should be regulated in accordance with existing travel management rules. There are thousands of miles of motorized trails and roads in Colorado that are already legally accessible to e-bikes.
If any non-motorized trails are to be considered for e-bike use, the agency should carefully analyze impacts to current users, wildlife and natural resources before allowing e-bike designation.
E-bikes tend to be ridden faster than regular bikes, resulting in more speed differential between them and other trail users. This amplifies conflict and danger.
E-bike access on backcountry non-motorized trails may create situations where mechanical breakdowns, accidents or other emergencies could be catastrophic and put added strain on search & rescue organizations.
Public comment is an essential part of the decision making process on federal lands and input should’ve been requested in advance of such a far-reaching policy change.

As you can see in the image above, you can just click on a few things, add some sentences and it sends the comments to a bunch of relevant individuals at once.

A new DOI policy states that “E-bikes shall be allowed where other types of bicycles are allowed” – including hundreds of miles of non-motorized trails on BLM and National Park lands in Colorado. The policy not only creates a huge potential for user conflict but sets a danger precedent for allowing motorized vehicles on non-motorized trails and dismantling the Travel Planning Rule.

Although a rule-making process and public comment period will commence in the future, we urge you to please take a moment now to share your concerns with your legislative representatives and DOI officials.
Check out the Background Info tab for details and talking points
Review the DOI E-Bike Policy
Craft your comments below with details about how this will affect your favorite recreation spots

Through this action alert you will be able to:
Send a letter to your federal legislators
Send a letter to top DOI, BLM and Park Service officials
Submit a letter to the editor of your local paper
Share the news on social media

9 thoughts on “Easy Ways To Comment on E-Bike Policy”

  1. I believe this order is right on the money. It has been policy all over Europe for about 4 years. It is in line with the majority of States. US Forest service should adopt this policy, they are the only hold out now. The arguments against e bikes can be applied to all bicycles. Just like the trails.. Thank you.

    • Mike, you seem to be knowledgeable on this issue.. could you post some links to the European and State experiences and how they have worked? Do they distinguish Class 1s? Thanks!

  2. This argument against ebikes is much weaker than the outcry of the Equestrian lobby in the ’80s. Mountain bikes won access and horses can go everywhere. E Bikes and bicycles are pretty much indistinguishable except for the smile factor…The Forest Service could amend the order to Class 1 20 mph only. Which is what is current sold in the US. The dept of Commerce now recognizes Class 1 as equal to non motorized. Please adopt order 3376.

  3. E-bikes are great. I am 64YO with a herniated disc in my neck that prevents me from riding a regular bike. If it wasn’t for e-bikes I couldn’t ride a bike anymore. I’m sure many disabled people will benefit from this. You statement that e-bikes go faster than regular bikes is not true, and you can’t prove it. Even on my e-bike, I couldn’t keep up with a young strong rider, not would I want to. You folks need to think about this more.

    • Mike, thanks for presenting your point of view. I think that there are two claims being made, the first is that (1) they go faster than regular bikes so that is more dangerous. And I think (2) is that more people will be out there, on the average, going faster than hikers.

      Perhaps people with different opinions have different kinds of trails in mind… a) say a twisty windy steep singletrack, versus a b) paved trail, versus c) a flat dirt wide trail

      I think that there’s also a law enforcement question… you could only allow the motor to be used going uphill, or have a speed limit, but how could that be enforced?

      The more techie among us might imagine sensors and limits for certain bikes that enforce those restrictions through the bike’s own technology. Perhaps the industry could make that a standard on certain bikes and they could be registered in a state or with the feds? With the $ going to trails…

      But my basic point is that I think managers need to think about “where”, following the natural resource law that says “it’s easier to open up uses than to close them down.” To that end, my point is not against e-bikes but for local decisions about them guided by general principles.

  4. eBikes extend the impacts of mtn bikes deeper into the wild. this is not a good idea, and unfair to those trying to escape their impacts.

  5. The CMC hates mountain bikes, why would they not put out a laughable screed against ebikes?

    1). ebikes are actually *less* capable going downhill on a twisty trail than the average trail bike, because they weigh more. If the trail (or road) is flat and straight, you don’t go any faster than a lot of lycra-clad riders anyway, in fact, I get passed by riders on non-ebikes all the time while riding my Class 1, which actually cuts power at 19MPH. On downhills, you use BRAKES, not power.
    2). The “there will be a rescue crisis in the backcountry” argument is just dumb. You can still pedal an ebike that has a dead battery. What happens when a “regular” MTB rider tacos a wheel or just plain bonks (runs out of energy) 10 miles from the trailhead? They walk, just like an ebike rider. Is this really an issue? No.
    3). I have a personal policy about ebikes, especially e-MTBs. If you have never ridden one on an actual trail for at least five miles, I don’t care what you think about them. Until you do, you’ll have unreasonable fears about their safety and capability. I don’t insert myself into rock climbing discussions because I’m not a rock climber, but if I just stood back and looked at the activity itself, and the death/injury rate, I’d certainly lean toward banning rock climbing.

    Ride an ebike, become educated and learn *exactly* what they are, and then comment, don’t regurgitate ridiculous and erroneous claims by people who don’t have a clue. I’m speaking to you, CMC members.

  6. Fast electric bikes are an innovative solution for those people who want to exert less effort in biking but want to take longer distances. Do you know how fast do electric bikes go? In the United States, electric bikes are categorized into Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3: Class 1 have a motor that can only function once you push the pedal, you can enjoy an e-bike speed of 20mph, while the maximum motor wattage is up to 750W. Class 2 e-bikes also have a full speed of up to 20 miles per hour, but it has the drive system activated by a throttle. You can travel up to 28mph full speed when you choose an electric bicycle in Class 3. Most e-bikes in this category have 750W motors.


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