ACTION ALERT: E-Bikes Comment Period

Photo: Adam Colton.

Times continue to be tough and the Trump Administration is advancing their most controversial ideas for our public lands. As we track their work, we took notice of their most recent move to propose allowing motorized mountain bikes, or e-bikes, on non-motorized trails–trails that human-powered recreationists such as mountain bikers, hikers, hunters, and equestrians have fought for years to keep non-motorized. This change threatens decades of hard work to designate quality non-motorized trail opportunities in communities across the West. Adding insult to injury, BLM proposes to enact these changes with no environmental analysis under NEPA–despite the fact that the proposal would allow motorized bikes to travel further and faster into the backcountry, sensitive wildlife habitat, and the small proportion of public lands that are free from motors but outside of Wilderness.

Please urge the BLM to leave the few non-motorized trails we have non-motorized 

E-bikes are an important and growing form of public lands recreation, and they are currently allowed on the majority of roads and trails on BLM lands. But now DOI wants to allow motorized mountain bikes anywhere that non-motorized bikes are allowed as well.  Trail networks outside of designated Wilderness in the Eastern Sierra are limited and should be protected from motorized use. Friends of the Inyo is currently doing an analysis of the trails that could be impacted in the Bishop and Ridgecrest Field Offices.  This rule does not automatically open up all trails to e-bikes, but if the rule is finalized it will be at the Field Manager’s discretion to open up the trails.  These are places that local trail advocates, mountain biking clubs and others have spent decades designing, funding and maintaining specifically for non-motorized, human-powered uses. 

Please tell BLM that e-bikes are motorized vehicles and belong on multiple use trails. Encourage them to keep non-motorized trail networks, fought for by local communities across the country, non-motorized, so that hikers, hunters, equestrians and traditional mountain bikers can enjoy trails free from motors.   

The deadline for comment is June 9, 2020.

More than 2,200 comments have already been submitted through the Federal Rulemaking Portal. Please help show DOI, and a potential new Administration, that this proposed rule is controversial and unnecessary.   Comments cannot be emailed but are being accepted either by mail or through the Federal Rulemaking Portal. Comments must be identified by the number RIN 1004-AE72. Further instructions on submitting comments can be found here.

Sample Comment Letter


 Attention: RIN 1004-AE72

 Dear Secretary Bernhardt,

I am writing to voice my strong opposition to the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) proposed rule allowing motorized bicycles (E-bikes) on non-motorized trails.  I am deeply concerned that your proposed rule is unmanageable and will cause significant safety issues on our trails, create more user conflicts, and open the door to further motorized use in recreation spaces outside of designated Wilderness.

 E-bikes have a place on public lands and are currently allowed on the majority of roads and trails on BLM lands across the country.  BLM already has the tools it needs to designate new or existing trails as open to e-bike use.  In fact, BLM is currently evaluating new trail proposals right now—in Utah, Colorado, Montana and elsewhere—that would allow e-bikes using existing regulations and policies.

 E-bikes by definition have motors; classifying e-bikes as “non-motorized” is inconsistent with existing laws and policies and would undermine years of hard work that has gone into planning, funding, and constructing our non-motorized trail networks.

 Increased e-bike use in previously non-motorized areas would also result in safety concerns and increased conflicts between trail users, as well as impacts to big-game species, grizzly bears, and other wildlife. BLM must analyze those and other impacts of its proposal under the National Environmental Policy Act before simply opening all of its non-motorized trails to motors.

 I support expanding recreational opportunities on our public lands and believe that e-bikes should have access to our roads and trails.  However, this rulemaking is simply the wrong way to go about increasing motorized e-bike opportunities on BLM lands.


[Your Name]

Comments (2)

Comment submitted to the BLM! thanks for bringing this issue to our attention!

My wife and I have been mountain biking for 30 years (both over 65 years old). We transitioned to electric assist mountain bikes 3 years ago. We are also trail managers in our town of Redlands, CA (28 miles of open space trails). We have gotten class 1 ebikes (no throttle and limited to 20 mph under assist) allowed for our trails with the consensus that they function no differently than regular mountain bikes. They generally have a range of about 20 miles in mountain conditions which is the distance the strongest mtb riders will go. Both being over 65 years old, the reality is we would not be continuing our mountain biking without the bike assist. Using the term “motorized bicycles” is not accurate and the regulation under question did not have anything to do with the Trump administration. This is not a political issue and in reality not even an environmental issue as thus far there is no evidence that ebikes disturb the environment or trails than regular mountain bikes.
Mason Einhorn

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