There are plenty of people who like to take their bikes through trails inside and outside national parks. Perhaps you are one of those people. However, you might have just purchased yourself a new electric bicycle, and you might be asking, am I allowed to take my e-bike through the same trails I used to ride in the national park?
In recent years, the United States passed a law that allows riders to take their electric bicycles through national park trails. This, however, has a few caveats regarding the different classifications of electric bikes.
These caveats mainly affect class 2 and 3 electric bicycles, prohibiting them from using a throttle, only allowing them to pedal through their trails.
As you continue to read this article, we will go more in-depth on the law surrounding the use of electric bicycles in national parks in the United States. Along with this, we will also be explaining the different classes of electric bikes to help you understand the law better.
Are Electric Bicycles Allowed In National Parks?
On November 2, 2020, the United States passed a federal law that allows riders to ride their electric bicycles through trails in national parks. The National Parks Services, or NPS, took about a month to review and talk about this law. That being said, on December 2, 2020, the NPS decided on its final regulations regarding the new law.
In national parks across the United States, electric bicycles are allowed to be used on all if not most of their trails. That being said, the National Parks Services made some tweaks to the law to provide better safety standards for park-goers.
While you are riding an electric bicycle in a national park in the United States, you are required only to use your pedals to gain the added speed from your motor.
This essentially means that electric bicycles with a throttle system that allows them to gain momentum without pedaling are only allowed to gain that extra speed through pedaling.
This law mainly affects class 2 and some class 3 electric bicycles, as they are the only classes of electric bikes that can have a throttle system. Something to note, this law is going to be difficult to enforce in the national parks.
While this law mainly adds extra safety to all travelers on these trails, it seems that this law will specifically be regulated through an honor system.
That does not mean if a park ranger sees you using your electric bicycle that they cannot kick you out of the park or give you a fine of some sort.
The Different Classes Of Electric Bicycles
To fully understand this law, it is essential to know the different classifications of electric bicycles. When it comes to electric bikes, there are three other classes or tiers.
It is crucial for you to understand what class your electric bicycle is for many different reasons. Each type of electric bicycle has its laws associated with them that can change state by state.
Class 1 Electric Bicycles:
This particular type of bike is an electric bicycle that only has a pedal-assist that allows them to travel up to a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour.
The law for using electric bicycles in national parks has minimal effect on this class of electric bikes. Because they only gain assistance from their motor by pedaling, the only thing you need when riding a class 1 electric bicycle is safety equipment.
Class 2 Electric Bicycles:
Class 2 electric bicycle is an electric bicycle with a throttle that adjusts how fast their motor can make them travel up to 20 miles per hour. This is where the law starts to hinder the use of some electric bicycles. Because this class of electric bicycles has a throttle, you cannot use it to travel trails in national parks.
However, it is relatively common for class 2 electric bicycles to have a pedal assist and a pedal-only mode. Class 2 electric bicycles that can travel with and without assistance from their motor without using their throttle can be used in national parks.
Class 3 Electric Bicycles:
The third and final class is an electric bicycle with a pedal-assist that allows them to travel up to a maximum of 28 miles per hour. This classification of electric bikes is also affected by the national park law.
It is pretty standard for class 3 electric bicycles to have a throttle along with their pedal assist, which will allow them to gain the use of their motor. The main difference between class 2 and class 3 electric bicycles is just the speed.
Safety Tips For Using Electric Bicycles In National Parks
When you are riding your electric bicycle in a national park, there are rules associated with them that can change from park to park. That being said, the laws regarding the use of electric bicycles also vary from state to state. Make sure to know the laws of the state you live in and the park’s rules that you intend on riding through.
That being said, we will go over a few safety tips for when you are using your electric bike on trails in national parks. These safety tips are meant to help keep yourself and the other park-goers around you safe.
1. Mounting and Dismounting:
Electric bicycles are noticeably heavier than traditional bikes. Because of the battery and motor, electric bicycles can be 20 to 30 pounds heavier. This added weight can make mounting and dismounting your bicycle harder from time to time. If you are on a bike trail, this can be detrimental.
The difference between falling over on a sidewalk and falling over on a trail to slide down a hill and potentially hit yourself against a tree or some large rocks adds greater risk. So be doubly sure that you are exceedingly careful when getting on and off your e-bike when on a trail.
2. Using Proper Safety Equipment:
As previously stated in this article, laws regarding safety equipment vary from state to state. Some states like California require you to wear a helmet regardless of your age.
You should be wearing a helmet regardless of the laws in your state when you are traversing trails in a national park. Not only that but it is advised that you wear a brightly colored and reflective jacket or vest and have the same on your bicycle with the addition of a head and tail light.
These bright and reflective colors and the lights on your bike are there to help people notice you while traveling. This doubly helps if you are in some accident and people need to find you. Having these bright colors will make this much more accessible.
3. Bring A Map:
Nothing can be worse than getting lost in a national park. So bringing a map and being as familiar with the park as possible will help you not get lost.
4. Know Where You Are Allowed To Bike:
This one is relatively simple to understand. Plenty of national parks have trails that are only limited to foot travel, trailers that are biking only, and shared courses. Sticking to paths that you are allowed to bike on will add heaps of additional safety to yourself and others.
5. Pay Attention:
Be sure to keep an eye out on the trail ahead of you. Knowing what is coming up and who else is on the path is imperative to safety. Making yourself known to others on the track; if there is foot traffic on the trail, ask them to let you carefully ride by, etc.
6. Know When High Traffic Times Are:
Checking in with the park staff to understand when the high traffic times are can help you ride your electric bicycle more comfortably through the trails. Odds are you are going to be the fastest person on your particular path.
So traveling on a trail when there are tons of people walking and biking on traditional pedal bikes can impede your travel and add additional danger to the track.
7. Obey All Park And Road Rules At All Times:
Many national parks will have speed limitations for electric bicycles. Follow these rules because they are there for your safety and the safety of others.
With the addition of allowing electric bicycles to travel in national parks, there had to be some added regulations. These rules are there to keep yourself and others safe.
That being said, electric bicycles are a great and fun way to travel, especially on trails and off-road. Just be sure to follow the rules and the safety tips we have provided when taking your e-bike to a national park.