US National Parks Welcome EBikes on Paths Trails

first_imgThe National Park Service (NPS) is expanding the use of electric bicycles.The change, announced last week, aims to provide older and disabled citizens with greater access to protected areas.According to a U.S. Department of the Interior policy memorandum, battery-powered e-bikes are allowed on the same park roads and trails as traditional bicycles.Cyclists, however, cannot rely solely on the electric motor for propulsion; they must also exert at least some physical effort and pedal—except in locations open to public motor vehicle traffic.“They make bicycle travel easier and more efficient,” NPS Deputy Director Dan Smith told USA Today of electric engines.“And they provide an option for people who want to ride a bicycle but might not otherwise do so because of physical fitness, age, disability, or convenience, especially at high altitudes or in hilly or strenuous terrain,” he added.“Having an electric bike, I would love the opportunity to enjoy nature trails specific to e-bikes,” Elizabeth Binnings, a self-described disabled person with limited leg strength, said. “Obviously not all trails are smooth enough, but it would enhance my enjoyment of life to get out in nature, and isn’t that the point of national parks?”But not everyone is on board with the new policy, which has drawn criticism from park advocates and trail enthusiasts who claim the government did not do enough to gather public comment.“E-bikes have a place on national parks’ roads and motorized trails. But this announcement disregards well-established policies for how visitors can enjoyably and safely experience the backcountry in national parks,” according to Kristen Brengel, senior vice president at the National Parks Conservation Association.Tyler Ray, director of policy and advocacy for the American Hiking Society, agreed: “Permitting e-bike use on trails that have been thoughtfully and specifically designated as non-motorized raises questions of safety and trail sustainability that must be considered.”An e-bike is defined as a two- or three-wheeled cycle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.) that provides propulsion assistance.Their benefits, NPS said, range from promoting national parks to increasing access to mitigating environmental impacts (like reducing greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption and improving air quality).Watch: A Lyft E-Bike Catches Fire Shortly After DebutMore on Maps Highlights Bike-Sharing Stations, AvailabilityDeputies Pull More Than 50 Electric Scooters, Bikes From Oregon RiverGeneral Motors Starts Taking Orders For Its First Electric Bike20 Amazing Images of National Parks From Spacelast_img read more

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