On August 30, the National Park Service announced a new electric bicycle (e-bike) policy for national parks, expanding recreational opportunities and accessibility. The policy supports Secretary’s Order 3376 (PDF), signed by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt on August 29, 2019, that directs Department of the Interior (DOI) bureaus to create a clear and consistent e-bike policy on all federal lands managed by the department. The policy also supports Secretary’s Order 3366 (PDF) to increase recreational opportunities on public lands.
This new policy will enhance fun and healthy recreational opportunities for visitors to our national parks and support active transportation options.
- E-bikes make bicycle travel easier and more efficient, because they allow bicyclists to travel farther with less effort.
- E-bikes provide expanded options for visitors who wish to ride a bicycle but may be limited because of physical fitness, age, disability, or convenience.
- When used as an alternative to gasoline- or diesel-powered modes of transportation, e-bikes can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption, improve air quality, and support active modes of transportation for park staff and visitors.
- Similar to traditional bicycles, e-bikes can decrease traffic congestion, reduce the demand for vehicle parking spaces, and increase the number and visibility of cyclists on the road.
Parks are beginning to implement the new policy, so be sure to check with the park you’re visiting for details about where e-bikes are permitted and any other considerations specific to that park. Similar to traditional bicycles, e-bikes are not allowed in designated wilderness areas. During the implementation period, park superintendents will work with their local communities, staff, and partners to determine best practices and guidance for e-bike use in their parks. Superintendents will retain the right to limit, restrict, or impose conditions of bicycle use to ensure visitor safety and resource protection. Read the frequently asked questions below for more information about the policy.
When riding e-bikes in national parks, follow all applicable regulations and be aware of these special safety considerations:
- Mount and dismount the bike carefully. The added weight of the battery and motor assist technology can add 20 or more pounds to the weight of the bike.
- Make yourself visible. Wear bright-colored and reflective clothes.
- Wear a helmet while riding.
- Obey speed limits. Some e-bikes may exceed park speed limits with the motor engaged.
- Pay attention to traffic. Drivers may not be aware that an e-bike rider is traveling close to their speed.
- Slow down at intersections. Make eye contact with other drivers before crossing the intersection.
A copy of the National Park Service’s new e-bike policy is available.
Frequently Asked Questions
The National Park Service Active Transportation Guidebook: A Resource on Supporting Walking and Bicycling for National Parks and their Partners (PDF) is a useful resource to support parks, gateway communities, and partners who are interested in pursuing opportunities to enhance walking and bicycling to and within national parks. The guidebook provides key information, best practice examples, and numerous useful resources to help inspire and guide efforts that would allow visitors to experience their natural, cultural and historical places in new ways—through active transportation.
Active transportation, including cycling, walking and other forms of human-powered transportation, provides a broad range of benefits to parks and surrounding communities. This includes solutions for managing vehicle congestion, promoting resource preservation, and accommodating increased visitation by providing alternatives to driving. The guidebook covers a number of topics from planning and developing infrastructure, such as pedestrian pathways and bike lanes, to evaluating and improving safety for active transportation modes, to offering activities and programs that provide park visitors the opportunity explore national parks by foot, bicycle, or other nonmotorized means.
Last updated: October 21, 2019