With electric bikes continuing to grow in popularity, the Forest Service in Arkansas is looking to adapt definitions and rules regarding e-bikes on Forest Service lands. Between 2019 and 2020 e-bike sales increased 190%. There is a huge new user group on public lands and these users should be accommodated rather than restricted. In several cases we have seen land agencies across the nation look to restrict e-bike use on mountain bike trails. If the concern is impact, BRC advocates that an e-bike has the same impact as a human powered mountain bike. Electric bikes don’t increase impact, they simply allow more people to access some of the most remote and beautiful lands throughout the country.
Another proposal we have seen regarding e-bikes is to restrict certain classes of electric bicycles. Currently there are three classes however, new technology is allowing e-bike users to change the classification of their e-bike with a relatively simple modification. With e-bike use being so new and technology evolving every day it would be unwise for the Forest Service and other land agencies to adopt definitions that would prohibit or restrict e-bike use when those definitions could be obsolete in the near future depending on new technology.
This proposal is for the Caddo Ranger District, Mena Ranger District, Oden Ranger District, Womble Ranger District, Sylamore Ranger District and Buffalo Ranger Districts and would primarily affect Buffalo Bike Trails, Syllamo Bike Trails, and Womble Trails. The National Forest is looking to create a definition of e-bikes that would classify them as a motor vehicle, establish new criteria when designating areas for e-bikes that aren’t currently open to motorized vehicles, and create new definitions for bicycles and e-bikes and all classes of e-bikes.
BRC would like to see e-bike access continued on motorized and non-motorized trails where mountain bikes are currently allowed. Because impact is the same as a human powered bicycle the FS should not be restricting use on roads, trails and areas simply because it is an e-bike.
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