Though pedal-assist electric mountain bikes, or “e-bikes,” have gained popularity on BLM trails—allowing older and less experienced riders to access terrain—the mode of transportation remains controversial among other trail users.

Currently, the U.S. Forest Service prohibits e-bike use on 62 percent of public forest lands and grasslands, classifying the technology as “motorized vehicles.” (Out of the U.S. Forest Service’s 159,000 miles of trails across the country, e-bikes are allowed on 60,000 miles.)

Justin Blackstead, trail crew supervisor on the Ketchum Ranger District, said e-bikes are allowed on roads and trails only where motorized vehicles are allowed.

This fall, however, the Forest Service will consider expanding e-bike access by dividing the bikes into three categories and establishing regulations for each class on public trails, roads and grasslands.

“Serving our customers and honoring our multiple-use mission is at the heart of how we propose to manage e-bike use,” Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen stated in a press release. “Developing consistent, straightforward guidance on this increasingly popular recreational activity will protect resources, promote safety and increase access to national forests and grasslands for a wider range of users.”

The Forest Service’s proposed updated e-bike regulations can be accessed at bit.ly/3lgppn6. Public comment is due by Monday, Oct. 26; to submit a comment for the public record, email Penny Wu at penny.wu@usda.gov or mail a letter to Director, Recreation Staff, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20250-1124 by that date. Questions can be directed to Penny Wu at 303-275-5168.

Email the writer: ejones@mtexpress.com

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