Where Can I Ride My E-bike?
Motorized areas and trails
BLM-managed public lands offer many opportunities for riding e-bikes, including any Open OHV area or motorized trail.
E-bikes are allowed on trails limited to bicycles and non-motorized travel ONLY IF a BLM Manager has issued a written decision authorizing e-bike use in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
On August 29, 2019, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt issued Secretary's Order (SO) 3376 for the purpose of increasing recreational opportunities through the use of Electric Bikes (e-bikes). The SO directed the BLM and other agencies (National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Reclamation) to expand access on public lands to e-bikes and begin the longer-term process of amending existing regulations to address e-bikes. The SO specifically directed the BLM to revise its off-road vehicle or off-highway vehicle (OHV) regulations at 43 CFR part 8340.
A proposed rule to revise the BLM’s OHV regulations at 43 CFR part 8340 was published in the Federal Register on April 10, 2020 (85 FR 20229). By the close of the public comment period on June 9, 2020, nearly 24,000 public comments were received on the proposed rule. Issues raised by substantive comments resulted in the BLM updating some language in the final rule, which was published in the Federal Register on November 2, 2020. The rule becomes effective on December 2, 2020. This Final BLM E-bike Rule is in line with the Secretary's Order.
While the BLM intends for the rule to increase accessibility to public lands, e-bikes would not be given special access beyond what traditional, non-motorized bicycles are allowed.
When it becomes effective, what does the rule do?
The rule amends 43 CFR 8340.0-5 to define e-bikes, which are limited to Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes.
The rule provides that authorized officers may authorize, through subsequent land-use planning or implementation-level decisions, the use of Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes on non-motorized roads and trails.
The rule provides managers the ability to exclude e-bikes that meet certain criteria from the definition of off-road vehicle (otherwise known as an off-highway vehicle (OHV)) at 43 CFR 8340.0-5(a).
The rule, however, does not result in any immediate on-the-ground changes or site-specific allowances for e-bike usage on BLM-administered public lands. In other words, the rule does not, by itself, open any non-motorized trails to e-bike use. Before any on-the-ground changes can occur, an authorized officer must issue a land use planning or implementation -level decision that complies with NEPA and other applicable legal requirements.
E-Bikes on BLM-Managed Public Lands
The public lands should be accessible to as many Americans as possible, including people who use e-bikes. E-bikes help make public lands more accessible to more people. An e-bike is a bicycle with a small electric motor of not more than 750 watts (one horsepower) which assists in the operation of the bicycle and reduces the physical exertion demands on the rider. E-bikes may have two or three wheels and must have fully operable pedals.
BLM-managed public lands offer many opportunities for riding e-bikes, including any area or trail where OHVs are currently allowed. BLM offices also have the authority to identify which non-motorized trails could be used for e-bike use on BLM-managed lands. BLM District and Field Managers are encouraged to consider authorizing e-bike use in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, including the e-bike rule.
Trail etiquette is the same for e-bikes as it is for traditional bikes. Trail etiquette practices are based on a general concept of consideration of other trail users, and protection of the trail and surrounding natural resources. Key concepts include:
- following any posted trail rules such as speed limits, directional travel, or yielding suggestions
- protecting the trail by staying off of the trail during wet or muddy conditions
- openly communicating with other trail users with typical communication devices such as calm voice and non-obtrusive bells
- use of helmets and personal audio devices that allow you to hear other trail users and wildlife
- using passing techniques that are considerate of other trail users and that do not result in trail widening
- ride in group numbers that do not negatively impact other trail users experience