DCNR finalizes E-bike policy for State Parks and Forests

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn today announced an internal policy on the use of electric bicycles (e-bikes) on DCNR lands is now final and effective immediately in state parks and forests.

An e-bike is a bicycle equipped with an electric motor that assists the rider when they are pedaling.

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“DCNR received more than 640 comments from the public on the draft policy,” Dunn said. “Based on the review of the comments we have made some minor adjustments and will now move forward allowing e-bikes on trails already open to traditional bicycle usage on the lands managed by the department, as long as users follow some guidelines.”

Dunn noted the guidelines that are consistent with the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code are that e-bikes:
Weigh no more than 100 pounds;
Do not exceed 20 miles-per-hour using the motor;
Have motors that do not exceed 750 watts; and
Have fully functional, operable pedals.

Public comments are summarized and addressed in an e-bike comment response document.

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Related to concerns about the speed of e-bikes the language was changed to note that all operators shall always adhere to safe speeds and advised speed limits along trails, and e-bike operators should never use the electric assistance to exceed 20 miles per hour while using the electric motor. All users should travel at safe speeds.

“We ask all riders – traditional and e-bikes — to practice trail etiquette and ride safely, including adhering to safe speeds,” Dunn said.

E-bikes make Pennsylvania state parks and forests accessible to more people, such as older individuals and those with physical limitations or medical conditions. The policy expands such opportunities for healthful outdoor recreation activity while at the same time managing impacts on other visitors and on natural places.

Other lands open to the public in Pennsylvania (such as federal lands, local parks, gamelands, and preserves) have different requirements related to e-bikes. E-bike users should check the guidelines for their destination before they go.

The policy allows e-bikes to be used on DCNR-managed trails where traditional bikes are allowed. State forest roads and trails that are not open to biking which would also prohibit e-bikes include:
Natural areas;
Designated hiking trails (blazed with yellow or orange); and
Trails or roads specifically marked closed to biking.

E-bike users must propel their e-bikes by pedaling on non-motorized trails; the use of the throttle-only functionality is not permitted on non-motorized trails managed by DCNR.

E-bikes will be allowed on DCNR-managed motorized trails and public-use roads unless they are marked as prohibited to bikes. Riders under the age of 16 are not permitted to ride e-bikes on state or local highways.

Bike trails found in state parks feature a variety of sizes, terrain and scenic views. An added bonus is that you can take advantage of the many resources, facilities and activities found within each park. Approximately 3,800 miles of state forest trails are open to mountain biking and of those, 447 miles within 11 state forests are specifically designated and maintained for mountain biking.

DCNR is sharing a printable fact sheet on biking in state parks and forests with bike shops and riding organizations, and with state park and forest visitors.

Safety and courtesy should always be a priority when biking:
Know the type and specifications of the device you’re riding and where you can ride it
Maintain safe speeds at all times, consider trail and weather conditions, and always be cognizant of other users along the trail
Stay to the right, pass on the left
Let other trail users know you are coming – give a friendly greeting
Limit distractions, don’t impair your hearing (i.e., by wearing headphones or ear buds).
Obey all trail and road signs
Slow down in congested areas
If you’re on wheels, yield to pedestrians
Use special care when passing horses
Helmets are required by law for persons under the age of 12 and are recommended for bicyclists of all ages
Maintain single file when passing or being passed
It is important for users to be aware of battery storage capacity of their e-bike and available charging options. Users should not assume that trails open to e-bikes include e-bike charging stations
Stay on the trail. Do not go off the trail (even to pass), create new trails, or cut switchbacks
Don’t block the trail. When taking a break, move to the side of the trail to allow others to pass safely
Expect the unexpected. Humans and animals can be unpredictable

A Frequently Asked Questions document has more information about the e-bike policy. More information about biking and mountain biking is on the DCNR website.

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