The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is outlining a draft internal policy on the use of electric bicycles (e-bikes) on DCNR lands to the Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council for public comment.
An e-bike is a bicycle equipped with an electric motor that assists the rider when they are pedaling.
“The purpose of the policy is to provide guidance for the use of e-bikes on state parks and forests,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn said. “On the lands it manages, DCNR will allow e-bikes on trails already open to traditional bicycle usage as long as users follow some guidelines.”
Dunn noted the guidelines 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.
“E-bikes are increasingly popular as technology improves and the price drops,” Dunn said. “Because they make outdoor recreation accessible to more people we are updating our policy to provide those opportunities on our lands, while at the same time working to limit their impacts on other visitors and on our 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 (PDF) when adopted will allow 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 ebikes include:
- Natural areas;
- Designated hiking trails (blazed with yellow or orange); and
- Trails or roads specifically marked closed to biking.
E-bikes will be allowed on DCNR-managed motorized trails and public use roads unless they are marked as prohibited to bikes.
The Conservation and Natural Resources Advisory Council meeting will take place on Wednesday, July 27, from 10 a.m. to noon in Room 105 of the Rachel Carson State Office Building, Harrisburg. There is a link for virtual attendanceOpens In A New Window option. Public comment is taken at the end of the meeting.
Written comments on the draft e-bike policy also are welcome, and can be submited to [email protected]. The deadline to submit comments is Aug. 31.
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.
Safety and courtesy should always be a priority when biking. Don’t forget your helmet! Helmets must be worn level and snug on top of the head with the chin strap securely fastened. Be considerate of other trail users; ride to the right and signal when passing.