Ellsworth reiterated these points and shared some of his well-earned wisdom collected from working in and loving the industry: “My overall concern about controversy is that everyone should be doing what we've been teaching our children to do for generations – share and accept differences. UCI officials called the FIM e-bike races “banned events” and went on to say that any rider holding a UCI license who participates in them risks disciplinary measures. Fast forward to today and we are seeing legislation popping up everywhere trying to do the impossible – define e-bikes and manage their usage. Either way, e-bikes are out there. “Ebike” is probably the most controversial word that you can utter in mountain biking circles today. Thus, NPS argues a categorical exclusion should apply now. 13 vote(s) 19.1% Not over my dead body. Name a type of riding, and there’s an e-bike for that. Both these tasks are more easily carried out when you are only looking at e-bike usage on the streets and pathways of our cities. With the epicenter of the e-backlash seeming to be centered around e-MTBs (as opposed to road e-bikes), we decided to take a look at why there seems to be so much trouble on the trails. According to NPS’s Transportation Planning Guidebook, having limited opportunities for non-motorized travel is one of “the three most commonly encountered transportation challenges” in national parks. For this post, we’ll stick to the latter, as it’s garnered t They simply make it clear that a bike with a motor on it is indeed a motorized vehicle. Read Part 1. Environmental & Energy Law Program, 6 Everett Street While agencies often use informal guidance for minor changes in recreation policy, significant changes such as transportation plans and vehicle access, are usually made through rulemaking. At least two lawsuits have been filed recently with regard to e-bikes on public lands. Most big brands, and dozens of smaller ones, are adding e-bikes to the pages of their catalogs, where you can now find your favorite trail bike, say a Scott Spark, in a full e-version. The blending of e-bikes and traditional bicycles ignores differences between the two that should impact land management policy, particularly the motorized/non-motorized distinction that drives significant portions of trail and land access regulation. 76,986 (Dec. 23, 2014). Reg. Throughout the ad, she documents her experience using a series of vlogs. I'm there dude. The Boise Police Department says they will not ticket people for riding e-bikes and e-scooters while impaired. Pedal assist e-bikes are usually limited to lower speeds and intended to assist your pedalling with supplementary power. The pedal-assist e-mountain bikes used have motors with a max output of 250 watts and do not add power above 20 mph. That’s compounded by 10 times if you follow it with the word “Wilderness,” but for today’s discussion we are going to leave Wilderness largely out of it. Already, MTBs have trouble differentiating themselves from motorcycles for access to primitive trails — adding an e-bike to trail access will make it more difficult for purely human powered bikes to secure access to trails.”. Setting aside the controversy over Bernhardt’s order, e-bikes have a promising future in urban transportation solutions. Pretty simple, add a motor to a bicycle, equals a motorcycle. Posted on April 18, 2019 Author Staff Comments Off on E-Bike Controversy: When is a bicycle a motorcycle? The Order established definitions of different types of e-bikes based on their assistance and speed capabilities, and it directed the National Park Service (NPS), the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to incorporate e-bikes into their governing regulations. Consequently, e-bikes are allowed where traditional bicycles are allowed, rather than being limited to areas open to motor vehicles. Engines and motors have no place in that equation.” Staff and the Advisory Board and the public researched relevant laws, conducted a pilot study and worked with IMBA. Many models have a setting where you can change the amount of help you get when pedaling, so you can decide whether you want t… With that behavior change comes reduced traffic congestion, more parking options, and a smaller carbon footprint. The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks argued in a public comment on NPS’s rule that “[b]y segmenting the service-wide implementation of its e-bike policy into literally hundreds of smaller actions, NPS has, in effect, neatly avoided conducting a necessary and thoughtful NEPA analysis of the potential impacts of introducing e-bike use onto existing park bicycle trails.” The Coalition also cited research indicating that, along with increasing road and trail traffic, permitting e-bikes would increase the average speed of bicycles in those areas, require expanding trails and other infrastructure improvements due to the decreased turn radius of e-bikes, and elevate the risk of serious accidents. ASK (and ANSWER) in our NEW Rider's Forum! When I installed my first BionX kiton a Giant Sedona back in 2002, no one thought anything of a bicycle with a motor on it being legal or not. Is the controversy about motors or something more? Agencies first responded to Order 3376 by issuing informal guidance documents. FWS issued guidance as well, along with Director’s Order No. Be mindful of others and considerate of the ramifications of your actions. Or…? If you’ve paid at least some attention to the news in the world of bikes, you’ve probably heard about e-bikes. There is no denying that e-bikes are a heck of a lot of fun, and after one ride on an e-bike, I quickly realized that our opinions on the bikes themselves are not nearly as important as the implications they may have to our trail networks and natural environment. The agencies’ widespread use of categorical exclusions avoids undertaking a broad programmatic analysis of the impacts of expanding e-bike access to public lands across the country, and limits opportunity for public involvement. We all desire single-track trails with the perfect spacing between the trees and a mix of technical and flowy trail features. Oops! E-bike usage in European countries has been mostly accepted by people on roads and on trails. The Department of the Interior’s proposed e-bikes regulations will significantly impact public lands recreation. BOR alone stated that e-bikes were still considered “off-road vehicles.”. Management of e-bike use in the urban forum is more easily accomplished than it is on our trails and rural areas. Environmental and recreation groups maintain that “[n]on-motorized trails were created to ensure that the public could find recreational trail opportunities free from the ever-growing motorization and mechanization,” and that “[o]pening non-motorized trails to motors would forever change the backcountry experience for these users.”. , Order 3376 states that: “E-bikes shall be allowed where other types of bicycles are allowed; and E-bikes shall not be allowed where other types of bicycles are prohibited.” The Department hopes that this policy will reduce agencies’ “restrictive access policies treating e-bikes as motor vehicles,” and will “expand access to recreational opportunities, particularly to those with limitations stemming from age, illness, disability or fitness.”. When an action is nationwide or otherwise broad in scope, however, agencies can use programmatic reviews to evaluate the action as a whole. Pedal assist bikes have a sensor that monitors the rider’s pedaling. Environmental groups have pushed back, pointing to potential negative environmental and recreation impacts of allowing e-bikes on non-motorized roads and trails. It was a Bureau of Land Management proposal to treat all e-bikes as non-motorized vehicles that cracked a well-shaken can of controversy among all … They feature a pedal activated electric motor, so they’re also known as pedal electric cycles, or pedelecs. This is the second part in a series of articles delving into the controversy surrounding eMTBs and their use on mountain bike trails. As of April 8, 2020, 380 units of the national park system (91%) had already implemented the NPS’s informal guidance. The proposed rules circumvent meaningful review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of the environmental impacts of expanded e-bike use. As a 30++ year mountain biker and now owner also of an e-bike, it it quite clear from experience that e-motor bikes are motorcycles just as much as early Indian motorcycles and most early motorcycles were pedal assist bicycle with gasoline powered motors. On August 29, 2019, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior issued Secretarial Order 3376. Categorical exclusions are actions pre-determined not to have any significant impact on the quality of the human environment. Class 1 pedal assist bikes make up the majority of the e-bikes we see on the market for trail use. The Fish and … Before I get into the throttle vs. pedal assist argument, I want to give some background information that will help readers understand the issues involved. Fork: : RockShox … Suite 4119 With no programmatic review, the agency’s site-specific reviews should each include a rigorous review of e-bikes and their impacts. Fans of the bikes have needed an advocate, because rules about where you can take them have borne controversy. You just installed the kit and away you went. Follow him on Instagram @rebel_letters. I think the controversy is centered in defining trail access concerns. Josh spends most of his days riding all disciplines of mountain bikes in the vast terrain found all over British Columbia Canada. The statutory definition excludes higher-powered classes of e-bikes. In cities, it’s easier to define e-bikes, then apply, or modify, the pre-existing rules of the road. September 21, 2019 by Sharon. The four agencies proposed their new regulations in April 2020, and the rules are open for public comment until early June: Overall, the proposed rules operate in lockstep. E-bikes’ ambiguous position between traditional bicycles and motorcycles has led to controversy over whether e-bikes should be permitted on non-motorized roads and trails. NEPA generally requires environmental analysis to be somewhat site-specific, meaning that possible impacts must be considered in each particular area an action will take place. 21 vote(s) 30.9% Maybe.  They can, however, help an agency take a “hard look” at the widespread impacts of a national policy shift. Right now, Colorado separates e-bikes into classes based on the amount of electrical assistance they provide to the rider. In the ad, which was released on youtube on Nov. 21, Ruiz is gifted a Peloton bike by her husband for Christmas.  By not going through notice-and-comment rulemaking, the agencies could implement the Order without receiving input from experts, stakeholders, and the public. All the big trade shows of the past year saw both large and small brands proudly displaying their new line of e-bikes front and center. 12 vote(s) 17.6% Some day. We also need to see the positive impacts that e-bikes will have in the industry. NEPA’s two fundamental purposes are to compel agencies to: (1) consider the environmental consequences of and potential alternatives to proposed actions; and (2) provide information that allows the public to fully participate in the decision-making process. I’ve been around the industry for a while, but not as much as some, so I reached out to industry legend Tony Ellsworth (yes, as in Ellsworth Bikes) to gain a more seasoned perspective. The "Death Metal Mechanic" issues ten commandments to bike industry suppliers, Stay up to date with the latest news & advice, Save your address for more accurate local bike shop results, Pre-register for upcoming Demo Day events. September 21, 2019 at 12:11 pm When I served on the Jefferson County Open Space Board we addressed the challenge of ebikes in a thoughtful way. © 2020 Harvard Law School. Increased e-bike traffic in non-motorized areas will increase environmental degradation and human impact. UCI officials called the FIM e-bike races “banned events” and went on to say that any rider holding a UCI license who participates in them risks disciplinary measures. RELATED: E-bikes: What there is to know before you buy. Ellsworth agrees: “In my opinion, if it's got a motor, it's a motorbike – a lightweight, power-limited, range-limited motorbike.”. NPS, in contrast, created an opt-out system, permitting e-bike access by default until an NPS official acts to restrict it. Among other claims, the suit argues that by publishing the guidance and approving e-bike use before amending the pertinent regulations (36 C.F.R. E-bike trail use however, has been more difficult to control. IMBA would support the use of e-bikes anywhere that we could also support other motorized uses.”, To be clear, IMBA is neither for, nor against, e-bike usage. I recently purchased an eMTB to help me get back into mountain biking after stabilizing my Lyme Disease symptoms. e-bikes: Cool or controversy? It was only a matter of time. E-bikes: What there is to know before you buy, Fall is the best time to build trails and here's why, Haibike recalls several models due to fork issue. A common concern is that e-bikes will hasten the degradation of our hard-fought-for trail networks with their power and their ability to let riders traverse more trails in one day then if done by pedal power. E-bikes have heightened already stressed land use concerns. Lou Lentine, Echelon CEO, joins Yahoo Finance’s The First Trade with Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi to discuss the controversy around its product on Amazon, its offerings and much more. I was confused and devastated to … Both allow e-bikes where traditional bicycles are permitted, and do not classify e-bikes as off-road or motor vehicles. Fast forward to today and we are seeing legislation popping up everywhere trying to do the impossible – define e-bikes and manage their usage. Basically, e-MTBs are normal mountain bikes that take some of the effort of pedaling off your plate. §§ 1.4, 4.30), NPS violated those regulations and the Administrative Procedure Act’s required rulemaking procedures. Class 2 e-bikes consist of throttle on demand motors where there is a trigger, or twist style throttle, like on a motorcycle, which engages the motor. You need to be signed in to use that feature! Manhattan legislators, whose districts are hot spots for e-bike complaints, reportedly killed a similar bill during budget negotiations earlier this year. Cambridge, MA 02138. E-bikes are motor-assisted bicycles controlled with a handlebar throttle or activated through pedaling. 29er, 650b, 26" he doesn't discriminate. Or maybe we need specific e-bike riding zones. Whether described as the elephant in the room, a dark horse, or the coming of Armageddon, there’s no denying that we will start crossing paths with electric bikes on the trails. The environmental groups also argue that NPS’s lack of environmental analysis violated NEPA’s procedural requirements, and that its reliance on an industry-dominated advisory group (since disbanded) violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act.  NPS responded to the order quickly, issuing Policy Memorandum 19-01 the following day. The agencies, in changing the limit by a single watt, are effectively increasing the power of permitted bikes by 250 watts. When you pedal, the bike gives a small burst of power with the electric motor to make it feel like riding a regular bike. $1,099.00 - $1,199.00 #11. Do we need e-bike-specific up-tracks for our trail zones? With some additional regulations, e-bike road use has been reasonably easy to manage. E-bikes are not new to the world, but until recent years there seemed to be little to no legal intervention needed in the management of e-bike use on our streets and trails. 222 pursuant to SO 3376.  The other primary land management agency in the United States is the U.S. Forest Service. BLM, FWS, and BOR all directed their officers to allow e-bikes wherever traditional bicycles are permitted. Yet in some markets, the thought of some out of shape person being able to make it to the top of a long challenging climb before shredding down the trails we worked so hard to build is enough to send a shiver up our spines. Some people wonder, is the public demanding them or is the market demanding that the public want them? There is also a fear that e-bikes possess the potential to hasten the degradation of our hard-fought-for trail networks with their power and capabilities. The pedal-assist e-mountain bikes used have motors with a max output of 250 watts and do not add power above 20 mph. There’s an e-bike for everything. For many, the thought of motorized mountain bikes is making them fume, and it’s leaving the rest scratching their heads and wondering – is this the future of mountain bikes? Programmatic reviews are not required, nor are they a substitute for site-specific analysis. Electric mountain bikes (eMTBs) are relatively new on the scene and mountain bikers are freaking out. The rules encourage agency officials generally to allow e-bikes where traditional bikes are already allowed, but an agency official must still decide whether to allow e-bikes for each individual area. NPS argues that the new definition avoids “the unintended consequence of excluding many devices from the regulatory definition of an e-bike due to a one watt difference in power.” But this seemingly small change is hugely impactful. In the second suit, filed December 5, 2019, a coalition of environmental groups including Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Wilderness Watch sued NPS in federal district court following NPS’s publication of its informal guidance. The remaining three land management agencies issued guidance on October 22, 2019, following Secretary Bernhardt’s order to do so. – Aspen Times. As we explained in our previous e-bike article, the European classification of e-bikes identifies 4 types of e-bikes, but we only need to focus on class 1 and class 2: Pedal Assist and Throttle on Demand. (A fourth class exists, but e-bikes capable of speeds above 28 mph pushing out over 750 watts of power are considered a moped/motorcycle). There’s quite a bit of controversy around e-bikes in the mountain biking community because people see them as too easy compared to normal mountain biking. When I think of e bikes I think. For many people, e-bikes make commuting and performing errands via a bicycle feasible. Specialization in e-bike repairs and maintenance may just save some local bike shops. Colorado Sun Article on E-Bike Controversy. The fact is, at least as of now, there are very few non-motorized singletracks where you can ride an e-bike. You just installed the kit and away you went. Differences in Implementation. The consumer base for e-bikes may be growing rapidly, but the infrastructure to support e-bikes isn’t. For example, your pedalling power would generate a speed of 10mph, but the motor boosts your speed to 15mph. Cannondale Trail Neo. Class 2:Bicycle equipped with a throttle-actuated motor, that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 20 mph. This means more customers for our bike shops, another product to sell, and more importantly, another product to service. BLM issued an Information Bulletin and FAQ directing BLM land managers to authorize the use of all classes of e-bikes on BLM lands wherever traditional bicycles are permitted. Because it is within the Department of Agriculture and not Interior, the Forest Service is not subject to this order. The real problem here lies in land use. Class 3:Bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 28 mph. The three classes of e-bike are defined as: Class 1:Bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 20 mph. Frame material: : Alloy. Take NPS as an example. NEPA requires agencies to perform environmental reviews of their actions—sometimes very lengthy (Environmental Impact Statements), and sometimes less in-depth (Environmental Assessments). The use of categorical exclusions and submission of comments like the Coalition’s suggest that these rules, when finalized, will likely be subject to litigation based on NEPA and other statutes. If you have zero … Both these tasks are … Motorized vehicle-approved trails do exist, but they really don’t appeal to the traditions of MTBing. BOR issued public guidance and a detailed FAQ, and revised its internal Reclamation Manual, also allowing e-bikes where traditional bicycles are permitted. “I don't think the controversy is around hybridizing the cycling experience. Now, questions over the machines’ DNA are arising with governing bodies in the sport. The mixing in of e-bikes with traditional bicycles blurs this distinction. Read Part 2. For recreationists, increased potential traffic and speed of e-bikes creates both higher risk of personal injury and a different visit experience. This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. Lahey is one of the area’s most vocal advocates for e-biking. Under the previous administration, the Forest Service issued a briefing paper and internal guidance concluding that, since they had motors and were “self-propelled,” e-bikes were motor vehicles and permitted only on roads and trails where other motor vehicles are permitted. A sample of electric mountain bikes from Scott, Trek, Specialized, Merida, Haibike, and Giant. What started out primarily as a technology only found in commuter or urban bikes, has spread to just about every category, including mountain bikes. A couple years ago Josh vowed to spend more time on his bike and through writing was able to do so. In the past year, Boise has seen death and injuries from people riding the bikes and scooters. Legislation on e-bikes and e-bike use seems to be being made on a daily basis and can vary from country to country, state to state, and province to province, so we tend to see the rules as being semi-solid, that is if we even realize there are rules at all. All Rights Reserved. Policies, directives, regulations, and guidelines: that are of an administrative, financial, legal, technical, or procedural nature; or whose environmental effects are too broad, speculative, or conjectural to lend themselves to meaningful analysis and will later be subject to the NEPA process, either collectively or case-by-case. Proper access and development of these lands has usually been the result of a lengthy and hard-fought battle by passionate people and they’re not very open to having a small group of e-bike users jeopardize their hard work. Still, for most actions, agencies classify the actions as falling within a “categorical exclusion” to minimize NEPA review. 4 thoughts on “Colorado Sun Article on E-Bike Controversy” Rebecca Watson. This is the first part in a series of articles delving into the controversy surrounding eMTBs and their use on mountain bike trails. That makes us ask: The International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) thinks so: “Use of a motor, whether internal combustion or electric, would require changing the classification to a motorized use. So what do we do? E-Bike Controversy: World Cycling, Moto Racing Organizations Clash International Cycling Union officials denounced the International Motorcycling Federation … Best cheap electric mountainbike.  See Kleppe v. Sierra Club, 427 U.S. 390 (1976); Final Guidance for Effective Use of Programmatic NEPA Reviews, 79 Fed. Instead, the agencies should recognize that, whether the motor is engaged by a thumb, crank of a wrist, or push of a foot, e-bikes are motorized vehicles that should be restricted to areas dedicated to such use. Don't be happiness conservationists. These bikes may or may not have pedal assist capabilities and their top speeds must not exceed 20mph. With most people living in, or near to, a densely populated urban area (think Marin, or North Vancouver), proper land management is absolutely key to maintaining recreation areas. Federal, state and local laws differ on how e-bikes are classified and, therefore, where they are allowed, which has led to some confusion regarding their use on trails. Josh worked retail in the bike industry for 12 years writing in his spare time just for fun. 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