Press Release Apr 8, 2020

Misplaced Priorities: Interior Department Pushes New E-Bike Policy During Public Health Crisis

The proposed regulation fails to consider potential impacts to park visitors and resources, all while not allowing for full public engagement in the decision-making process due to the ongoing public health crisis.

Washington, DC – The Department of the Interior today released proposed regulations defining the use of electric bikes, or e-bikes, in national parks. The proposal comes more than seven months after Interior Secretary Bernhardt’s order seeking to open non-motorized trails to all classes of motorized e-bikes and a Park Service policy that required all park units to consider e-bike access on trails that traditional bikes can use. Both the Secretarial Order and the Park Service’s policy were completed without any analysis of impacts to natural and cultural resources, visitors and other user groups, wildlife or trail conditions. Now, the Park Service is collecting public input on a proposal that would allow e-bikes in the same places traditional bicycles are allowed, despite fact that all e-bikes are a class of motorized vehicle.

The proposed regulation fails to consider potential impacts to hikers, mountain bikers, horse riders and other recreationists, all while not allowing for full public engagement in the decision-making process due to the ongoing public health crisis.

Statement by Kristen Brengel, Senior Vice President at the National Parks Conservation Association:

“The Interior Department has completely mishandled the implementation of this new policy. They rushed this proposed rule without taking into account potential impacts to park visitors, natural and cultural resources or wildlife, and did so without engaging recreationists, conservationists and many other stakeholders who enjoy national parks. And now Secretary Bernhardt is continuing to force this policy through while the country deals with a global health crisis. Is this e-bike policy really a priority during a pandemic?

“Millions of Americans’ lives are being upended by this public health crisis. Now is not the time for the Interior Department to rush to decisions, without the opportunity for full public engagement, on issues that could impact the safety of our people and public lands.

“For generations we’ve agreed that there are some places so special that they should be protected for visitors to enjoy away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This new regulation carelessly ignores those longstanding protections for backcountry areas. E-bikes have a place on national parks’ roads and motorized trails. They are motorized vehicles and should be managed as such.”

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About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.4 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.