On July 25th, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) released a draft policy on the use of e-bikes on bike trails found in state parks and forests that are managed by DCNR. The purpose of their policy is to provide guidelines that will allow the use of e-bikes on trails that are already open to the use of traditional bikes. Their full policy can be accessed here. These guidelines are consistent with the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code and include the following:
- 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.
Last week, the policy team at the Bicycle Coalition published Questions and Answers about Electric Assist Bikes that covered its position on e-bikes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. As e-bike sales are rapidly increasing year after year, the Bicycle Coalition prepared its statement to answer frequently asked questions and listed its policy recommendations for the Greater Philadelphia area. The Bicycle Coalition supports the inclusivity of ridership among everyone and e-bikes are one way to appeal to a greater population.
The Bicycle Coalition supports the accessibility of cyclists to be able to ride comfortably on trails with safety being a priority. After reviewing different state parks and trails’ successes, we are able to incorporate some policies and recommendations we fully support into Pennsylvania trails. BCGP recommends trail managers and legislators to:
- Update the state vehicle code by properly defining the three-class system as outlined by People for Bikes’ published a one-pager that offers a Model Electric Bicycle Law with Classes.
- Set a speed limit for all trail users (we suggest 15 mph). The speed limit could be lowered where there are conflicts in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic.
- Add trail etiquette signs at trailheads.
- Permit e-bikes and other low-speed personal vehicles on paved shared use paths with a posted speed limit.
- Display maps and/or regulations at trailheads to show where e-bikes are allowed.
- Publish maps to show where e-bikes are allowed on trails.
The Bicycle Coalition opposes any policies and programs that suppress the access and ability of cycling. Public policy regarding certain types of electric bicycles, issues like licensing and registration, or restrictions and regulations on where electric bicycles can ride should be examined closely in order to not discourage the use of cycling. But we must recognize the problems of dangerous speeds these e-bikes are capable of, especially on trails, and find best practices to control speeding in order to ensure safety for all users.
We encourage you to take action today by submitting our pre-written comments that include the Bicycle Coalition’s recommendations for e-bikes on trails found in the state parks and forests that are managed by DCNR. It’s important that you take a few minutes to share your thoughts on the department’s recommendations as the public comment period will close on Wednesday, August 31.