It can be quite difficult to understand what the guidelines are for e-bike use on non-motorized trails on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) and USFS (United States Forest Service) lands. In order to keep this as simple as possible, we are not going to go into the rest of the e-bike rules recently approved by the Department of the Interior which includes the National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and Fish & Wildlife Service since none of these agencies manage lands in Eagle County. Further, to clarify, the BLM is part of the Department of Interior (DOI) and the USFS is part of the Department of Agriculture. They are managed separately and ultimately have different goals, missions, and policies which means they have different e-bike policies.
Bureau of Land Management E-bike Rules:
On October 2nd, the DOI released their final decision on e-bike definitions and use. You can read more on their e-bike website here. The main takeaways from their decision are:
- Definitions of Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3 e-bikes
- Class 1: An electric bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
- Class 2: An electric bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
- Class 3: An electric bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour.
- E-bikes will generally no longer be considered motorized use unless the rider is using the throttle to power the bicycle for “an extended period of time”
- Does this mean I can ride an e-bike on non-motorized trails on BLM lands? (For example: Eagle area trails like Pool & Ice, Boneyard, Abrams Ridge, World’s Greatest, etc.)
- NO. Is the short answer. The decision does not open e-bike use on existing non-motorized trails. Per the BLM, “E-bikes are allowed on trails limited to bicycles and non-motorized travel ONLY IF a BLM Manager has issued a written decision authorizing e-bike use in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.” This means that our local BLM office would have to ask for public comment and then make a determination of which non-motorized trails are open to e-bikes.
- E-bikes are still allowed to be ridden on motorized trails
United States Forest Service E-bike Proposal: Public comment open until October 26. Comments can be submitted here.
On September 24th, the USFS proposed an update to clarify guidance on management of e-bikes. This proposal is much harder to read and understand. But we want to clarify that right now this is a proposal and not a decision so please provide your comments while you can. The main takeaways from this proposal are:
- Adopts the same three-class definition system of e-bikes as the BLM
- Biggest Difference from the BLM decision: The USFS will still classify e-bikes a motorized.
- This means they will not be allowed on existing non-motorized trails. They will continued to be allowed on existing motorized trails and roads.
- *However, If the USFS decides to permit e-bikes on non-motorized trails, those trails will then be re-classified as motorized since they will continue to classify e-bikes as motorized. Any designation would have to go through public comment on a local level.
- The USFS will create a trail access category: “Trails Open to E-bikes Only.” Trails could be specified to be open for only specific classes.
- The proposal will add the following considerations for e-bike use on USFS trails:
- Whether trails are managed for bicycle use or bicycles are allowed
- Are the impacts of e-bike use similar to non e-bike use including speed, increased use, and site specific considerations
- Whether an environmental analysis (EA) may be more appropriate when non-motorized bicycles and e-bikes impacts are comparable
- Directs the USFS to consider designating e-bike use on trails where bicycles are allowed, whether the effects or e-bike use would be comparable to regular bike use.
For further information on both of these check out these resources from:
- Vail Mountain: Class 1 e-bikes are allowed on Vail Mountain as of summer 2020.
- Vail Pass Rec Path: (from the gate by the Gore Creek Campground to the top/Summit County border) Not allowed. However, the Town of Vail is discussing changes to allow e-bikes here, click to learn more.
- Eagle Valley Rec Path / Gore Valley Rec Path: E-bikes are allowed (class 1 & 2 only). You can read further on this on Eagle County’s website here. Town of Vail has some specific areas where they are not allowed.
- Avon: E-bikes are not allowed on West Avon Preserve trails.
- Beaver Creek: Class 1 e-bikes are allowed.
- Arrowhead: Trails such as the Ute Trail (uphill only to bikes) and Apache Trail are on private property, which are open to the public and we are lucky to have access to. E-bikes are allowed on these trails.
- Eagle: E-bikes are not allowed on non-motorized soft surface trails. Eagle Ranch, Haymaker, Extra Credit, and Lov Connection are all mainly on Town and/or privately managed land. Non-motorized trails on BLM lands are not open to e-bikes. E-bikes are also not allowed in Brush Creek Valley Ranch & Open Space and the new Three Sisters trail. E-bikes are allowed on the town paved path system and trails open to motorized use such as Second Gulch and