BLM Accepting Comments on E Bike Use on Public Trails but only thru June 9th

plh

Explorer
Is this where we want to redraw the line?
'Anything I could do when young and healthy I should be allowed to do in the same place with motor assistance.'
Yeah, I don't think I'd want to do some of those things in the past with youthful ignorance. But I am all for e-Bikes. I'm still pedaling, but someday probably will need the e-assistance. I have a buddy (near 50 yo) in our road bike group that developed a heart condition that no longer allowed him to join our rides. His solution was to buy a very nice e-assisted road bike. Obviously he doesn't ride with us like a jerk, but now can and does join for the regularly scheduled program at 5:30am weather permitting.
 

al_burpe

Observer
On several of our hikes, we were greatly startled to be passed way too closely by silent, speeding E bike riders…each time it was an exuberant youth joyfully bombing down the trail. Had either of us made an inattentive misstep as they silently flew by, we would have gotten creamed and likely been seriously injured. Admittedly, after the first near miss I did have fantasies of sticking my hickory hiking staff through the spokes of the next irresponsible motorized two wheel aficionado… but I wound up holding my fire. Discretion over valor and all that…

So we all can predict that the growth of of E bike use in the outdoors is going to continue to present very tough resource management and shared use challenges. I will always want to encourage people to love, enjoy, use, respect, protect and support our great public lands here in the west. While “share the trail” will still remain my mantra, I now recognize that it’s going to be up to me to pay better attention to my surroundings while out and about.
I ride an ebike daily for commuting to work and most of the ride is on a rail trail. I do try to go out of my way to be respectful and safe while riding. My experience over the 2.5 years that I have had my ebike is that silently whizzing by people tends to be safer than announcing myself. Ringing my bell or calling out tends to startle people who often move into the space I would use to pass them causing a near miss rather than me just cruising by. I try to always ride under control and be ready for anything, so I have never crashed into anyone. However, many startled people have tried their best inadvertently to cause an accident.
 

AbleGuy

Wayfaring Stranger
My experience over the 2.5 years that I have had my ebike is that silently whizzing by people tends to be safer than announcing myself. Ringing my bell or calling out tends to startle people who often move into the space I would use to pass them causing a near miss rather than me just cruising by.
Your sentiments and courtesy are appreciated.

OTOH, over the years on many hikes where we have been fortunate enough to share the trails with attentive bikers, we’ve experienced zero collisions or panics when a rider approaching us from the rear first chimes an early warning bell or calls out his/her approach. Maybe in the cases you’ve mentioned you’ve waited until you got too close to give hikers a heads up and they don’t have time to react properly?

The thoughtful bikers who alert us to their intent to pass also usually announce what side they’re coming by us on and we show acknowledgement of their warning with a lifted hand wave and then move over as needed as they pass us. We use the same technique effectively with hikers when out on our bikes.

So, different strokes for different “spokes”. You’ve shared your interesting view as a biker as to what works for you, we’re sharing our contrary experience as hikers as to whats worked for us.

I’m curious as to what other bikers and hikers have found effective?
 

al_burpe

Observer
Your sentiments and courtesy are appreciated.

OTOH, over the years on many hikes where we have been fortunate enough to share the trails with attentive bikers, we’ve experienced zero collisions or panics when a rider approaching us from the rear first chimes an early warning bell or calls out his/her approach. Maybe in the cases you’ve mentioned you’ve waited until you got too close to give hikers a heads up and they don’t have time to react properly?

The thoughtful bikers who alert us to their intent to pass also usually announce what side they’re coming by us on and we show acknowledgement of their warning with a lifted hand wave and then move over as needed as they pass us. We use the same technique effectively with hikers when out on our bikes.

So, different strokes for different “spokes”. You’ve shared your interesting view as a biker as to what works for you, we’re sharing our contrary experience as hikers as to whats worked for us.

I’m curious as to what other bikers and hikers have found effective?
If everyone had the same response you do, I would definitely call out or ring my bell every time. The worst are people with headphones on, and no amount of ringing or talking is going to make them aware of your presence. When they are not in the way, it isn't a big deal, but when they are it can be a little frustrating.
 

AbleGuy

Wayfaring Stranger
It is a bit like that. You might also say deer caught in the headlights is similar and you really don't know which way they are going to run.
(Admittedly post might be considered in bad humor)

Yeah, that’s definitely a thing.

We used to have a mountain bike club in the Pacific Northwest called the Suicide Chipmunks.

The name was inspired by the number of times we’d be bombing down a Cascades single track and some furry little critter would wait until we were right up next to it, only to dart out in front of the bike or worse, maybe pause in the middle of the trail in panic and then try to change direction suddenly! 😎
 
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Wallygator

Adventurer
I think there is a failure in general to differentiate ebikes. We recently took the plunge and bought some REI Class I ebikes to use as transportation when camping in our trailer. Rest assured, "pedal assist" means exactly that. We went some places we wouldn't have gone otherwise due to steepness, but did not lack for a work out and spent most of our time without the motors engaged. It was a general competition to not engage and if so, to use the lowest power necessary. My wife won.

On the flip side, Class III bikes that have a throttle, no need for pedaling and can go nearly thirty miles an hour are an entirely different thing. They are electric motorcycles/mopeds more than they are bikes. I am very discouraged to see how they are starting to be used for hunting on trails closed to motorized use. IMO, if you can't take a motorcycle on that trail, you shouldn't take one of those.
Exactly, no reason whatsoever that pedal assist E bikes are not allowed anywhere a regular bike is.
 

skyfree

Active member
The BLM comment link is from April 2020 and that ship sailed a long time ago as you can ride E-bikes on most BLM land now. The US Forest Service is another government agency and they are working much more slowly.

I've been involved in E-bike advocacy starting in 2018 and it was pretty hard getting a voice back then. Now so many people are out on single-track with them that land managers are listening and things are changing. For example, here in the Tahoe Basin an additional 87 miles of trail is likely opening up to Class 1 e-bike access once they finish their study. To do that they are proposing changing the classification of these routes to "Motorized trails open to Class 1 e-bikes only".

All these discussions bring out strong "against" comments from a certain faction of the mountain bike community. I don't even try to argue any more because nothing will change their minds. If these people want to call my bike a Moped, go ahead! It's a pretty cool Moped.

As more people buy e-bikes over standard bikes the scales are getting tilted in the other direction and now the conversations tend to be a little less antagonistic.

Other trail users like Horse and Hike are often against ALL bikes and will do everything they can to protect their interests.
 
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