Electric Bikes Soon to be Humming Along National Park Trails
Motorized electric bicycles may soon be humming along serene trails in national parks and other public lands nationwide. It’s part of a new Trump administration order — hotly opposed by many outdoors groups — that will allow e-bikes on every federal trail where a regular bike can go.
Sales of the bikes, powered by both pedals and battery-driven small motors, are booming, and some aging or less fit people have sought the rule change. It will allow them to whirr up and down biking trails in the country’s roughly 400 national parks and other federally managed backcountry areas.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed the order without fanfare Thursday, classifying e-bikes as non-motorized bikes.
But more than 50 hiking, horse-riding and other outdoor and conservation associations, including the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Pacific Crest Trail Association, objected in a July letter to the Interior Department. They say the administration is fundamentally changing the nature of national parks with little or no public notice or study.
E-bikes are the fastest-growing segment of the bicycle industry, with U.S. sales jumping 72% to $144 million last year, according to the NPD Group, which tracks bike sales. The motorized bikes are popular with commuters and aging baby boomers who might not otherwise get out on a bicycle.
The bikes combine the frame of a regular bike with lightweight batteries and electric motors.