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Pedalin’ in the Parks

Opportunities abound for E-bikes in Yellowstone, Grand Teton and beyond

Published online: Nov 19, 2019 Articles, East Idaho Outdoors, Road Trips
Viewed 517 time(s)

Looking to stretch your bicycling mileage inside our local national parks? Thanks to a new U.S. Dept. of Interior policy, you’ll now be able to do so with more than traditional pedal power. E-bikes are now permitted in Yellowstone, Grand Teton and the National Elk Refuge.

(What the heck are E-bikes, you may ask? Check out these samples from the Specialized Turbo series at Bill's Bike and Run.)

According to a joint National Park Service statement, the order “is intended to increase recreational opportunities for all Americans, especially those with physical limitations, and to encourage the enjoyment of lands and waters managed by the Department of the Interior.”

Are there caveats? Yes, but nothing surprising.

“The operator of an e-bike may only use the motor to assist pedal propulsion. The motor may not be used to propel an e-bike without the rider also pedaling, except in locations open to public motor vehicle traffic,” according to the statement. 

Furthermore:

“Similar to traditional bicycles, e-bikes are not allowed in designated wilderness areas. Park superintendents will retain the right to limit, restrict, or impose conditions of bicycle use and e-bike use in order to ensure visitor safety and resource protection. Over the coming month, superintendents will work with their local communities, staff and partners to determine best practices and guidance for e-bike use in their parks.” 

Visitors should check the website of the park they plan to visit for details about where e-bikes are permitted and any other considerations specific to that park.

E-bikes are actually a perfect fit for the parks, and not just because they allow bicyclists to travel farther with less effort. 

“When used as an alternative to gasoline- or diesel-powered modes of transportation, e-bikes can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption, improve air quality, and support active modes of transportation for park staff and visitors,” the statement reads. “Similar to traditional bicycles, e-bikes can decrease traffic congestion, reduce the demand for vehicle parking spaces, and increase the number and visibility of cyclists on the road.”

Want to learn more? A copy of the National Park Service’s new e-bike policy is available online. Also, safety information can be found on the Electric Bicycles (e-bikes) in National Parks website.

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