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Electronic Bicycle Use

Forest Service Statement on Electronic Bicycle Use:

Emerging technologies such as e-bikes are changing the way people enjoy their visits to national forests and grasslands. Today, more than 60,000 miles of trails and thousands of miles of roads on national forests and grasslands are currently open to e-bike use. As use trends change with time and new technologies, the way we manage lands to ensure their long-term health and resilience must change as well. This is why we have clarified our policy on e-bikes and are encouraging local Forest Service decision makers to expand access to recreation opportunities on our forests and grasslands in ways that meet user needs while continuing to protect forest resources.

Recent Updates

Feature Story: E-bikes bring new users to forests, grasslands

News Release: USDA Forest Service Issues Guidance to Manage Future E-Bike Use on National Forests and Grasslands

Updated Travel Management Directives:
7700 Travel Management – Zero Code
7710 Travel Management – Travel Planning

Frequently Asked Questions

Did the Forest Service change its policy related to e-bikes?

The Forest Service finalized its directives that clarify how e-bikes are managed on national forests and grasslands. The directives clarify the definition of an e-bike and identifies e-bikes under three classes of motor vehicles. They also provide needed guidance to field units under existing Travel Management Rule definitions, and reinforce criteria needed to designate roads, trails and areas for e-bikes use. Before a decision to expand use of e-bike on specific national forests and grasslands, the unit must first conduct the appropriate environmental analysis and public engagement, just like any other project that alters the use of the land.

Where are e-bikes currently allowed on national forests and grasslands?

Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes are allowed on motorized trails and roads on national forests and grasslands. Additionally, several year-round resorts operating under a special use permit have established e-bike use within their permit boundary.

Local Forest Service officials may consider new opportunities for e-bike use on non-motorized trails and in non-motorized areas by utilizing a designation process in accordance with the Travel Management Rule (36 CFR Part 212, Subpart B). Designations involve appropriate environmental analysis, public involvement, and local decision-making.

Did the Forest Service use scientific evidence and review public input when updating its directives on e-bike use?

Yes. The e-bike directives incorporate new trends in recreation on public lands and provide forest officials opportunities to expand e-bike use in areas other than those currently open to e-bikes. The agency has used best-available science, public input, use trends, and other information in developing the directives. As part of this process, the Forest Service has reviewed Interior Department’s e-bike direction and continues to monitor how they implement this direction.

The Forest Service is managing e-bikes with the goal of allowing a variety of recreation opportunities while protecting natural and cultural resources and other forest uses. We understand the challenging management situation this can pose in areas of adjoining/shared boundaries. The Forest Service is committed to listening to the people we serve to better understand their needs as well as providing them seamless experiences across boundaries as allowed by law.

How will expanding e-bike use on national forests and grasslands improve access for more Americans?

The Forest Service has a long tradition of multiple uses and supporting access to the public land the agency manages. Simply put, e-bikes allow more people to enjoy their national forests and grasslands. The technology has the potential to include older Americans and attract more diverse users to explore their public land in a socially and ecologically responsible way.