E-bike laws and singletrack trails

March 16, 2017

Morgan Lommele, e-bikes campaigns manager

As PeopleForBikes and the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association work to pass e-bike friendly legislation in all 50 states, our team receives many questions from mountain bike advocates about the potential impact of these laws on singletrack trails.

State e-bike laws, such as HB1151, which is currently in front of the Colorado State Legislature, will not legalize eMTB operation on singletrack trails that are currently open only to regular mountain bikes.

Jurisdictions managing singletrack trails will continue to have authority to allow or prohibit eMTBs. Colorado HB1151, and others like it, will give land managers an additional tool to distinguish between various classes of eMTBs in future evaluations, demonstrations and policy changes.

Specific to Colorado HB1151, the bill makes changes to e-bike access to ‘bike or pedestrian paths’ which are different from ‘trails.’ The word ‘trail’ does appear in Colorado’s traffic laws (Title 42) as a term that is separate and distinct from ‘bike or pedestrian path.’ The bill specifically avoids any references to trails to avoid confusion. Functionally, the word ‘path’ addresses non-motorized right-of-ways that are subject to the state traffic code.

Other types of motorized devices sometimes require access to off-street facilities like paths or sidewalks, and require specific rules within the traffic laws. Colorado traffic laws specifically use the term ‘path’ to describe how these devices are regulated and how they can access this type of infrastructure. As an example, the Segway/electric personal assistive mobility device (EPAMD) statute addresses how that class of motorized device may be used on a “sidewalk, bike path, or pedestrian path.”

Because HB1151 does not address the use of e-bikes on trails, they will not have access to trails without land managers specifically permitting them.

Our team has taken great strides to ensure that any bill in front of a state legislature does not impact regulations around singletrack trails currently open only to regular mountain bikes. If you have questions about a bill in your state contact Alex Logemann, state + local policy analyst (Alex@PeopleForBikes.org) or Morgan Lommele, e-bike campaigns manager (Morgan@PeopleForBikes.org).

For more information about e-bike laws in your state visit our E-Bike Resources Page.

To find a great eMTB ride, visit our eMTB Map Page.

See all Electric Bicycles blog entries

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