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State plans to slow e-bikes on state park trails

With bike sales booming, many are now hopping on the trend of electric bicycles, but state officials are pumping the brakes on e-bikes on popular trails.

CARBON COUNTY, Pa. — The popularity of e-bikes is growing, giving riders an extra boost out on the trails.

"As we get older, these legs can't do these hills," said Joe Miller. "We retired to the Pocono area, and it's a little hilly up here. The e-bikes afford us the opportunity to get back out on the trail and help us up the hill."

But the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) says, "Not so fast."

The state agency is looking to put some regulations on the use of e-bikes throughout all of its 121 parks.

We found people biking in the Lehigh Gorge State Park near Jim Thorpe who say they welcome the idea.

"It depends on how high-speed they are. It's like you're competing with a motorcycle out on the trail or a like a small motorcycle on the trail, and I don't own an e-bike, but it could be a concern if they are going too fast," said William Richards of Summit Hill.

DCNR will allow e-bikes on trails already open to bicycles as long as users follow some guidelines:

  • E-bikes can't go faster than 20 miles per hour. 
  • The motor can't be more than 750 watts and must have working pedals. 
  • If the trail says no bikes, that means no e-bikes either.

"A lot of the stuff is common sense, but when you have a lot of people, you have to regulate common sense, it seems," said Joe Miller.

Others just want families to be safe along the way, whether they're walking or biking the trails.

"If they overtake you on a curve or something like that, or if they're not paying attention to you on the path, they could knock you right off your bike."

DCNR has a full draft of its proposed regulations, and they want to hear from you

Written comments on the draft e-bike policy also are welcome and can be submitted to RA-NR_PolicyOffice@pa.gov. The deadline to submit comments is August 31.

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