eMTB Update and BLM Proposed Rule Action Alert
The Latest on the Proposed BLM eMTB Rule and How it Applies to You
E-bikes encompass a broad spectrum of categories, from urban pavement-based commuters (we love seeing them on Jackson and Teton Valley pathways), gear haulers (our MBT trail crew utilizes them to transport tools), fat-tire bikes, to full suspension eMTBs. Numerous states (including Idaho and Wyoming) have adopted specific guidance and laws surrounding ebikes. We believe they get more people of all ages, shapes, sizes and physical abilities on bikes, reduce our reliance on automobiles and have a sustainable, thoughtful place on our trails.
Well, there’s a proposed rule (take a look HERE) for managing e-bikes on BLM land that is open for public comment through June 9. YOU, mountain bikers, could be affected by this new rule more than any other user group. The BLM has long been a strong federal partner to mountain bikers across the west and values rider input, so let’s make sure our voices are heard and we shape this new rule well for mountain biking. When it comes time for the Bridger-Teton and Caribou-Targhee National Forests to take a close look at eMTB management, this rule may be a guiding light.
Why is the BLM a part of this particular conversation?
We might not have my acres of BLM-administered land here in the Tetons (two small parcels in Teton Valley and a couple of small parcels along the Snake River in Jackson) but look east to Lander and Pinedale and west to Salmon and Boise and there are quite a few acres… with really good mountain bike trails on them. Check out an interactive map HERE. This rule doesn’t immediately impact us right now in our Teton backyard but it will set a significant precedent as other agencies like the US Forest Service seek management prescriptions for eMTBs.
Ok. So what?
We’d like to highlight a few pros of the proposed rule and a few things we think the BLM should really consider. Really, this is important:
- The rule requires a local public process before allowing any eMTB access. Local Districts have to evaluate and follow specific guidelines involving public input. Maybe class 1 ebikes should be allowed on one particular non-motorized trail network and not another for some specific reasons that the agency and YOU identify.
- The rule distinguishes between class 1, class 2 and class 3 eMTBs. What are the classes? Check out the graphic above. As technology continues to advance, this will become much more important.
- The rule manages eMTBs separately from mountain bikes. There are instances where significant public safety issues and user conflict has arisen due to ebikes (think about why hiking uphill on Lithium isn’t allowed). We don’t want to lose access to our hard-earned privilege to mountain bike due to ebike/traditional mountain bike conflict.
What could improve:
- Managing class 1, class 2 and class 3 eMTBs separately from each other. Why? Check out the graphic above. We believe this is a safety and integrity issue.
- Prohibiting class 2 and class 3 eMTBs on natural surface non-motorized trails. We believe that throttles and pedal-assist to 28mph belong on trails permitting motorized access.
- Clarifying the timeline for required NEPA analysis as part of planning processes. This is the public process we mention in the “Pros” section. We’d like the BLM to be more specific in timing here.
Our partners at IMBA are helping guide this process. Check out their in-depth analysis of the proposed rule HERE. It just may help answer a few of those burning questions.
Ready to submit a comment?
For this proposed rule you need to submit your individual comment using regulations.gov. (Rule reference number: RIN 1004-AE72.)
MBT supports class 1 eMTB access as long as access for traditional mountain bikes is not lost or impeded. We always advocate for these decisions to be made via public process alongside local mountain bikers and all stakeholders. The BLM may not acknowledge copy and paste comments, so we encourage you to write a comment unique to you. HERE are a few tips on how to do that.