I am excited to be able to help people get by with their ebike journey. Here at ebikewizard.com, I share my expertise and over a decade of experience riding, testing, and troubleshooting ebikes of all kinds.
Do you want to find out if electric bikes are legal on trails? Read this article to find out if you can ride an e-bike on the trail. It also mentions the rules about riding e-bikes and the specific areas where you are allowed to ride them on trails.
According to major management societies, riding an electric bike is only allowed on special trails that are compatible with motorized recreation. You can also use them on your personal property and personal or private trail routes, after seeking permission from the owner in case it is private property. Do not ever try to take your e-bike on non-motorized trails as this can put you in serious trouble.
It is always essential for the sellers and the users to know about the trails where it is legal to ride an electric bike. Along with this, places where riding this is not good should be necessarily avoided. Electric bikes with pedal assistance feature enable the riders to ride more trails as compared to pedal-less models. Mostly, it is the duty of the Regional Bike Association to compose a management policy that comprises trails that allow and also trails that don’t permit the use of electric bikes.
See this guide to know more about riding e-bikes on terrains. In this article, we will share if it is legal to ride an e-bike on trails. Also, we will tell you what actually e-bikes are and why is there always a debate going on about the permission of riding e-bikes on trails.
Are Electric Bikes Legal On Trails?
It is uncertain how e-bikes should be handled on paved public routes, and frequently, state and local regulations have not kept pace with e-bike technology. Additionally, the lack of a complete source outlining where e-bikes are permitted to ride on paved pathways encourages riders to step out and create a group to express their needs and desires for improved accessibility, and the company looks forward to cooperating with this organization.
There are multiple trails where developed policies regarding electric or power-based vehicles are not available. This is basically a result of mismanagement by the conservation commissions, owners, or higher authorities concerned with the management of the site. However, they need to understand that no matter what power is the vehicle emits, it is still defined as a motorized machine.
Different Types of E-Bikes:
Below are the different types of e-bikes and the details related to each class about trail rides.
- Electric-Assist/Pedal-Assist Bicycles:
State trails and other places where regular bicycles are permitted allow electric-assist or pedal-assist bikes. As per the rules features of electric bikes are:
- Either two or three wheels
- Human propulsion is achieved through the use of a saddle and fully functional pedals.
- A machine that uses an electric motor:
- A power source of 1,000 watts or less
- Unable to move at speeds greater than 20 miles per hour.
- The motor is not capable of going faster than 20 miles per hour with only human power and disengages or stops working when the vehicle’s brakes are engaged.
- On state trails where motorized vehicles are forbidden, a powered bicycle that does not fit the criteria of an electric-assist bicycle is illegal.
- Keep an eye out for slower trail users and pedestrians when out riding on State Trails, and provide an audible warning if you plan to pass them.
- Winter Fat Biking:
As a result of safety concerns, fat biking is strictly prohibited on state routes that are maintained for use by snowmobiles in the winter. Fat riding is prohibited on groomed and tracked cross-country ski trails unless the path has been established as a multi-use winter trail expressly for fat biking.
Fat bikes are permitted in all areas whereas regular bicycles are permitted throughout the summer. There is a place for electric bikes on non-motorized paths, but it is not here. The Trump administration is proposing permitting e-bikes on previously banned non-motorized public property routes. While these vehicles are becoming increasingly popular, their use should not come at the price of non-motorized leisure or our rapidly diminishing availability of wild and uncontrolled places, in our opinion.
What Is An E-Bike, And How Is It Different From Any Other Bike?
E-bikes, as opposed to typical “human-powered” bicycles, use an electric motor to help drive them forward. To differentiate between different e-bike models, the industry has developed a set of classifications. Class I e-bikes, often known as “pedal-assist” e-bikes, include a motor that assists with pedaling, allowing them to reach speeds of up to 20 mph. Class II e-bikes, often known as “throttle” e-bikes, are more like traditional motorbikes in that they include a hand throttle for propulsion. Electric bikes classified as Class III have motors that let them go significantly faster and further than Class I pedal-assist versions. These bikes can reach speeds of over 30 mph.
So What’s Problem? Why Not E-Bikes?
E-bikes aren’t an issue, but they don’t have a place in every city. They have no place on paths designated for non-motorized usage, in particular. The most important thing to keep in mind is that an e-bike is just a bicycle with an electric motor attached to it. Speed and distance may be increased significantly with e-bikes. This has the potential to completely alter the trail experience for riders.
Assume you’re a hiker who’s escaped civilization and found yourself in the tranquil and isolated countryside. An area where the air is cleaner, or where you know you can hear timid songbirds who aren’t used to being around people. Let’s say you’re walking down the street and an e-bike rider whizzes by, breaking the peace.
Due to the increasing popularity of motorized leisure, we must safeguard the limited areas left in the United States dedicated to non-motorized, human-powered, and “silent” recreation such as hiking, skiing, and horseback riding. As a result, we’ll be able to relieve some of the stress on trial patrollers like park rangers and other land agency employees.
State-By-State Guidance on E-Bike Use:
Unless authorized by local legislation, class 1 or 2 electric bicycles may not be used on a bicycle trail, route, or multi-use trail, or path designated for non-motorized traffic. Two public motorized trail networks allow e-bikes and motorbikes. Trail bikes can use a legally established trail segment on the west side of the dam from late May to September.
E-bikes aren’t allowed on some of the other routes in Connecticut’s state park system. Popular mountain riding destinations including Pisgah (near Durham, Connecticut), Rockland Preserve (in Madison, Connecticut), and Mianus River Park (in central Massachusetts) restrict or prohibit them (Stamford CT).
- E-bikes are not permitted on local reserve property or land trust areas that forbid motorized activities.
- E-bikes are permitted to be used on the Airline Trail.
- E-bikes are permitted to be used on the Larkin Trail.
Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands treats e-bikes as motorized vehicles and allows them only on routes designed for motorized use. E-bikes may use Maine’s extensive network of powered pathways. The Androscoggin River lands is an excellent place to ride an e-bike, according to Regional Manager Gary Best.
The town’s hiking and hiking/biking paths do not allow them. E-bikes cannot be ridden in municipal conservation zones or on land trust holdings where motorized activity is prohibited.
E-bikes aren’t allowed on any non-motorized pathways in the state of Massachusetts. There is just one place to legally ride an e-bike on public land along Route 495 and none along Route 128. The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation classifies e-bikes as “motorized recreational vehicles,” allowing them to be used on routes designed for motorized traffic. e-bikes are now permitted in eight state parks:
- October Mt. State Forest (Lee MA)
- Beartown State Forest (Monterey MA)
- Pittsfield State Forest (Pittsfield MA)
- Gilbert Hills State Forest (Foxboro MA)
- Tolland State Forest (Tolland MA)
- Franklin State Forest (Franklin MA)
- Freetown State Forest (Freetown MA)
- Wrentham State Forest (Wrentham MA)
- The US Army Corps of Engineers allows e-bikes on the motorized trails at Hodges Village Dam (Oxford MA), blazed in orange.
- The Northfields Mountains:
On all of Northfield Mountain’s mountain biking trails, e-bikes are allowed. For example, e-bikes are not allowed on conservation property or land trust sites where motorized activity is restricted, such as those owned by The Trustees of Reservations.
- New Hampshire:
Motorized trails and private trail networks are the only places where e-bikes can be ridden. There are no non-motorized trails in the New Hampshire State Park system where e-bikes are allowed.
A huge network of powered trails is available to e-bikers in New Hampshire. There is a popular 26-mile US Army Corps of Engineers trail system near Hopkinton Everett Dam. Jericho Mountain State Park has several miles of other paths as well. The US Forest Service in the Saco Ranger District of the White Mountain National Forest permits e-bikes on authorized snowmobile routes when the trails are accessible to snowmobiles.
E-bikes are permitted on private land and private pathways with the permission of the owner. For example, PRKR Mountain Trails permits electric bikes on the trails. The Green Woodlands Foundation began a one-year experiment in August 2019 to allow Class 1 e-bikes on its trails. This is a noteworthy development.
- on Wednesdays and Thursdays, E-bike days are held at Highland Mountain Bike Park
- The dam at Franklin Falls
- Franklin’s Veterans Memorial Recreation Area.
- The unpaved Rockland Recreational Rail Trail is 28 km long.
- Bartlett Experimental Forest Road is a four-mile unpaved trail in Bartlett.
- Sawyer River Road, Bartlett (about 4 miles)
According to the Manchester Water Works, which owns the land, e-bikes are not permitted on the trails at Stonewall Farm or the FOMBA trails. On local conservation property or land trust sites that ban the motorized activity, e-bikes are not permitted.
- Rhode Island;
When it comes to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, electric bicycles are categorized as motorized vehicles. Aside from parks that have been certified for motorized events, there are presently no parks in Rhode Island that enable electric bikes to be used. Therefore, electric bicycles are not authorized in the Arcadia Management Area, the Big River Management Area, the Lincoln Woods, or the Burlingame State Management Area all of which are popular mountain riding destinations.
When riding on private property with the permission of the owner, e-bikes are authorized. When riding on local conservation land or land trust locations that prohibit motorized activity, however, e-bikes are not permitted.
The Vermont Department of Parks, Forests, and Recreation classifies e-bikes as a form of motorized All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV), and they are only authorized on routes that have been specifically designated for ATVs. At this moment, ATVs are not permitted on any of the trails in the State Parks. ATVs, including e-bikes, are allowed on frozen bodies of public water, including lakes and rivers. Vermont offers a vast network of Class 4 roadways that are open to recreational vehicles, including e-bikes, and are accessible for use. Class-1 e-bikes are now permitted on all of the Paths’ trails.
E-bikes are not permitted at several of Vermont’s major mountain biking sites, for example:
- Green Mountain Trails (Pittsfield VT)
- Kingdom Trails (East Burke VT)
- Trapps Family Lodge (Stowe VT)
- Perry Hill (Waterbury VT)
- Cady Hill Forest (Stowe VT)
- Catamount Outdoor Family Center (Williston VT)
Hopefully, now you are clear about if electric bikes are legal on trails or not. Make sure to gather information about the laws of your state regarding the legacy of electric bikes on trails. Always follow your state’s specific e-bike riding protocols to keep yourself safe from trouble. If you are a lucky resident of those countries that allow electric bikes to ride on trails, then good luck with your upcoming adventurous trail e-bike ride, and have fun!