b'According to local laws, electric bikesare typically looking for access to a broader are legal for use on all Municipality of An- range of trails.chorage bicycle infrastructure, includingIn August 2019, the Department of the single track and soft surface trails that areInterior (DOI) directed its various agen-designated open for bikes. AO 2016-067,cies, including the National Park Service as amended OCR defines a low-speed electric bicycle as(NPS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Fish a bicycle. So, e-bikes are legal on local trails, including theand Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Bureau of Reclama-mountain bike trails at Kincaid Park and Hillside Park. tion (BOR), to propose new rules for electric bicycles.After With so much Alaska land owned by the federal govern- hearing public comment about these changes, DOI finalized ment as public lands with a variety of designations and con- these rules in October 2020. They define e-bikes to fit into trolling agencies, the rules are in flux and depend somewhatone of three classes as bicycles (see sidebar). The rule also on local land managers. Historically, electric bikes were de- giveslandmanagersmoreflexibilitytoallowe-bikeson fined as motor vehicles, which often limited their access onlynon-motorizedtrailswherebicyclesareallowed.Shiflea to trails that were classified as motorized trails. Naturally,and his team often direct riders to the Campbell Tract Na-people buying electric mountain bikes or electric snow bikestional Recreational Trail for beautiful riding on BLM land right here in Anchorage.Currently, e-bikes are not allowed on US Forest Service DEFINING E-BIKES (USFS) non-motorized trails. The USFS is considering pro-PeopleForBikes is leading the effort in all 50 states toposed amendments to its rules that govern electric bike ac-cess, but the rules are not as favorable to access as the DOI come up with a consistent way of defining e-bikes, so thatrules. If adopted, these changes would provide that for people understand where they can ride and what lawsUSFS lands electric bikes would be defined within the three-class system but would still be managed as motor ve-apply. The objective is to ensure that low-speed e-bikeshicles. Land managers could allow access on trails where are regulated similarly to regular bicycles. regular bicycles are allowed, but only after redesignating the trails as motorized and only open to bicycles and some or all classes of electric bikes.Many states are adopting a definition, promoted The PeopleForBikes organization and other bicycle ad-by bicycle advocates that designates three vocates submitted comments supporting the intent of the Forest Services proposed changes to define three classes classes of e-bikes: of electric bicycles and to allow them in more places where traditional bicycles are allowed. However, they opposed the Class 1 Bicycle equipped with a motor that providesrequirement that to allow an electric bicycle on an existing 1 assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and thatnon-motorized trail, that trail would have to be redesignated ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike as a motorized trail, open to electric bicycle and traditional bicycle use only. These advocates preferred an approach reaches 20 mph.that would consider all three classes of electric bikes as bi-cycles and allow access to non-motorized trails, giving local Class 2 Bicycle equipped with a throttle-actuatedland managers authority to approve the use.2 On state lands, the rules are less clear and the policies motor, that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 20 mph. more informal. In Alaska, an e-bike is officially defined as a motor-driven cycle, although that definition arguably does not apply. Its a gray area. Both PeopleForBikes and lo-Class 3 Bicycle equipped with a motor that providescal groups have been working with legislators to pass a defi-3 assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and thatnition that matches the three classes of e-bikes as defined in ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike model legislation.reaches 28 mph. Whats the upshot? As Shiflea notes, there are currently great places to ride electric mountain bikes or fat bikes in and around Anchorage. And stay tuned!The changes at the *Different states might regulate these classes federal and state levels are likely to improve e-bike access differently and may enact certain access and make it easier than ever for Alaskans (and all Ameri-restrictions for Class 3 e-bike riders.cans) to get out and ride.Special thanks to PeopleForBikes for contributing to this article.26 |UrbanStreets Anchorage'