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Information iconCyclists enjoy a ride at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah. (Photo: J. Barney)

To increase recreational use on public lands for all Americans, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will adopt new regulations on the use of electric bicycles (otherwise known as “e-bikes”) in the National Wildlife Refuge System.

This rule supports Secretary’s Order 3366 to increase recreational opportunities on public lands and Secretary’s Order 3376 directing Department of the Interior bureaus to obtain public input on e-bike use.

It allows refuge managers to consider the use of e-bikes on any refuge roads and trails where traditional bicycle use is allowed, provided it is consistent with a refuge’s statutory purpose and the refuge manager determines it to be a compatible use.

In 2019, the Refuge System had approximately 1.4 million biking visits on 197 national wildlife refuges.

The rule defines e-bikes as two- or three-wheeled vehicles with fully operable pedals and a small electric motor (1 horsepower or less). E-bike users may operate their e-bikes in a manner similar to traditional bicycles, and allows riders to use the motor exclusively for brief periods of time.

Permitted e-bikes must fall into one of these three categories:

The focus of the rule is on expanding the traditional bicycling experience to those who enjoy the reduction of effort provided by this new technology. Refuge managers can limit or impose conditions on bicycle use and e-bike use where necessary to manage visitor use conflicts and ensure visitor safety and resource protection.

This rule will increase fun and healthy recreational opportunities for visitors to our national wildlife refuges and support active transportation options.