In 2019 Electric Bike Report brought you all the news on the latest e-bikes and e-bike systems.
Just as importantly though, we also brought you lots of news about just how, where and when e-bikes can be used – and are being used.
Here we take a look back at the news highlights of 2019 that detailed new riding opportunities and stories of inspiration.
More Access for eBikes in National Parks & More
National Parks Access
Probably the most significant announcement of the year was made in late August, with the The U.S. Department of Interior decreeing that all classes of e-bikes would be regulated as traditional bicycles on non-motorized federal lands, the change to take place within 30 days of the decree, primarily affecting the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management.
Clearly this was a big signal from the National Parks authorities.
As the memorandum itself said ‘e-bikes advance “Healthy Parks Healthy People” goals to promote parks as a health resource by supporting a healthy park experience that is accessible, desirable, and relatable to people of all abilities, and by minimizing human impact through the expansion of active transportation options in parks.’
As you can see in this video each National Park had a month or so to put the policy into place:
Whilst the memorandum won’t necessarily open up hundreds of miles of new trails to e-bikes it will open up some new trails, for example on Arcadia National Parks’s Carriage Roads.
It certainly doesn’t give e-bikers carte blanche to ride in wilderness areas or on all off-road trails, the majority of which in National Parks remain off limits to e-bikes (and regular bikes).
It also clarified and encouraged e-bike access opportunities and EBR highlighted some of these here.
Amongst the many opportunities for getting out on your e-bike in the National Parks are the variety of trails at Yellowstone, the famed back country roads of Utah’s Canyonlands’ back country roads and Washington state’s Mount Ranier NP.
Of course, a legal backlash was perhaps inevitable in such popular and sensitive areas; EBR reported on the very recent legal challenge by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility PEER challenging the National Park Service and Department of the Interior decision to allow “e-bike use throughout the National Park System.” The lawsuit has been joined by local users in Maine and California.
Other Trail Networks Open up to Emtbs
There was also news from Tahoe National Forest, where Singletracks reported on the clearer rules that were set out for class 1 emtb access in mid 2019.
The issue does appear to get a little legalistic, with those at Tahoe clearly doing their best to adopt a liberal approach to emtbs on trails insofar as current legislation allows it.
As the article states ‘Allowing eMTBs on select non-motorized trails within the Tahoe National Forest is notable in light of a 2015 USFS briefing paper stating that e-bikes are considered “motor vehicles” and subject to Travel Management Plan restrictions.
However, this isn’t the first National Forest in California to allow electric mountain bikes on non-motorized trails; last summer Mammoth Mountain began allowing eMTBs in the bike park which sits on land leased from the USFS.’
However, the article makes it clear that by limiting access to Class 1 e-bikes where the rider needs to pedal to activate power, Tahoe National Forest are seeking to act within the current rules.
The article also details how trail access is also opening up in other areas after careful research and trials, namely Jefferson County Colorado and Maricopa Country Arizona.
Still, as the article notes, these are really just first steps for those who want more emtb trail access; ‘For now, much remains the same across the country, and eMTB access is open to interpretation and determination by the appropriate land manager. It does not appear that access is slowing down for pedal-assist electric mountain bikers any time soon, however.’
In addition People for Bikes have done great work in 2019 keeping us up to date on the nearly 200 national wildlife refuges that allow bike riding and now e-bikes (allowed by the Fish and Wildlife Service’s own e-bike directive that came in the wake of the NPS directive).
This helpful page from their website lets you check out various suggested rides in such refuges as well as linking to their spreadsheet that will keep you up date with new e-bike access.
Despite this and as with NPS’s moves to expand (even moderately) e-bike access there was a legal challenge in the form of the lawsuit filed by a group of equestrians and wilderness advocates, which claims that the U.S. Forest Service unilaterally decided to allow Class 1 e-mtbs on 132 miles of non-motorized trails in the Tahoe National Forest.
Coming Back from Adversity and Illness with E-bikes
We covered how professional stunt jumper Phil Smage broke his neck in a stunt gone wrong and never thought he would be back riding – but with the help of an e-bike he was…
Pro Freeride mountain biker Paul Basagoitia also underwent life changing spinal injuries as a result of a bike crash and 2019 also saw him enlist an e-bike on the road to recovery. In his own words it has become ‘a tool of freedom’:
British ex-pro rider Sean Yates suffers from AV (Atrioventricular canal defect) that hinders his performance as his heart rate now maxes out at 90 beats per minute, meaning he can no longer ride hard, but an e-bike has kept him on two wheels according to this Cycling Weekly article.
More Inspiring eBikers
2019 research from Cycle Boom found that cyclists between the ages of 50 to 83 experienced ‘cognitive and mental health benefits’ from riding a bike, whether it was electrically assisted or pedal powered.
If you are lucky you might still be e-biking at 96…
Cycling is an important means of transportation in the Netherlands, especially for the elderly. It keeps them healthy and contributes to social inclusion.
— Dutch Cycling Embassy (@Cycling_Embassy) May 9, 2019
There was a note of caution sounded though by a Danish study on e-bike accidents.
Other amazing e-biking individuals we met in 2019 included Derrick Bell, trail builder and Christine Palmer, a professor of natural sciences at Castleton University, who rides her electric bike to and from work, a round-trip of 56 miles.
Enticing sounding e-bike adventures we have covered include:
Schweitzer Mountain Resort tours in northern Idaho
Touring the Sonoran Desert in Tucson, AZ
The UK saw us highlight eMTB coaching and guided rides in the spectacular Peak District, courtesy of Trail Advantage, and highlight a new map in the area ideal of e-bike rides, including the classic 110 mile Pike to Peak challenge.
If you want an absolute epic emtb challenge take a look at Cycling UK’s epic Great North Trail:
And Ike and Megan Fazzio made it from Los Angeles to the UK to discover the joys and challenges of e-biking off-road in Scotland.
In Continental Europe we looked at the incredible sounding Transdinarica, across Europe’s Julian Alps
eBiking above the Mediterranean in Gibraltar
I also got to experience the joys of cycling through the Netherlands first hand.
Finally we looked at some organised European e-bike tours courtesy of Forbes.
EBR also covered the simply outlandish in 2019, for example what happens when you take the term rail biking literally,
or when you replace your front wheel with a ski…
Organised eBike Events
Most physically challenging e-bike event of the year has to go to E-bike Desert Challenge, a 185 mile race through the Moroccan Sahara that we reported on in early 2019. Daytime temperatures were 15-25 degrees C (59-77 F) with much colder nights.
Probably the landmark event of the competitive e-bike year was the first electric mountain bike UCI World Championships held this at Mont-Sainte-Anne in Quebec and it looks like it was a great inaugural event!
Candidate for the e-bike event with the most climbing has to the e-bike tour of Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe:
Here are some possible dates for your 2020 diary, being events we covered last year and that will take place again in 2020:
Fully Charged Live North America, Austin, Texas (All kinds of ‘clean tech’ – hopefully some e-bikes too….in the first US airing for the UK-based organisation)
E-bike Challenge Minnesota, Minneapolis 28th-29th March
London Bike Show, Excel London 27th-29th March
Sea Otter Monterey, California 16-19th April
International Cargo Bike Festival, Groningen, Netherlands 24th-26th April
Verbier E-bike Festival, Swiss Alps 13th-16th August
Now check out Part 2 with a look at the improvements to bike infrastructure and the rise of eMobility!
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