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Electric bikes have gained popularity as a convenient and eco-friendly mode of transportation, and their presence on public lands, including Pennsylvania State Game Lands, has raised questions about their legality.
In this guide, we will clarify the regulations and guidelines surrounding e-bike usage in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has recently finalized its internal policy regarding e-bikes on state parks and forest lands.
The DCNR’s policy distinguishes e-bikes from traditional bicycles, defining them as bicycles equipped with an electric motor that assists the rider while pedaling.
Are electric bikes legal on PA State Game Lands?
Under the new policy, e-bikes are allowed on trails that are already open to traditional bicycle usage.
However, there are specific guidelines e-bike users must follow to remain compliant with the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code:
- Weight: E-bikes must not exceed 100 pounds.
- Speed: E-bikes must not exceed 20 miles per hour when using the electric motor.
- Motor Power: The motor on an e-bike must not exceed 750 watts.
- Functional Pedals: E-bikes must have fully functional, operable pedals.
E-bike users should be aware that on non-motorized trails managed by the DCNR, the use of throttle-only functionality is not permitted. Riders are required to pedal on these trails.
Where Are E-Bikes Permitted on PA State Game Lands?
The DCNR’s policy regarding e-bikes is clear in specifying where e-bikes are permitted. E-bikes can be used on DCNR-managed trails that already allow traditional bicycles.
Additionally, they are allowed on motorized trails and public-use roads managed by the DCNR, unless specifically marked as prohibited for bikes.
However, it’s important to note that state forest roads and trails not open to biking, such as natural areas, designated hiking trails, and those marked as closed to biking, also prohibit e-bikes.
Understanding local regulations
It’s worth noting that various public lands in Pennsylvania, including federal lands, local parks, game lands, and preserves, may have different requirements related to e-bike usage.
Therefore, before planning a trip to any public land, it’s advisable for e-bike users to check the specific guidelines for their destination to ensure compliance with local regulations.
E-Bike Safety and Etiquette
Safety and courtesy are paramount when operating e-bikes on public lands. Some general tips for e-bike users include:
- Knowing the specifications of your e-bike and where it can be ridden
- Maintaining safe speeds, considering trail and weather conditions, and being aware of other trail users.
- Staying to the right and passing on the left.
- Letting other trail users know when you’re approaching with a friendly greeting
- Avoiding distractions and not impairing your hearing, such as by wearing headphones or earbuds,
- Obeying all trail and road signs
- Slowing down in congested areas.
- Yielding to pedestrians and using special care when passing horses
- Wearing helmets, which are required by law for individuals under the age of 12 and recommended for bicyclists of all ages,
- Riding a single file when passing or being passed
- Staying on the trail and not creating new paths or cutting switchbacks
- Avoid blocking the trail and move to the side when taking breaks to allow others to pass safely.
The use of electric bikes on Pennsylvania State Game Lands is regulated by the DCNR’s policy. Which permits e-bike usage on designated trails and areas consistent with the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.
E-bike users should familiarize themselves with local regulations before embarking on their outdoor adventures to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all trail users.
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