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SDMB on e-bikes

1 Jun 2022 10:08 AM | Kirk Astroth (Administrator)

Some recent chatter on social media about SDMB's neutrality on the e-bike issue has generated a LOT of passion and feedback. We thought it appropriate to weigh in here on the blog to offer up some points of clarification and information.

  • SDMB has no policy or stance on e-bikes. E-bike restrictions or permissions reside with land managers. See our webpage for where e-bikes are allowed and where they are not permitted.
  • In the past, SDMB has consciously decided not to take sides on this issue and risk polarizing our membership.  We have never surveyed our members to see how they feel about e-bikes, but even if we could survey 100% of our members, we are not confident the results would provide any definitive guidance on a stance for us.
  • SDMB has instead decided to focus on our core mission of building trails, maintaining and protecting trails, and trail access for mountain bikers. Our focus is advocacy, outreach education, trail development and marketing of mountain biking.
  • Some have argued that by not taking a stance, we are "anti-ebike." Rather, SDMB board members themselves are split on this issue, as are our members. A recent study by the Arizona Trail Association showed how divisive this issue has become with several user groups. For example, the results showed that across all major user groups, participants on average had an unfavorable opinion of policies that would allow e-bikes on non-motorized trails.
    "The data shows a polarized divide between survey respondents who support and oppose ebikes on the AZT, with less than 10% of survey participants remaining undecided on the topic. Both camps tended not to sympathize with arguments coming from the other side, with 64% of those in support of e-bikes not seeing any issues with them being allowed on the trail and 87% of those opposed to e-bikes not seeing any benefit to them being allowed."
  • If you have time and the interest to get involved beyond posting on social media, we encourage you to get involved with SDMB's Advocacy Committee to learn more about our efforts and how to bring about changes in policies related to recreational use in the Tucson area. Feel free to contact Kent Loganbill, SDMB Advocacy Chair. 
  • For those who want to go direct to the source and change the Pima county policy, one way to advocate is to go (and keep going) to Board of Supervisors (BOS) and Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission meetings. The BOS is the ultimate decision-maker here. And the Parks Commission makes recommendations about changes to park rules. Better yet, if you know a County Supervisor let them know you’d like to serve on the Commission and advocate from within.
  • As an advocacy organization, SDMB also actively participates in the Network for Arizona Trails which includes Federal land managers, local county and municipality land managers, user groups, and advocates. E-bikes has been a consistent topic of discussion and debate. You are encouraged to get involved with NAzT and contribute to the work of this group to address e-bike use throughout Arizona. See more here.
  • The US Forest Service has classified Class 1 e-bikes as "motorized." This land manager apparently has decided to exclude e-bikes from non-motorized trails because they believe they fall into the same category as motorcyles and other motorized travel. This USFS guidance is similar to what the National Park Service (NPS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decided, in that local districts have the ultimate say to allow e-bikes on non-motorized trails or not. E-bikes are currently allowed on some trails and on all state land trails in Arizona. Users are responsible for being aware of where e-bikes are allowed as well as prohibited.

Land management agencies and local riding areas where E-Bike are or are not allowed to ride:

Agency

Local Riding Areas

E-Bike Use Allowed?

U.S. Forest Service

Santa Catalina Mtns (Mt. Lemmon), Redington Pass, Santa Rita Mountains

NO

National Park Service

Saguaro Natl Park: Cactus Forest Trail, Hope Camp Trail

NO

Pima County

Tucson Mountain Park, Sweetwater Preserve, Enchanted Hills, McKenzie Ranch, Big Wash Trail, Colossal Cave Mountain Park, Painted Hills, Tortolita Mountain Park

NO

*Multiple Agencies

*Arizona National Scenic Trail (statewide)

NO

Town of Marana

Dove Mountain Trails, Tortolita Preserve

YES

City of Tucson

100-Acre Wood Bike Park

YES

AZ State Parks

Catalina State Park, Oracle State Park

NO

AZ State Land Dept.

Fantasy Island, Honeybee Canyon, 50-Year, Willow Springs / 24 HOP Course

YES


  • The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) applauded the USFS for finalizing the ruling and incorporating some of IMBA’s recommendations, but isn’t pleased with how the decision will reclassify non-motorized trails to motorized trails when e-bikes are allowed. IMBA is also divided on the issue of e-bikes and where they should be allowed, but is differing to land managers to make the determinations based on various inputs and suggestions from MTB groups, like IMBA. See more here.
  • Finally, SDMB is open to any ideas that grow ridership in a safe and sanctioned manner which utlimately supports bringing greater resources to trails and outdoor recreation.
For more details on the e-bike issue, refer to our December 11, 2021 blog on the subject that can be found on the SDMB webpage.

© 2018 - Sonoran Desert Mountain Bicyclists -

SDMB is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization (Tax ID#27-4499320)

PO Box 65075, Tucson AZ 85718


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