EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — The Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) announced Tuesday, the use of electric bicycles or e-bikes on DCNR trails is now allowed effective immediately in state parks and forests.

According to DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn, an e-bike is a bicycle that has an electric motor to help the rider when they are pedaling.

“DCNR received more than 640 comments from the public on the draft policy. Based on the review of the comments we have made some minor adjustments and will now move forward, allowing e-bikes on trails already open to traditional bicycle usage on the lands managed by the department, as long as users follow some guidelines,” Adams Dunn explained.

Adams Dunn noted the guidelines are consistent with the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code and that e-bikes must:

  • Weigh no more than 100 pounds;
  • Not exceed 20 miles per hour using the motor;
  • Have motors that do not exceed 750 watts;
  • Have fully functional, operable pedals.

DCNR says the policy allows e-bikes to be used on DCNR-managed trails where traditional bikes are allowed.

State forest roads and trails that are not open to biking which would also prohibit e-bikes include:

  • Natural areas
  • Designated hiking trails marked yellow or orange
  • Trails or roads specifically marked closed to biking

Adams Dunn said e-bike users must propel themselves by pedaling on non-motorized trails; the use of the throttle-only function is not permitted on non-motorized trails managed by DCNR.

E-bikers should check the specific requirements of lands open to the public in Pennsylvania, such as federal lands, local parks, game lands, and preserves, for their policies on e-biking.

According to DCNR, safety and courtesy should always be a priority when biking. Bikers should know the type and specifications of the device they’re riding and where they can ride it.

The DNCR says bikers should maintain safe speeds at all times, consider trail and weather conditions, and always be aware of others around them. Other safety tips include:

  • Don’t impair your hearing by wearing headphones or earbuds.
  • Obey all trail and road signs.
  • Slow down in congested areas if you’re on wheels and yield to pedestrians.

The DNCR also says it’s important for e-bikers to be aware of the battery storage capacity on their e-bike and available charging options. E-bikers should not assume trails open to e-bikes, include charging stations.

When taking a break, move to the side of the trail to allow others to pass safely and expect the unexpected. Humans and animals can be unpredictable, especially in the wild.

A FAQ document has more information about the e-bike policy on the DCNR website.