E-Bikes

Michael J. Vandeman, Ph.D.

June 20, 2024

 

 

     Brain-dead lawyers and land managers are allowing e-bikes on unpaved trails in violation of NEPA (in the U.S.) and CEQA (in California). They think that they are just like ordinary mountain bikes. If you believe that, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you.

 

     Wild animals don't like to be around humans. Isn't that obvious? So where humans are recreating, the animals lose access to their preferred habitat, at least during the day. (But often mountain bikers are using lights to ride also after dark.) That is habitat destruction! Just as a mountain bike allows one to travel several times as far as a hiker or equestrian, an e-bike extends one's range even farther. That is a significant impact!

 

     Mountain bikers kill animals and plants on, under, and next to the trail. E.g. in the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California, Berkeley, are two snakes (a federally Threatened Alameda whipsnake, and a ringneck snake) that were killed by mountain bikers (the latter on a trail closed to bikes). (And don't forget that insects are animals, too.) Since an e-bike significantly extends a mountain biker's range, permitting e-bikes on unpaved trails is a significant impact!

 

     Riding a bike significantly increases one's weight (pressure on the ground), and hence the force applied to the soil and the erosion that you cause. An e-bike is even heavier, and therefore causes significantly more erosion. An e-bike also increases the speed that you can travel, and hence your momentum, erosion, and the potential of injury to other trail users. Class 2 e-bikes can reach 20 MPH, class 3, 28 MPH. It's extremely unlikely that the police can enforce a 15 MPH speed limit, and even if they could, it would require even more damaging motorized access by the police.

 

     E-bikes are powered by extremely hazardous lithium ion batteries, which have caused numerous devastating, deadly, unpredictable explosions and fires. With global warming upon us, do we really want to increase such threats to people and parks? Are you prepared to pay for the consequences of your very unwise decision?

 

     And, once again, mountain bikers are attempting to pass legislation that would permit bicycles in Wilderness, claiming that this would be harmless. One wonders why mountain bikers are too lazy -- or in too much of a hurry -- to walk….

 

     There is really only one solution consistent with the protection of people and nature, which is to restrict bicycles to pavement.