California State Parks Tighten Noose On E-Bike Use

Craig Sap, the District Superintendent of the Angeles District California State Parks, signed an order on September 13, 2017 that closes all State Park trails within the Angeles District to electric-motorized bicycles. The ban on electric-motorized bicycles (also called e-bikes, eMTBs or electric-assisted bikes) took effect on October 1, 2017. The parks closed to electric-motorized bicycles include popular hiking, mountain biking and equestrian trails including Cheseboro, Ahmanson Ranch and Sycamore Canyon.

The order explains that electric-motorized bicycles are “impacting the unique trail and backcountry experiences afforded by the District and e-bikes are an emergent technology generally inconsistent with the park experience that may have negative impacts on the special resources and regional wildlife found within the Angeles District.” You can read the order by clicking here.

While the order will illicit outrage from e-bike owners claiming they have been banned from State Park trails, that statement is not totally accurate. The order closes trails to motorized bicycles, not their riders. The operators of those vehicles are still welcome to hike, bike (human powered) or ride a horse on the trails. It is the motorized bike that is “generally inconsistent with the park experience” that has been banned.

The Angeles District States Parks (brown shaded) no longer permit the use of electric-motorized bicycles on their trails. Will Channel Coast and Orange Coast districts see increased e-bike traffic? Most likely.

I tried to warn you
Riders who purchased electric-motorized bicycles for use on State Park trails in the Angeles District will now have to travel to neighboring districts to find trails where their bikes are welcome. But how long is that going to last? My hunch is that neighboring Channel Coast District and Orange Coast District (as well as county parks in the region) will follow the Angeles District’s lead in restricting electric-motorized bicycles as they experience the same problems stated in the order.

My advice remains to not purchase an electric-motorized bike unless you plan to operate it on Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) trails, on bike paths or on the street. Believing that your local trails will remain open to e-bike use could be a very expensive mistake if that is the only place you plan to ride.

That electric-motorized mountain bike that you purchased last month for $5k is not a write-off, however. After fitting it with different tires and firming-up the suspension, you will have a bike that is superior to most e-bikes intended for road-only use.

So you just dropped six grand on a sweet e-bike and can’t ride it on your local trails? All is not lost, friendo. A few mods can transform the bike so it is not a total loss.

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