The emergence of electric bikes, or “e-bikes,” has brought up issues on where these vehicles should be permitted to ride.
Oregon law defines e-bikes as a vehicle that has an electric motor under 1,000 watts and travel at less than 20 miles per hour.
With that definition, e-bikes currently are not allowed to be used on certain Oregon Parks and Recreation Department trails and roads, including areas such as the Moiser Twin Tunnels trail.
As of now, e-bikers are limited to where they can ride, especially regarding outdoor recreation, but there’s a plan in place to change this.
ORPD has proposed a revision to the Oregon law that would allow e-bikes to be used on trails and roads that are eight feet or wider, and along select areas of the ocean shore.
However, no decision will be made until June, after six ORPD public hearings. The Oregon State Park Commission will then review the proposed change and make a final decision.
The first of six hearings for this e-bikes proposal was in Hood River at the Hood River Public Library on April 23.
David Spangler, park manager for East Columbia River Gorge, explained that at this meeting there was quite the support for ORPD’s amendment change to the Oregon law.
“There was a large amount of support by the community and the meeting went well,” said Spangler. “But that didn’t come at all as a surprise to me, considering the importance of outdoor recreation to this community.”
At the meeting, those in attendance discussed the proposed amendment by ORPD that would give state parks flexibility to govern e-bike use on park property.
Here’s an example scenario of what was discussed at the meeting on April 23, stated by a press release from ORPD: “E-bikes would not be allowed to operate on coastal trails within western snowy plover management areas, but may have leeway on trails that narrow from the eight feet or wider rule.”
“With the level of advocacy and how active our community is with outdoor recreation, there’s a lot of confidence on our side of the rule change heading into June,” said Spangler.
After the meeting in Hood River, ORPD took to Redmond on April 24, Salem on April 25, Bandon on April 30 and Newport on May 1 for four of the final five meetings.
The final meeting, before the public comment period is closed on May 18 was in Warrenton on May 7.
May 18 will be the final day for public input; comments will be accepted until 5 p.m.
Comments can be submitted online at www.oregon.gov/OPRD/RULES/pages/index.aspx.