• Home
  • Content
  • Blog
  • Prince George’s County Pilot Program Permits E-bikes in the Anacostia Tributary Trail System
Posted by Gregory Maassen on December 18, 2020 - Latest revision January 10, 2021  Reading time: minutes remaining

Prince George’s County Pilot Program Permits E-bikes in the Anacostia Tributary Trail System

Good news from Prince George's County 

The Department of Parks and Recreation has extended its pilot program until February 28, 2021. The pilot allows certain e-bikes and e-scooters on select park trails in the Anacostia Tributary Trail System.  

What E-bikes are allowed? 

The pilot program enables the Department to verify that E-biking has no adverse impact on paved bicycle and pedestrian trails.

Under the pilot, e-bikes are permitted if they meet the following requirements:

  • It has at least two and not more than three wheels;
  • It has fully operable pedals;
  • The electric motor has a capacity of not more than 500 watts.

The Department has opened comments on the pilot. You can participate here.

Where E-bikes are allowed under the pilot program 

The pilot program has created a large and excellent network of trails accessible to E-bikers in the Anacostia Tributary Trail System. The trails are shown in yellow on the map below. 

Map of the e-bike pilot program in Prince George’s County. Courtesy of the Department of Parks and Recreation. 

The following trails are included in the pilot program in Prince George's County: 

  • Branch Trail from the Northeast Branch Trail to the Little Paint Branch Trail.
  • Little Paint Branch Trail from the Paint Branch Trail to and through the Prince George’s County portion of Fairland Regional Park.
  • The Indian Creek Trail from the Northeast Branch Trail to Greenbelt Road at 57th Avenue.
  • The Northeast Branch Trail from the Anacostia River Trail to the Indian Creek Trail/Paint Branch Trail junction near Lake Artemesia.
  • The Northwest Branch Trail from the Anacostia River Trail to the Montgomery County Line.
  • The Sligo Creek Trail from the Northwest Branch Trail to the Montgomery County Line.
  • The M-NCPPC-owned sections of the Rhode Island Avenue Trolley Trail in Hyattsville, Riverdale Park and College Park.
  • The Anacostia River Trail from the junction of the NE/NW Branch Trails to the Trail Wayside Area within Bladensburg Waterfront Park, near the Caboose Railroad Car.
  • The Anacostia River Trail spur along the Colmar Manor Levee to Colmar Manor Community Park.

Sign posted at the Anacostia River Trail near Bladensburg Waterfront Park where e-biking is not allowed under the pilot program in Prince George’s County.

The following trails are explicitly excluded from use by E-bikes and E-scooters during the pilot program:

  • The Anacostia River Trail in Bladensburg Waterfront Park from the Caboose Railroad Car to the District of Columbia line at the underpass of US Route 50.
  • The non-ART internal sidewalks and waterfront promenade within Bladensburg Waterfront Park.
  • The Lake Artemesia Park Trails that circle the lake.

It is commendable that DPRC started a pilot program allowing specific E-bikes on select park trails in the Anacostia Tributary Trail System. As E-bike usage continues to grow exponentially, more cyclists will use E-bikes in the trail system and elsewhere in the Capital Trail Network.

Map of the Anacostia River Trail at Bladensburg Waterfront Park where e-biking is not allowed (shown in red) under the pilot program in Prince George’s County. Courtesy of the Department of Parks and Recreation.

Harmonizing E-biking Standards

E-bikers are confronted with different e-bike usage standards within the Anacostia Tributary Trail System, as various jurisdictions regulate the system. On the National Park System (NPS) section of the Anacostia River Trail (ART), e-bikes of not more than 750 watts assist, and a motor capable of a top speed of 28 mph are allowed. Under the pilot program in Prince George’s County, e-bikes of not more than 500 watts assist are permitted on select trails. In the River Trail section between Bladensburg Waterfront Park and the southern border with Washington DC, no e-bikes are allowed.

The Enforcement of Technical Standards is Impractical

Hundreds of new e-bike models enter the market annually. New models with batteries integrated into frames, low-weight materials such as carbon, and stealth designs challenge the enforcement of restrictions based on the technical specifications of class 1-3 e-bikes. Many new e-bike models look like regular bikes, and enforcement based on the wattage and top assisted speed of an e-bike is impractical.

Screenshot of the E-bike Pilot program in Prince George’s County Open Town Hall. Click here to leave your own comments.

Screenshot of the E-bike Pilot program in Prince George’s County Open Town Hall. Click here to leave your own comments.

Recommendation #1: Apply NPS Standards to Regulate E-bike Usage on Select Trails

I recommend that M-NCPPC follow the NPS e-bike standard and allow e-bikes on select trails with a maximum assisted speed of 28 mph and a motor of not more than 750 watts where regular biking is permitted and prohibit e-biking where regular biking is not allowed. The NPS standard covers the vast majority of e-bikes sold in the US (class 1,2,3). Using the NPS standard does not require law enforcement to use any impractical requirement to differentiate between class 1,2 and 3 e-bike users, and enforcement could solely focus on the bikers’ actual speed on the trail. It will be easier for e-bikers to comply with speed limits on trail sections than to comply with certain technical specifications of e-bikes, as cyclists are often not familiar with the wattage of the motor or top speed of e-bikes.

Recommendation #2: Introduce Speed Limits in Heavy Pedestrian Traffic Areas

Speed limits could be introduced in sections that experience heavier pedestrian use such as around Lake Artemesia and south of the Bladensburg Waterfront Park.

Recommendation #3 - New Signage Along the Trail

In areas where e-biking is not allowed, signage can direct cyclists to alternative routes to reconnect with the Anacostia Tributary Trail System, where e-bikes are permissible.

In the event M-NCPPC elects to continue prohibiting e-bikes on the ART south of Bladensburg Waterfront Park, then e-bikers will benefit from well-marked detour signage to bypass the Waterfront so they can continue traveling on protected biking lanes within the Anacostia Tributary Trail System where e-biking is allowed. The same applies to Lake Artemesia where e-biking is prohibited.

Interested in E-biking on the Anacostia River Trail?

Explore our growing collection of self-guided e-biking trail descriptions.

As usual, please check the latest regulations before heading out to the Anacostia River Tributary System, as we do not provide legal advice on this website.

References

Pgparks.com. (2020). Open Town Hall | MNCPPC, MD. [online] Available at: http://pgparks.com/2707/Open-Town-Hall#peak_democracy [Accessed 18 Dec. 2020].
Nps.gov. (2020). Electric Bicycles (e-bikes) in National Parks - Biking (U.S. National Park Service). [online] Available at: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/biking/e-bikes.htm [Accessed 3 Sep. 2020] 
Nps.gov. (2020). Electric Bicycles (e-bikes) in National Parks - Biking (U.S. National Park Service). [online] Available at: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/biking/e-bikes.htm [Accessed 14 Dec. 2020].

Dr. Gregory F. Maassen

Gregory discovered e-biking after 20 years of overseas work as project manager for the World Bank and USAID. He writes about e-biking in the DMV area, loves the outdoors (white water kayaking, hiking and biking). He lives with his wife, and Sisi the house cat in Washington DC.


Favorite e-bike: Riese & Muller Super Charger with dual battery system, and 140 miles range in normal e-mode.


Gregory Maassen

FOUNDER E-BIKE LOVERS


Round Logo of E-bike Lovers with an electric bicycle and name of group

Volunteer with E-bike Lovers


Please contact us if you would like to volunteer and help with the organization of events and rides. We are also in need of writers and editors for our carefully curated website.


Join the movement and volunteer with the most inclusive and dynamic e-biking group in the region.


{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Copyright 2021 E-Bike Lovers. All rights reserved. See our disclaimer, Code of Conduct, and privacy/cookies policies.

We may receive a small commission if you purchase a product on third-parties' websites at no additional costs to you.

>