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:
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.
The following trails are included in 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:
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.
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.
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.
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].
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.
FOUNDER E-BIKE LOVERS