The Montgomery County Department of Parks issued a new directive on March 25, 2021, allowing e-bikes on hard surface trails in Montgomery County.
This Park Directive hereby authorizes the use of Electric Bicycles as defined in the Park Rules, as well as Electric Scooters as defined above, on hard surface trails located on parkland owned or controlled by M-NCPPC in Montgomery County, Maryland, except where expressly prohibited and posted accordingly.
M-NCPPC Montgomery County Park Directive
March 25, 2021
Hard surface trails refer to paved or "asphalt" trails. This excludes natural surface trails such as dirt trails, gravel trails, and anything of natural material.
Although originally excluded from a pilot program allowing e-bikes on biking trails, the Capital Crescent Trail is now also open to e-bikes.
What is an E-bike in Montgomery County?
According to the park's directive, an Electric Bicycle is defined in Park Rules Chapter II, Section 1(G) as a vehicle that:
- 1Is designed to be operated by human power with the assistance of an electric motor.
- 2Is equipped with fully operable pedals.
- 3Has two or three wheels.
- 4Has a motor with a rating of 500 watts or less.
Electric Bicycle users on M-NCPPC Montgomery County Parkland must adhere to the Park Rules and follow posted trail speed limits or ride at a speed "that is reasonable and prudent under existing conditions or as directed by Park Police or other authorized person."
E-bike Lovers' Take
We strongly welcome the decision by the Planning Board and Montgomery Parks to permit e-bikes on all hard surface trails. Following the pilot in 2019 allowing e-bikes on select trails, e-bikes are now welcome on asphalt trails throughout the county.
We are not sure why a limitation of 500 watts was introduced as the National Parks System has a limitation of 750 watts for e-bikes. This means that you still cannot commute from Bethesda to Georgetown with a 750 watts e-bike on the Capital Crescent Trail as part of the trail is in Montgomery County and on National Parkland.
It is also not clear whether the limitation refers to the nominal or peak wattage of an e-bike motor. Either way, who needs more than 500 watts anyways to cycle on hard surface trails?
Montgomery County's hard surface trails are now open to a vast majority of e-bike users as most e-bikes have not more than 350 watts of motor capacity. And yes, 350 watts is plenty.
The SWIND EB-01 hyper electric bicycle
compared with a Specialized Levo Turbo class 1 e-mountain bike and a high-duty Riese & Muller Delite Class 1 e-mountain bike.
Who needs so much power?
Allowed in Montgomery County
Remember Simon Cowell's accident when he broke his back on an out-of-class electric vehicle that was initially reported by the media to be an e-bike? He played with a "SWIND EB-01 hyper electric bicycle." It has a 15,000 watts (15 kw) motor and it has pedals - have a look here. This is a motorcycle that does not belong on biking trails.
In comparison, a pro Tour De France athlete may produce some 500 watts. This is plenty of power for e-biking on hard surface trails in Montgomery County.
The limit should be based on the bike class rather than motor wattage. A Class 2 bike has a max speed of 20 mph and should be the basis of the limit.