April 3, 2016

Sustainable Trails Coalition (STC) opposes legalizing electrically powered or assisted off-road bicycles (e-bikes) on any Wilderness trail anywhere in the United States.

STC’s goal is narrow. It is to restore and/or improve access to federally designated Wilderness areas for human-powered visitors, and only those visitors. We are working toward this goal in two ways.

First, STC is asking Congress to give federal agencies flexibility in allowing bicycles, hunters’ hand-walked game carriers, and parents’ baby strollers on Wilderness trails where the agencies conclude their use will conform to Congress’s original vision for recreation in Wilderness.

Second, STC is asking Congress to reaffirm the authorization already found in the Wilderness Act of 1964 that federal agencies can use hand-walked wheeled equipment like wheelbarrows, and other small-scale modern tools, to better maintain trails for the benefit of all human-powered visitors.

“E-bikes can help the disabled, elderly, and less physically fit visit trails already open to other motorized travel,” said STC co-founder and treasurer Jackson Ratcliffe. “But in Wilderness, as in many other places, there is a rigorous separation between nonmotorized trail uses and motorized ones. E-bikes are motorized. The Wilderness Act has always prohibited motorized travel in Wilderness, and properly so.”

This issue arose when STC learned recently of an unfounded rumor in North Carolina that STC is advocating for allowing e-bikes into Wilderness areas. STC hereby firmly rebuts any such rumor.

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