We’ve recently learned that DCR is on the verge of a regulation change that would allow Class 1 electric bicycles access to all DCR trails currently open to traditional mountain bikes.
Please send an email to the below elected officials to make sure that DCR develops an electric bike policy that meet the needs of each – and all of its properties – including the Blue Hills.
Electric bikes can be beneficial in many locations and uses, but we’ve recently learned that the Department of Conservation and Recreation is on the verge of a regulation change that would allow Class 1 electric bicycles access to ALL DCR trails currently open to traditional mountain bikes, including those in the Blue Hills.
Please email the following state officials and tell them, “e-bikes should not be allowed in the Blue Hills.” Feel free to personalize with additional comments.
- DCR Commissioner Jim Montgomery: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides: email@example.com
- Governor Charlie Baker (online form, no direct email available): https://www.mass.gov/forms/email-the-governors-office
Please also copy (via email “CC” line) the Friends of the Blue Hills at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can keep track of the support on this issue.
We recognize that e-bikes can be a climate-friendly transportation option for people to commute, recreate, and promote physical and mental health, especially for people who are less physically able. However, DCR’s proposed approach to regulating e-bikes does not adequately address safety issues and environmental impacts, and its lack of enforcement capacity will likely harm visitors and the natural environment.
DCR does not plan to provide the public with an opportunity to comment on the current draft of this rule change before it is enacted, so your voice is urgently needed today.
Why the DCR’s E-bike Policy is a Bad Idea for the Blue Hills
Safety risks: There is not sufficient evidence to determine the safety of operating e-bikes on natural surface trails. Electric bikes could increase safety risks for riders and other park users because e-bikes allow riders to travel faster than they could otherwise, potentially increasing risks to other trail users. Many natural surface trails are too narrow for safe shared e-bike use. A sound e-bike policy would require the DCR to evaluate the risks of e-bikes before they open all parks to e-bike use.
Environmental damage potential: Operating e-bikes on natural surface trails is also highly likely to accelerate environmental damage in sensitive areas of the Blue Hills, which is home to many endangered species.
Before changing the rules, DCR must conduct an environmental and safety analysis of e-bike impacts that includes suitability of trail segments to accommodate e-bikes safely, enforcement capacity, impact on other users, erosion, habitat degradation, wildlife disturbance, and cumulative impacts to the natural environment.
Lack of enforcement capability: DCR lacks the capacity to enforce this new use of e-bikes on its properties. With few staff in the parks, the DCR would not have the ability to enforce which class of e-bikes is used, speed limits and the use of rogue trails.
Photo credit: Andrea Aparicio