National Parks Services (NPS) announced on August 30 that President Donald J. Trump has issued an executive order allowing electric bikes in National Parks.
According to the press release from NPS, “This new policy will enable visitors to use e-bikes, low-speed electric bicycles with power assistance, allowing them on park roads, paved or hardened trails, areas designated for off-road motor vehicle use and where traditional bikes are allowed.”
Dr. Keanon Alderson, professor of business, said he believes this will be a great way to attract visitors and increase business at national parks.
“I am a big believer of giving people choice. The chances of attendance going up are higher because it gives people something new to do. Maybe they have been to the same national park for years but now with this they have a chance to do it in a completely different way” Alderson said.
Alderson’s only concern was the unintended consequences of the new notion. He brought up the importance of park officials putting the law under a 30-50 day implementation to evaluate its success.
Danielle Dagan, planning research associate at the Great Basin Institute at Joshua Tree, said electric bikes have not yet had a major impact on that national park.
“We have very little trail in the park that bikes are permitted on currently,” Dagan said. “We don’t see a lot of bike use as of right now; I suspect because the park is fairly sandy. I do not think we are going to see much electric bike use (in the future), but we will see.”
Dagan said because of the landscape of Joshua Tree National Park, they do not anticipate changes to the park in order to accommodate electric bikes.
“We do not have any plans to add more trails at this time as we do not have a huge number of bicyclists,” Dagan said.
Cooper Strull, sophomore business major, said he appreciated national parks and the opportunity to bike in them.
“National parks are a very underrated piece of America’s culture. Not many people value or visit them as much as they should. Bike riding is a great way to take in the surrounding nature because you can control your speed and see more at a faster pace,” Strull said.
Strull added, however, that he was not a fan of the new proposal regarding electric bikes.
“I am not sure I agree with the electric bikes; it defeats the purpose of experiencing nature. What makes national parks so special is how untouched they are; bringing technology into them devalues the experience,” Strull said.
Despite the mixed responses to the allowance of electric bikes in national parks, the new proposal could help bring new people into the parks to enjoy nature.