British Columbia

B.C. Parks rolls out new e-bike policy to protect sensitive ecosystems

B.C. Parks says the electric bikes allow more riders to use trails and reach areas that were previously limited to a few visitors, leading to increased pressure on sensitive wildlife and ecosystems.

Policy designating Class 2 and 3 e-bikes as motorized vehicles goes into effect immediately

An electric bike rider on the Valley of the Five Lakes trail pictured in Jasper National Park in May. B.C. Parks says electric bikes allow more riders to use trails and reach areas that were previously limited to a few visitors, leading to increased pressure on sensitive wildlife and ecosystems. (Mike Mahoney)

Electric bicycles are growing so popular that B.C. Parks has had to implement a new policy regarding their use to protect sensitive ecosystems.

The authority says e-bikes allow more riders to use trails and reach areas that were previously limited to a few visitors, leading to increased pressure on habitats.

North Shore Mountain Bike Association president Cooper Quinn said community advocates aren't surprised by the B.C. Parks e-bike policy because a similar one was put in place by Recreation Sites and Trails BC earlier this year.

Quinn said e-bikes allow people with accessibility issues to use trails they may not have been able to use before. 

"They're a great tool for different people to get out and enjoy the forest in different ways," he said over the phone. 

With potentially more e-bike users on the trails, Quinn said people could go further in the same amount of time or do more laps of the trails.

"If it's the same users able to do more riding, that potentially means more impact on the trails," he said.  

The different e-bike classifications 

The policy says that those with Class 1 e-bikes can ride on any B.C. Parks trail where mountain bikes or other cycling is already allowed, but those with Class 2 and 3 e-bikes can only ride on trails and roads designated for motorized vehicles.

Class 1 e-bikes are not considered motor vehicles under the Park, Conservancy and Recreation Area (PCRA) regulations. These e-bikes have motors that only work when the rider is pedalling, and have a maximum output of 500 watts. 

The motors of Class 2 and 3 e-bikes are capable of providing partial or full assistance by throttle. Both are considered motorized vehicles under PCRA regulations.

B.C. Parks says its primary goal is to educate the public on the new policy to generate voluntary compliance. If riders are not willing to comply, tickets up to $575 may be issued.

But, Quinn said it's up to the government to also put more funding into park management and maintenance to keep the trails from damage and degradation. 

"We need to make sure that the trails stay within their own carrying capacity and our environment stays within its carrying capacity so that we don't ruin our supernatural British Columbia," he said. 

The policy goes into effect immediately.

With files from Ashley Moliere & Matt Meuse

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