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FOA Issues Statement on NPS E-Bike Policy Change

Friends of Acadia President David MacDonald issued the following statement on Wednesday, Sept. 4, concerning a recent policy announcement by the National Park Service allowing electric motorized bicycles (e-bikes) anywhere regular bicycles are permitted. With a few specific exceptions, motorized vehicles have not been allowed on the park’s more than 50 miles of gravel carriage roads.

“Friends of Acadia has concerns about the new Department of Interior policy statement that would broadly allow electric motorized bicycles (e-bikes) in national parks, including on Acadia’s carriage roads.

“It is extremely challenging to apply a national-level policy like this within thirty days across hundreds of unique national park units, each with its own history and special features.

“We would encourage park officials to consider the original intentions and agreements when the carriage roads were first conceived, constructed and donated to become part of Acadia – specifically for non-motorized use.

“While we applaud the fact that e-bikes open up recreational opportunities to new audiences and we support the current Acadia policy of allowing them on the park motor roads,  FOA believes that the park would benefit from a broader community conversation and a chance to hear from the public, including carriage road users – walkers, equestrians, traditional bicyclists – before determining whether this directive must be implemented as is, or whether it can be waived, modified, or scaled back to best apply here at Acadia.”

55 Responses to “FOA Issues Statement on NPS E-Bike Policy Change”

  1. Elizabeth Secor

    i hate the idea of e bikes allowed on the carriage roads … the speeds they can travel would be disruptive and unsafe and would that open the door for sedge way use ?

    • Debra Hardick

      Ebikes by law can not exceed 20 MPH- I routinely see people exceeding 30-35 MPH on regular bikes.

      • Jeff Magidson

        To be more precise, the electric assist does not engage at speeds over 20 MPH. However an e-bike can be pedaled and/or coast down hill at any speed just like a conventional bike.

    • Brian

      Some folks on road bikes travel at speeds greater than those achieved by e-bikes, particularly on downhill stretches. I have had people from road bike groups tell me that they regularly cruise at 25 mph.

    • G Rindfuss

      At 61 years old and mildly disabled I rode a couple of the carriage trails with a family group of similar age 2 years ago. I made it up the hills, but with a lot of discomfort. I was not alone. An ebike would have made the ride much more enjoyable for many of us. The rules would limit the bikes to pedal assist only… you gotta pedal or the motor does not run. And limit the motor assist to 20 mph. I am an old fart and I can easily pedal at 15 to 20 mph for a short while on flat ground, without a motor. Downhill I bet 30+ mph is not too hard. A crowd of florescent spandex-clad semi-pro riders blew by us a couple of times at speeds of at least 20 mph, and up hill at that and with much more noise and disruption than a few oldsters humming along on an ebike would make. They pretty much rudely drove us to the side of the road with loud “on your lefts” so they could stay in “formation.” It’s not what you ride, its how you ride that matters. Many folks are too healthy to be considered disabled but limited enough that they would find trying to ride carriage roads difficult or impossible with a regular bike. Why deny older or physically challenged riders the enjoyment of the National Park carriage roads that their tax dollars help to support?!

  2. Robert Lombardo

    Really bad idea to have them on the trails. I ride them a lot from April till snow. Bad idea because there is already enough bike traffic and some of this traffic is very inexperienced riders. These riders have a hard enough time maintaining safe travel without having to navigate with much faster bikes [who may or may not know how to safely ride a regular bike let alone one with a motor]. Then of course there are the horses, carriages and walkers to be concerned about. If a bike has a motor, and that is an electric motor, then maybe the State of Maine needs to come up with a special license and a test for using one of these. Bad idea period.

    • Robert Compton

      If you look at the people who support ebikes and those who do not, there is one common ingredient…an age difference. I’ve been cycling my whole life. I’m 62 now, still in shape, and love my pedal assist ebike. No throttle on my bike, that’s a motorcycle. Europe has been way ahead of America on this topic.
      They have sorted out the ebike classifications and have made access rules accordingly.
      Riding ebikes is not cheating. Cycle a mile in my old clip- in shoes all you young dudes and then tell me how you feel about ebikes when your knees are going, going, gone. Set a speed limit. Prohibit all throttle assist ebikes on the carriage roads but don’t prohibit pedal-assist ebikes. We pay our own way with hard peddling. Ebikes = freedom for every older cyclist.

  3. Jane Fagerstrom

    I do not want to see e-bikes on Acadia’s carriage roads. Over the past 34 years, my family and I have visited Acadia. We have witnessed the increasing number of visitors. I am not an avid cyclist and the last time I rode my bike on a carriage road, the bikes speeding past me made me quite nervous. The addition of a motorized bike would make this worse. I also strongly object because of the beautiful history of the carriage roads, peacefulness and quite away from motorized traffic. I hope the park management considers this carefully.

  4. Nick Miller

    A few thoughts.
    1. Require speed governors to limit max speed to typical pedal bicycle speed – 10 mph?
    2. Limit e-bike use to people who have driving licenses with disabled permit.
    3. Any bike rental business must agree to providing training on e-bike use for any rental.
    4. Coordinate with MDI towns to identify maximum permitted e-bikes for rent.
    5. After drafting and implementing restrictions, review first year experiences.

    • Brian hamor

      I was born in Bar Harbor 73 years ago and I believe this is a terrible policy for Acadia National Park. I have hiked, walked and biked the carriage roads for many of those years. Mr. Rockefeller will rollover in his grave when this goes into affect. The park needs to abide by his wishes.

      • Gabrielle Graham

        Assistive e-bikes are not the same as the motor cars about which Mr. Rockefeller made such rules! Apples and oranges!

    • Gabrielle Graham

      The first well-considered response that I’ve seen on this topic. Thank you, Nick Miller.

  5. Linda

    I have been riding an ebike on the carriage roads, with permission, for the last 2 years. Anyone who doesn’t want the ebikes on the carriage roads doesn’t understand what they are-they are just like a regular bicycle, pedaled like a regular bicycle, but with a little battery help when the pedaling gets hard such as up hills. As a senior citizen, I feel you are discriminating against older people who do not have the physical ability to ride a regular bicycle anymore but would still like to experience the beauty of the carriage roads. These bikes do not make noise and do not run on their own. They need to be pedaled!

    • Greg Canon

      Please don’t pull out the D word (discrimination). I too am rapidly nearing senior status and my joints are reminding me of it every day. There will be a day when I can no longer hike up Sargent, run Around the Mountain, or do many other things I’ve enjoyed at Acadia for decades. When that happens, I don’t expect the rules to be changed to allow me to use motorized conveyance to get to those wild and special places. That’s just the natural passage of time, not discrimination.

      • Gabrielle Graham

        Assistive e-bikes are not the same as the motor cars about which such rules were made!

        • Greg Canon

          Missing the point. All I was saying is that this is not DISCRIMINATION. Discrimination is when you can’t do it because your skin is purple and you go to bed with frogs while I can do it because my skin is green and I go to bed with otters. Meanwhile, back on the topic at hand… folks who are mobility impaired have always had the option of riding a horse-drawn cart.

  6. Laurie Woo

    I personally would love the chance to have a little assist on the hilly parts— I can, of course, walk a regular bicycle up these hills (as I’ve done in the past), but my enjoyment would be greater if I could putt-putt up the more challenging (to this 65-yr-old woman) rises on the carriage roads. I can assure you, I would NOT be speeding. It would re-open an activity to me I have liked in my past better- fitness years.

    • Sarah Mangs

      I would personally be thrilled to ride my hybrid bicycle on the carriage roads. It is silent, and I would only use the assist when I need it. After my stroke a few years ago, coupled with asthma and respiratory challenges riding my hybrid bicycle would greatly improve enjoyment of the park and improve my overall health. Trust me, people need not be concerned of my speed, as most on regular bicycles pass me easily. I’d be more than happy to buy an additional license for use in the park, but I am not disabled enough to be eligible for a handicapped drivers permit. Please consider supporting this initiative, especially for people with health conditions like me and not dismiss it simply because it is a change.

      • Linda C Rooney

        Exactly the point! It seems not many people have actual experience with or near e-bikes.

  7. Brian Harris

    I love to ride my bikes as hard and fast as I can. I love flying down hills and taking turns as fast as I can ! However, when I ride the carriage roads I always slow down and enjoy everything about Acadia. I respect all users of the carriage roads.

    Don’t give people the opportunity to become racy on the carriage roads. Some E bikes can go 25 to 30 mph !
    DON’T give us the opportunity!
    DON’T allow E bikes on the carriage roads!

    • Gabrielle Graham

      Maybe try controlling yourself rather than the old people whom these rules largely affect?

  8. Rachel Fenton

    Thank you FOA for weighing in on this important issue. I wish your statement would have taken a very strong position against e-bikes on the historic carriage roads. In fact, having met with the park superintendent at your Washington, DC event last spring, I am shocked that this is even being considered. At the time, he expressed his strong opposition to e-bikes on the carriage roads. FOA needs to support this position. I’m a summer Seal Harbor resident and have seen way too many actual crashes on regular bikes (non-e bikes) and near misses around Jordan Pond House. I cannot imagine how exponentially e-bikes will increase accidents and destroy our treasured carriage roads. I’m fearful of taking my young kids on the park carriage roads, whether it’s for a bike ride or simple walk to the Pond House, with e-bikes allowed!! I live in DC and am a former House Legislative Director. I’m more than happy to lobby on this issue.

    • Gabrielle Graham

      As a disabled physician — bed-ridden from 2005 to 2007 with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome — I now need an assistive e-bike to go where I used to easily go on my regular bike in years past. I would truly welcome the opportunity to speak with you about the differences between e-bikes and mopeds, and to discuss regulatory measures for e-bikes that would allow people like me to continue to enjoy the park without decreasing public safety, nor resulting in any deterioration of our beloved carriage roads. Please get in touch!

  9. Constance Mensink

    Horrible idea. Setting a dangerous precedent can be abused. Concerned about walkers, strollers, and bikers who enjoy the quiet slow pace of the park roads. Not to mention turtles, snakes and other wildlife who slowly cross those trails.

  10. James Buttitta

    There are a number of us folks who welcome being able to use an ebikes on the carriage roads. Maybe we are older folks with arthritis or other health issues that require a little help to enjoy nature like we used to, maybe we are just out of shape and needed an assist to get back into the riding habit. If you read the order it clearly states that they must be used in a peddle assist mode only. Responsible ebike owners like myself will only engage the assist when needed. No one will be barrel assing about at high speed. I must point out that I was once almost hit by a jerk on a mountain bike, so bad behavior can be encountered among all user groups, and there is no evidence whatsoever that ebike riders are worse than others.
    I am frankly disappointed by FOA’s position on the subject. When more people can use the parks, there will be more people to support the parks, and we all know they really need more support.
    I also understand that with environmental issues in particular, many of us, myself included, feel utter dismay by the Trump administration policies. But remember the old saying “Even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then”

  11. Wade Walton

    The original intent of the carriage roads should be respected. I do not want e bikes on the carriage roads. It’s impossible to create a blanket rule that applies everywhere, and an exception needs to be made to preserve the purpose of these roads, as well as the experience.

  12. Nicole Herz

    No e-bikes should be allowed on the carriage roads. They are too fast, and not compatible with the slower traditional bikes, the pedestrians and runners, and most definitely not with the horses.
    The carriage roads are supposed to be a respite from the fast paced world, and a safe place for people of all ages to enjoy without being afraid of motorized vehicles.

    • Brian

      Traditional bikes are not slower than e-bikes. Road bikers routinely travel at speeds of 25mph. Some people on road bikes are the ones who speed egregiously on the carriage roads and create a hazard for themselves, other bikers, and pedestrians.

  13. Paul Bourassa

    People who are vehemently against e-bikes are simply ill-informed and have likely never ridden one. I have been to Acadia annually for nearly 30 years. I can assure you that I rode much faster as a young man on a non motorized bike that I ever have on my e-bike. Furthermore, they do absolutely no more damage that traditional bicycles. It is a bike tire rolling on the gravel. Period. As for the horses, ANY bike should stop and allow the horse to pass. Enforce speed limits instead of discrimination against older individuals or those with compromised health.

    • Nicole

      I have ridden e-bikes, and know that you can go quite fast. Too fast for the carriage roads.

    • Robin

      I was just at Acadia riding the carriage roads on my horse last weekend. I had 2 instances of bicycles barreling towards me and my friend from a distance going at least 30 miles an hour. When we nicely signalled and asked for them to please slow down, they simply kept right on coming and yelled…yeah, yeah, yeah and barreled past me and friend. Thankfully our horses did not spook, but the cyclists were obviously mad that they were being asked to slow down, so they didn’t. No one polices the rules now, so e-bikes will be no different.

    • Ralph Pearce

      Well that is the description I been looking for. Bicycling has been a major part of my life, now at 65 and a blown out knee I would not be riding if I did not have assistance. E-bike is not the issue its responsibility. I challenged myself at younger ages to hit my top speeds, I don’t do that anymore. I just enjoy tootling on my e-bike. I also have a 2006 Mustang GT that will do 160mph, but I don’t.
      RESPONSIBLITY, comes with Age. As far as pedestrians and horses and people walking dogs on long leashes all we have to do is be aware, with some courtesy we can all enjoy.

  14. Hugh Caggiano

    I am with Paul Bourassa. There is basically no difference between a regular bike and an e-bike other than a weaker rider can keep up with other fit riders. The e-bike allows my wife to ride with me rather than always being off the back and struggling and having to stop and rest all the time. There are very few flat trails or roads in Acadia and this terrain makes it very difficult for older riders. Any bike can go fast down hill and once you reach the maximum assist speed it will make you go no faster. They are not noisy and do not make as much noise as the horses and damage the trails a lot less. I don’t believe there will be hoards of e-bikers terrorizing the populace. I think everyone will be able to get along without having to stay in the early 20th century

  15. Gabrielle Graham

    As a former physician, whose lifelong vitality was taken away suddenly by the development of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome following a bad flu, I have a different perspective. I can now testify to the absolute necessity for those with physical limitations to be able to use mechanical aids. An e-bike is one such aid, without the use of which I would simply have to stay home! E-bikes can be used by those who need them in a manner no different than a regular bike is by those who are more able bodied. E-bikes are heavy, and their gear ratios are not built for speeding. They are NOT Mopeds! Rather, they are a way for an aging or injured population to continue to enjoy outdoor activities.

    I encourage those who are considering the implementation of any blanket legislation eliminating the use of e-bikes to envision themselves as being suddenly physically unable to climb hills on their regular bike, and to think about what it would be like to have their ongoing fate decided by an ill-considered adherence to tradition, the end result’s most likely being for them to have no option but to spend their remaining years, even decades, sitting on a carriage road bridge and simply watching others ride by.

    Legislate the speed, the requirement for simultaneous pedaling, etc, etc. Do NOT eliminate the use of this necessary device for those less fortunate!

  16. Shayla White

    I prefer the parks original policy of no motorized vehicles. Most use the carriage roads for walking, running, family quiet time.. I prefer the trails because bicycles aren’t permitted (but they still overuse them with no repercussions) I go into the park for peace and quiet.. Ebikes leave no room for either.. Ive encountered them on numerous occasions the past few years… So that means I’ve had uncomfortable interactions with those out there with disabilities… Now recreational use is permitted.. Pretty sure this wasn’t what Rockefeller had in mind… Who has right of way.. Horses or ebikes? Guess who wins?

  17. Nancy L O'Neal

    I understand both sides of this issue. Silent e-bikes capable only of hill assist wouldn’t be any more disruptive than a regular mountain bike, as long as respect– for the Park and for other visitors– comes first.

  18. Nancy

    Perhaps more information is needed about the speeds of e bikes and options that could be offered. We are long term supporters of Friends of Acadia and very interested in this topic. I am 63 and ride the carriage roads all summer long. It has been one of my favorite life experiences for many years. However, I know that I will not physically be able to ride Round the Mt. and other hilly roads at some point. I think about this often as I ride. There must be a way to make the carriage roads safe and accessible for older bikers and those with disabilities. This week I saw a man on an ebike (low to the ground, 3 wheels) who passed me on the Witch Hole circuit. He was not going fast nor did he pose any safety concern. The two close calls I witnessed that day as I rode were from dogs and young children on bikes, both of which are part of the carriage road experience. I actually saw an accident last year from a road biker going too fast who ran into a hybrid biker. I am strongly in favor of continuing a discussion of what type of bike enhancement could help older people and those with disabilities continue to enjoy the carriage roads, while maintaining safety for all.

  19. Jeff Magidson

    People need to understand there are two classifications of E-bikes.
    The first and most common type of e-bike is peddle assist: The mostly silent electric motor only engages when the rider is peddling and it just makes peddling easier, especially when going up hill. These bikes help less fit people go up hills and enjoy bike riding, besides that, they are not much different from regular bikes.

    The second classification of e-bikes (much less common) has an accelerator that allows the rider to propel without any peddling. In my opinion, these would be much more problematic on the carriage roads and are NOT ALLOWED under the new mandate.

  20. Theresa Goulette

    I bring my horses at least 4 trips a summer and find that about half the bikers are very respectful and have read the actual rules. Safety has to be the first priority when making any decision like this. My last trip I was on a very steep section when a man hauling a yellow baby cart behind him came racing down the hill he never said passing or slowed down and as he is passing he sees that a large group of bikers are coming at him in the other direction so he slams on his brakes and starts to skid and cuts in front of me and is about a inch from the horse in front of me. My horses are very well trained but he put all of us in danger. So I guess my point would be that the battery on the bike doesn’t really matter because if we don’t enforce the rules of the carriage roads they become dangerous for all of us. So maybe we can find a way to hold people accountable who do not follow the rules or a better way to make sure the bikers have read and understand the rules. I always find myself telling bikers they are not supposed to be riding in this area and there is a giant sign that says no bikes allowed. It is not just bikers I usually get a dog or two coming after me and my horse because it is not on a leash so again it all boils down to a better way to have everyone follow the rules and keep our park safe for all to enjoy.

  21. Wendy Fehlauer

    I have been coming to Acadia for 45 years and the carriage roads have given many the respite needed to allow ourselves times to get away from the hustle and bustle of life. I now live on the island 1/2 year and find we often capitulate to new ideas to include everyone , but the intent of these roads were not to exclude but give a real understanding to get away from the frantic speed of life . To appreciate, and respect nature . This new rule would be one that might be good for my aging body that can no longer use conventional bikes, but there ARE seasons of life and times to not make it about ME and MY NEEDS , but FOR the general good for all and the continued health of the park !! If this were a perfect world it might work if people all abided by rules, but unless there is a ranger on every road at multiple places people will push the limits – there will be speeding bikes, accidents and carelessness of others lack of mobility . Younger children will not react quick enough and the seniors who are still able to walk slowly will be taking too great a risk to walk on the paths . Awful idea and I hope it can be amended by the parks intent of the GIFT we were given .

  22. Margaret Robinson

    We are thrilled that peddle assist bikes are now allowed. This is going to allow more people to enjoy the carriage trails and Acadia.
    So nice for the regular people to win ONE in Bar Harbor!

  23. Kent Tableman

    The are four issues that need to be addressed in order gain acceptance of the responsible use of Class 1 e-geared peddle assist mountain bikes:
    – What the definition of Is is
    – Implicit bias
    – Lack of knowledge
    – Lack of experience

    Let evidence prevail. The responsible use of Class 1 e-geared peddle assist bikes do no more damage to the environment than their mechanical only cousins.
    Through educational efforts user conflicts between user groups will be no different with the additional user category.
    This whole issue has a heaping portion of implicit bias. These machines are muscle powered, no peddle no go. They are not self propelled. You stop peddling, it rolls to a halt. They help you peddle easier like the mechanical gears help you peddle easier. It’s not a motor or an engine, it’s an e-gear.

    • Michael

      I hate to break it to you but e-gear bikes have a motor. Here is the definition of a Class 1 e-gear…. “Class 1 bikes have a motor (max 750w) that assists while you’re pedaling, up to 20 mph.”

      An e-gear is not something that magically makes you faster with fairie dust. It uses a battery and there is motor in it. I have ridden these bikes and wen you pedal and the motor kicks in, they take off way faster than my regular bicycle.

  24. Keith Jones

    The National Park Service’s recent policy directive relating to the use of electric bicycles (“e-bikes”) in national parks does not indiscriminately allow the use of all e-bikes. It carefully distinguishes between e-bikes equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling (pedal-assisted Class 1 and Class 3 e-bikes) and e-bikes equipped with a motor that may be used to propel the bicycle even when the rider is not pedaling (self-propelled Class 2 e-bikes). The directive makes explicit that on roads where motor vehicles are not allowed, such as the carriage roads in Acadia National Park, only pedal-assisted, and not self-propelled, e-bikes will be permitted.

    This Park Service policy directive makes eminent common sense. As the directive explains, pedal-assisted e-bikes are permitted in order to “provide a new option for people who want to ride a bicycle but might not otherwise do so because of physical fitness, age, or convenience, especially at high altitude or in hilly or strenuous terrain.” As an elderly man myself, who no longer has the stamina, strength, and energy required comfortably to ride a normal bicycle on hilly carriage roads, I fully agree with this rationale and strongly applaud the new Park Service policy allowing the use of pedal-assisted e-bikes on the carriage roads.

  25. Michael

    I am 65 and ride a bicycle. I also have a little experience with e-bikes. There is no doubt that the e-bike is different. It goes faster for sure. Stopping distances are longer. And, it definitely has more mass. That means if I do run into someone or something, that extra mass will do more damage.

    The park currently has an alternative for those who cannot get around on a bike or walk and that is using one of the horse-drawn carriages. If the park only allowed rented e-bikes for use that were designed specifically for use on these trails by limiting the speed or amount of assist and if the bikes were only for use by those with a handicap designation that would be an acceptable compromise. Otherwise, the park may lose what makes it special now.

    Once the cat is out of the bag, it will be hard to put back. And, what will be the next thing to allow – electric off-road scooters?!?! They don’t have a motor. I mean, Teslas are electric. They are not allowed. Just because the motor is electric doesn’t mean anything anymore to me.

    The other alternative to consider is developing separate trails only for use by the electric bicycles and scooters and whatever. That way they are segregated from the population of users who have been using the park as it is currently designed.

  26. M Hermann

    I’ve been riding ebikes for 2 years and routinely get passed by regular bikes. This idea that they are dangerously fast is simply untrue. You have to pedal a Class 1 bike to make them provide an assist, which stops at 20mph. So if you’re going to ban ebikes based on speed concerns you need to ban all bikes. These are really nice bikes and get more people outside and experiencing the park. They should be welcomed.

  27. Susan Murphy

    The Carriage Roads are already congested. At peak times of year, they can be dangerous, especially for younger and less experienced riders (of which there are many). Why would you introduce a bicycle that can go 30 miles an hour? This is adding an element of speed, and potential loss of control – in an already unpredictable environment.
    It’s also not in keeping with John Rockefeller’s intention of how the carriage roads should be used. They were a place of retreat from mechanized travel.
    Allowing e-bikes will have a profound impact on the carriage roads. The carriage roads are unique – a place where you can spend a day with just the hoof and the foot carrying it forward. Let it be so.
    Thank you,
    Susan Murphy

  28. Harry Noel

    Hear! Hear! to comments from Keith Jones. I enthusiastically support allowing e-bikes (electric assist bikes) on the carriage roads at Acadia.
    I am about to turn 76. I have been a bike-rider for about 70 years, with an estimated 150,000 miles “in the saddle”. About 10 years ago, my spouse and I visited Acadia, over 2 fall seasons, and biked all the carriage roads. Last year, we gave up our regular bikes, and bought e-bikes, so we can continue to ride, as we have all our lives. We love them, they give us an opportunity to continue to do something that is healthy, joyful, and fulfilling. And, we plan to return to Acadia next Fall, if the Park allows e-bikes.
    REgular bikes are already allowed. With allowing e-bikes, the future is here (visit Europe sometime).

  29. Jan Jukkola

    No e-bikes on the Carriage Roads. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. clearly stipulated that motorized vehicles would never be allowed on the Carriage Roads. The Carriage Roads that took thirty years to build and more than thirteen years to restore is unequaled in the National Park System. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was an experienced horseman who wanted to travel by horse and carriage on MDI roadways without encountering motor driven vehicles. I have spent many reverent hours walking on the Carriage Roads in wonder and awe of the miraculous planning and details that went into these roads. The roads are shared by walkers, joggers, road bikers, horses and carriages. They can get very congested at times and adding e-bikes to the mix would have a harmful effect on the roads and the habitats of the flora and fauna found within the park. I did some research on e-bikes and learned that a system of classifying e-bikes is being adopted by several states as a means of regulating them. The criteria for Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3 e-bikes can be found online. There is also the question of the mid-drive motor or hub-motor. One is definitely louder than the other. The roads were designed and given to Acadia National Park as a source of spiritual inspiration. Some of the Carriage Roads are on private property. Even if e-bikes were allowed on some of the Carriage Roads with stipulations they would be impossible to enforce. I actually saw a man swimming and washing his hair with shampoo in Eagle Lake near the boat launch in July despite the “No Swimming” sign. I am a member of the Friends of Acadia and I know how much this organization has done to maintain and preserve the Carriage Roads. Please say “NO” to e-bikes on these historic and beautiful roads.

  30. Jan Jukkola

    I have learned a lot about e-bikes in the last few days. I am not against e-bikes. I am against e-bikes being allowed on the Carriage Road System in Acadia National Park. All the knowledge about e-bikes in the world will not change the fact that e-bikes have motors and motorized vehicles are not allowed on John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s carriage roads.

    • Keith Jones

      There appears to be widespread misunderstanding of what John D. Rockefeller, Jr., intended for the carriage roads. His desire was expressed in a 1932 letter to the Secretary of Interior, which is quoted at pages 141-42 of the delightful book, Mr. Rockefeller’s Roads. The letter stated that “for a period of at least twenty-five years [the carriage roads] will be open only for the use of horses, horse-drawn vehicles and pedestrians and not for motor traffic.” It further stated, very explicitly, that Mr. Rockefeller did not want his views to preclude future changes and develpments in the use of the carriage roads: “I would not be willing nor would it be in the public interest were it possible, to seek to impose my views in the matter for all time.” The twenty-five year period mentioned in the letter expired in 1957, more than 60 years ago.

  31. Phyllis

    The policy change allowing ebikes on the carriage trails is disheartening.

    According to park staff I chatted with on our most recent annual visit, exceptions allowing ebike use by disabled bikers were already in place, but general use of ebikes– which had occurred early in the season before the Park explicitly prohibited ebike usage on the carriage roads– proved disasterous. FOA need only talk to park rangers who were stationed on the carriage trails in June ’19 to hear descriptions of inexperienced kids weaving through crowded trails at high speeds.

    Yes, people who cannot meet the physical demands of pedaling a conventional bike up Sargent Mountain will now be able to enjoy the glorious view and the long glide back down. So why not open that experience to even more people, and allow mopeds, motor scooters, and dirt bikes? Or aren’t there reasons for keeping the unpaved parts of this natural wonder of a park motor-free– not just the magnificent heights, but also the easily accessible lake-side areas so popular among novice riders and families with young kids?

    Motorized bikes–even those that require pedaling–simply do not mix safely with conventional bikes, let alone with hikers, runners, and equestrians.
    Ebikes are much heavier than bikes that aren’t loaded down with motors and batteries, and they do not require as much skill, experience, and attention in the rider. Their burgeoning popularity has transformed biking on public bike paths (Hudson River Bike Path in NYC, I’m looking at you!); nowadays, you can’t predict when a distant speck in your rear-view mirror (everyone bikes with a mirror, right?) will suddenly transform into a machine, twice your speed and weight, obliviously zooming by inches away.

    Of course it is possible to operate an ebike safely, responsibly, and considerately. But while folks who would ride that way– say, older people who want to enjoy what they could easily have managed twenty years earlier without a motorized assist, or who want to keep pace with their grandkids– tend to be the ones voicing their support for ebikes, they are, unfortunately, not the riders one primarily encounters on bike paths. In fact, I learned about the new policy allowing ebikes on all federally-owned bikeable trails from a newspaper article about the dangers (mostly speed-related) posed by etrailbikers to themselves, to conventional bikers, to hikers, and to wildlife. This article mentioned that the new policy affected all national parks, and my heart sank.

    It’s ironic that the excellent maintenance of the once-neglected carriage roads followed their greatly increased usage which in turn was caused by the surge in popularity of trailbikes a couple of decades ago– and that now, the latest development in trailbikes presents more of a danger than a recreational opportunity.
    As a long-time lover of the carriage trails, I remember my disappointment when– early in their growth in popularity among bikers, long before ebikes, and shortly after I purchased my first trailbike– the southern section of the carriage trails, which lay on private land, was permanently closed to bikes (while remaining open to pedestrians). I recall that this was because of biker behavior– speeding along the narrow wooded narrow paths, zooming around curves, and thereby endangering walkers. Then, private landowners regulated trail use to maintain safety. Now we have the government opening public trails to hazardous use with a one-size-fits-all national policy. As a contributer to FOA, I would be happy to assist in any efforts to keep the carriage trails enjoyable for all.

  32. M.Reed

    I want to see an unequivocal statement against e-bikes by FOA. Here’s my reasons:
    1) This proposed ruling has come about as the result of lobbying by interested parties, many of which have financial interests such as the importation, sale and rental of e-bikes. It has nothing to do with the enjoyment of National Parks.
    2) The use of e-bikes is the thin end of the wedge that will likely later include mopeds and dirt bikes once lobbying groups realize that the NPS can be coerced into allowing motorized vehicles where they were formally excluded.
    3) The inference that e-bikes will help the physically challenged is a smoke screen. If the NPS wants an amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act to help access to parks for the physically challenged, then the NPS should go work that aspect for the physically challenged only, not support the generalized use of e-bikes for everyone who thinks it might be exciting.
    4) The generalized use of e-bikes (not just for the physically challenged) undermines the tradition of physical exercise establishing a healthy body – healthy mind connection and the achievement of difficult goals through perseverance and endurance. The appeal of e-bikes is largely to those who want instant gratification without the effort.
    5) The generalized use of e-bikes will alienate many who have been the NPS’ most fervent supporters to date and will jeopardize the funding stream for NPS. Why should hikers and traditional cyclists support an organization that allows them to be buzzed by fast moving traffic?
    6) With regards the discussion on Type 1, 2 or 3 e-bikes, does the NPS really want something more to regulate? How will this be enforced effectively? The answer is it won’t and it will only be a matter of time before this is out of control.


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