Electric bicycles would be permitted on Oregon beaches as soon as this summer, under a proposal by the state.
Oregon State Parks’ law changes would permit e-bikes on the sand between the low-tide waterline and vegetation line along portions of the coast, according to Katie Gauthier, legislative and policy coordinator for the state agency. A push by e-bike riders has prompted Oregon State Parks to clarify which of its trails, as well as beaches, are open for e-bikes.
Where the agency would permit e-bikes on trails would depend on the size of the trail. Popular trails that are wide enough for e-bikes include:
- The Banks-Vernonia State Trail near Portland, and
- The OC and E Woods Line State Trail in and near Klamath Falls.
Current State Parks rules allow bicycles, but not e-bikes, on about 130 miles of trails and roads winding through state parks around Oregon, Gauthier said. The agency allows bikes, but not e-bikes, on many of Oregon’s beaches.
Oregon law classifies electric-assisted bicycles as bikes with electric motors under 1,000 watts and incapable of speeds faster than 20 mph on flat ground.
Oregon law also stipulates that the rider must be 16 or older. Oregon State Parks still would prohibit electric vehicles without pedals from zooming along beaches and park trails.
Advances in e-bike technology have made them an increasingly popular mode of transportation in the past five years, said John Dodd, an owner at Eugene Electric Bicycles. The shop at 545 High St. specializes in e-bike sales and service. Occasionally, customers ask about cruising beaches on the bikes, and they are most interested in buying e-bikes that also are fat bikes, or bicycles with tires 4 inches wide or wider.
Dodd said he welcomes more clarity from Oregon State Parks regarding where e-bikes are allowed, including beaches.
Under its proposal, Oregon State Parks would allow e-bikes on trails and roads 8 feet wide and wider in public parks the agency oversees. It doesn’t have any such trails in Lane County, but Gauthier said the rule change would apply to about 30 miles of beaches in the county.
The agency would keep e-bikes, and pedal-powered bikes, off beaches and trails near Western snowy plover nests along the coast. The shorebirds nest between March 15 and Sept. 15. State and federal wildlife agencies have the Western snowy plover listed as a threatened species.
Oregon State Parks is taking public comment on the e-bikes proposal until May 18 and plans to hold six public hearings during the next month. Three public hearings are set for cities on the Oregon Coast. The closest to Eugene will be on April 25 in Salem.
The Oregon State Parks and Recreation Commission, which sets policy for Oregon State Parks, likely will vote on the proposal at its June meeting.