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Michigan commission could approve proposal to allow e-bikes on state park trails

The Michigan Natural Resources Commission is considering a proposal for a one-year trial allowing certain types of electric bicycles on state park trails.

Bicycle trails and pathways managed by the Parks and Recreation Division would be open to class 1 and class 2 electric bikes. Those are e-bikes with motors that can only be engaged at speeds below 20 miles per hour. Once the bikes reach that speed, the motor stops assisting.

Ron Olson, chief of parks and recreation for the DNR, said trail users on e-bikes would be expected to follow trail etiquette.

"We ask, like we do pedal bikers, to stay off mountain bike trails when they're muddy or after a rain because ... trails get more damaged," Olson said.

The order would not allow bicyclists in areas of state parks where they're not currently allowed. It would only allow e-bikes in some areas where, currently, pedal bikes are allowed. "You can only operate these on natural surface trails where currently bicycles are permitted," Olson said.

The DNR says allowing e-bikes on the trails would bike bicycling more inclusive and welcoming for people with disabilities.

The commission could approve the order at its next meeting in mid-July. That would kick off a year-long trial of e-bikes on state park trails.

Christopher Johnson is married with two daughters. Born and raised in Detroit, he is a floating fill-in host at Michigan Public.
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