ASK MBA: DOES THE ADA JUSTIFY RIDING E-BIKES ON “NO E-BIKE” TRAILS?

Is it okay?

TIMES ARE A-CHANGIN’

Q: I read with great interest your December 2021 article, “Navigating the Ever-Changing E-Mountain Bike Landscape.” I have been mountain biking since 1983. I am now 69 years old and recently developed heart problems. My cardiologist said that if I want to continue mountain biking, I need to ride an e-bike to keep my heart rate low. So, I sold my beautiful Pivot Mach 5.5 and bought a Specialized Levo SL e-bike. I wish to keep riding with my friends on my new e-bike on “no e-bike” trails. I believe that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) allows for me to do this. There are selected quotes from the ADA that support my claim. 

Do you know of anyone else who is using the ADA to justify riding e-bikes on “no e-bike” trails? Any insight you can offer on this would be greatly appreciated. I hope to keep mountain biking with my friends on all trails for many more years to come.

Dale Ahrens

Carbondale, Colorado

A: Yes, we do know riders who use the ADA’s Public Accommodations Articles in defense of riding on trails where e-bikes are “not allowed.” It is important to know the laws and what qualifies as a disability. You can see the entire text of the ADA, Public Accommodations, Title III at www.ada.gov. It should go without saying, but it’s imperative that riders without a disability not abuse these regulations. As it stands, the debate about using e-bikes is ongoing. It is our responsibility as riders to stay up to date with the latest info and be mindful of what could change. As far as we are concerned, it is even more important to plan ahead by being conscious of the surrounding area and trail difficulty, and to be realistic about what can happen while riding electric bikes in the mountains. We want all trail users to safely enjoy time out on the trails we love.

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