Cape Cod National Seashore Considers E-bike Usage

WELLFLEET – The Cape Cod National Seashore is evaluating whether or not to allow electric bicycles.

Discussions began after the U.S. Department of the Interior issued an order in August to increase recreational opportunities for e-bike riders throughout the National Park System.

E-bikes are variations of bicycles that are partially or fully aided by onboard motors.

“We’ve got four areas that currently have bicycle use and are evaluating those to determine which ones would be appropriate for e-bikes to travel on,” said Cape Cod National Seashore Brian Carlstrom.

Carlstrom said the vehicles provide an opportunity for individuals with limited mobility to experience the park on a bicycle.

“We want to be responsive to our visiting public and we know that with older populations continuing to be a bigger part of our demographics it is just one more way for them to get out and enjoy the national seashore,” Carlstrom said.

A public meeting was held last week to gather input from the public on the potential use of e-bikes at the national seashore.

Carlstrom said safety is the biggest concern among residents and visitor, along with seashore staff.

“We already have really well documents concerns relative to bikes – and on the Provice Lands trail in particular,” Carlstrom said.

Bicycle accidents account for more than half of the injuries that occur within the national seashore.

“Before we allow a new use we want to make sure that we are going to do so responsibly,” Carlstrom said.

Input gathered from the public is being evaluated as part of the process to determine where the vehicles may be used.

Some types of e-bikes can reach speeds upwards of 20 mph.

The National Seashore does have a posted speed limit of 10 mph.

“That is really challenging to enforce, but we do have that in place,” Carlstrom said.

There are areas along the Province Lands trail that are hilly, have sharp turns and can get sand covered.

“That speed limit is intended to help people stay safe,” he said. “Whether or not they adhere to it is a real challenge for us, and we do know that speed is a factor in many of the accidents.”

Carlstrom said the recently renovated Head of the Meadow bike trail may be a good candidate for e-bike usage. The trail is wide and has been resurfaced.

A portion of the Cape Cod Rail Trail, which is managed by the state, runs through the National Seashore. Through the management agreement with the national seashore state regulation apply.

The state currently does not allow the use of the e-bikes on the trail, but there is pending legislation at the State House which could allow the use of the vehicles.

A decision on the implementation of e-bike use may be made by the end of the month, according to Carlstrom.

About Brian Merchant

Brian Merchant grew up in Central Massachusetts and now lives in South Dennis on the Cape. He has been part of the news team in the NewsCenter since the spring of 2014. He studied radio broadcasting at the University of Tennessee.
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