Electric bicycle users do not yet have the go-ahead to ride on non-motorized trails that allow traditional mountain bikes.
Despite a flurry of e-bike news and the possibility they might be allowed alongside mountain bikes on some trails, the Bureau of Land Management must still go through a planning and environmental review process to make the change, BLM Public Affairs Specialist for Southwest Colorado Eric Coulter said.
"Be patient as we work through the regulatory side," Coulter said. "As soon as we have information we'll get it out."
The BLM website makes clear that visitors can use, "Class I (e-bikes) on BLM roads, trails and designated areas where motorized use is allowed." This update came in response to a bulletin released last week from BLM acting director William Perry Pendley.
That bulletin only gives guidance on how the land management agency plans to implement an order from Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt to allow e-bikes on the same trails as non-motorized bicycles.
A list of frequently asked questions attached to the bulletin does give local field managers the discretion to authorize e-bike use on non-motorized trails.
"E-bikes should not be used on a trail or road that is currently limited to non-OHV or non-motorized use only, unless a BLM District or Field Manager issues a decision authorizing their use in accordance with applicable law," the memo said.
Coulter said in order to open non-motorized BLM trails to also allow e-bikes, some regulations will have to change in Washington, D.C. In order to make those changes, Coulter said the BLM will have to go through a process that will include public comment and a National Environmental Policy Act review.
The amount of time it takes to change these types of regulations varies, Coulter said.
It can be as little as a few months to over a year, he said.
Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association Vice President Chris Muhr said he was glad there would be an opportunity for public comment.
"That's the reason we were so dead set against the process as it stood," Muhr said.
COPMOBA has not taken a position on the addition of e-bikes to local trails in and of itself, Muhr said.
It had objected to making a change to allow e-bikes without going through a public process. Muhr said COPMOBA is discussing the future of e-bikes on local trails, but it is difficult to do so without knowing what the federal regulations will be.
"E-bikes are here to stay," Muhr said. "They're fun. The question is how is it going to change the characteristics of the trail."