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Discussion of allowing e-bikes on Central Oregon trails sparks debate

E-bikes are becoming increasingly popular
E-bikes are becoming increasingly popular

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Electric-assisted bicycles, better known as e-bikes, are becoming increasingly popular in Central Oregon, and some have even taken to trails and roads outside the city limits.

Electric-assisted bicycles (e-bikes) are subject many of the same trail and pathway rules and regulations as bicycles without an electric assist motor.

However, e-bikes must, under Oregon state law, also adhere to the following:

  • Have wheels in contact with the ground and include a seat or a saddle
  • Have no more than three wheels
  • Have pedals to assist as well as an electric motor
  • Go no faster than 20 mph
  • Have a power output of no more than 1,000 watts
  • May not ride on sidewalks
  • Youth under 16 must wear a helmet

The US Forest Service and BLM set rules that e-bikes are not allowed on their non-motorized lands. That has sparked controversy among e-bike riders, who want to be able to ride in those areas.

Supporters say in general that wider permission for e-bikes use would open more areas of public land to those who need a bit of an assist at times, while critics say it could prompt conflicts, even crashes unless kept separate from regular mountain bike trails.

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Carly Keenan

Carly Keenan is a multimedia journalist and producer for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Carly here.



  1. More motorized vehicles in the forest please. We don’t have enough roads and trails as it is. Let’s make more to provide equitable treatment to the ebike crowd.

  2. If you don’t have an e-bike yet, you probably will in the next 5-10 years. A high quality mountain e-bike like a Specialized Turbo Levo is a game changer for long rides with a lot of elevation change. It changes those 30 mile grueling painful rides into a fun experience.

    Hard tail guys probably won’t switch but just about everybody else will. It’s just a matter of time.

  3. What some may not know is that there are hundreds of miles of single track where motors are allowed in the Millican / FT. Rock area. One may need to purchase an OHV permit, but that is not much. Free camping with outhouses are also available in several areas. Northern most area is year around, Southern area has seasonal closures.

    1. Exactly. There are already plenty of places for those that need electric or gasoline assist. I think this is really about aging baby boomers that can’t figure out how to ride a little less distance in the same amount of time every year. The world has always been about baby boomers in many of their minds. The beauty of a bicycle is that it doesn’t need fuel other than donuts, coffee, maybe a burger or whatever. And by all means, swapping your car addiction for an ebike is a great thing, but they don’t need anymore motorized recreation areas for them.

  4. The Bend police could make $1000 a weekend issuing tickets to dumb kids riding ebikes on sidewalks. It’s not difficult, ride in the bike lane with traffic…

    1. I ride on the sidewalk as much as possible. Reason being is I have my child in a trailer. But, I’m super attentive to anyone on the sidewalk and i don’t go faster than a walking speed. Basically I’m taking my kid out for a sightseeing trip, so going fast would be counterproductive. I stop and stand next to my bike and let anyone on the sidewalk pass me while I’m at a standstill. So i guess you gotta take it on a case by case basis. When i don’t have the trailer behind my bike and its just me, I’m never on the sidewalk if i can help it.

    2. At my intersection, the commuters use the bike lane, as their own personal turn lane.
      If cars can use bike lanes without $1000 tickets,
      Then e-bikes should be allowed on bike trails.

  5. Will the recreational e bikers demand that they can take a pallet jack or forklift in the weight room when they cross train in the winter? What next?

  6. I have a 3 year old e bike. No problems with it. Only people cry like babies. Remove the dogs from the public not the bikes. Dogs do more harm than bikes. I say people are confused about reality. Dogs spread sickness. Mentally and fiscally. This is just another yahoo making things up so they can have control over others. Earth belongs to nobody. And shall never be governed.

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