E-Bike Etiquette and Trail Access

October 25, 2023

E-bikes are growing in Michigan! We’re excited to see it — e-bikes are a great way to extend the benefits of bicycling to more people, and to get around efficiently and affordably. The average price of a new car in March 2023 was over $48,000. With typical prices ranging from $1,500 to $3,000, e-bikes can replace many shorter car trips for a much more reasonable cost. This is especially important for younger people who are starting their careers and may not be able to fit rent, student loans, and a car payment into their monthly budget.

LMB has advocated for Michigan to join several other states, including Colorado and Minnesota, who are investing in the transformative potential of e-bike incentives. By lowering the upfront cost barrier of switching to an e-bike, incentives can make e-bikes accessible to the people who benefit most from lower transportation costs.

That said: e-bikes are also a big transition, and newer riders may not always understand the different classes of e-bikes or where each can be used. We want to make sure e-bike riders are prepared to ride safely and share roads and trails appropriately.

In March, LMB submitted a position statement to the Michigan DNR about e-bikes on natural surface trails in Michigan, saying in part, “… we understand the DNR is moving towards a policy change to allow Class 1 e-bikes on natural surface non-motorized trails in Michigan, and to allow adaptive bikes including Class 2 e-bikes for those with a disability in need of accommodation. We support this increased access for people who will benefit from the assistance of an e-bike,” provided the DNR takes appropriate steps to learn from other states, educate trail users, incorporate public comment, evaluate impacts, and engage with the disability rights community.

LMB has also prepared an info and etiquette handout for e-bike retailers and rental locations (at right) and is anticipating the release of an e-bike safety curriculum from the national organizations PeopleForBikes and League of American 

Bicyclists. More info and links to both will be available at LMB.org/EbikeSmart

The key points of e-bike etiquette:

Practice courtesy, communication, and common sense. It’s easy to go too fast on an e-bike! Start out slow, know your limits and stay in control at all times. Practice kindness and empathy.

Yield to walkers and slower bicyclists. E-bike riders should slow down and warn by bell or voice “On your left!” when passing. You’re required by MI law to yield and warn on sidewalks.

Yield to horseback riders. Stop, Speak and Stand Back when you encounter an equestrian. Stop to give the horse and rider time to pass, Speak to communicate your presence and location, and Stand Back to give the horse space — move off on the lower side if possible, and don’t hide behind a tree.

Categorised in: