E-Bikes and E-Scooters Pilot Program

Division: Park Planning and Stewardship
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illustration of e-bikes and s-scooters sharing wys with vehicles and pedestrians Illustration

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A new six-month pilot program to allow Class I e-bikes and battery powered e-scooters on certain hard surface, hiker-biker park trails launches June 1, 2019. The draft park directive was approved by the Montgomery County Planning Board on May 9, 2019. Details on the program are outlined in the Planning Board staff memo and in the park directive

electric bicycle, Bicycle,

Background

Electric bicycles (e-bikes) and electric scooters (e-scooters) are becoming increasingly popular for transportation and recreation in the United States. They have become more affordable to purchase for personal/private use. Companies like Lime, Bird, Jump, Skip, Spin, Razor, and Lyft are deploying rentable, dockless e-vehicles at affordable rates throughout the Washington, D.C. metro area. Commuters and the general public can now own or rent e-bikes and e-scooters for short trips to places of employment, transit stations, central business districts or just for fun.  Montgomery Parks is launching a six-month pilot program to allow both personal/private and commercial e-bike and e-scooter users on certain hard-surface trails in Montgomery Parks.

Vehicle, Wheel, Kick scooter

Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has been working on launching a Pilot Program to expand dockless e-bikes and e-scooters in the County. MCDOT’s e-bikes pilot program continues to evolve to meet demand. The 2019 MCDOT pilot will span six months (with an option to extend an additional six months) and involve up to four commercial companies. While MCDOT’s pilot areas are still being finalized, they are mostly focused at Central Business Districts (CBDs) and in emerging Transit Oriented Development Areas.

Pilot Program for Montgomery Park Trails

Montgomery Parks’ is launching a six-month pilot program to study the impact of e-bikes and e-scooters on hiker-biker, hard-surface trails. The pilot includes hiker-biker trails that pass through, touch or are adjacent to MCDOT’s pilot study area, and also allow e-bike and e-scooter users to move across the full extent of a park-owned, hiker-biker trail that may be situated within Montgomery County’s pilot areas, rather than expecting a user to know the boundaries of any paper, pilot study area.

As MCDOT’s launch date is uncertain, Parks is launching its own six-month pilot e-bike and e-Scooter program on June 1, 2019. The pilot will have two phases. Phase 1 will start on June 1, and will allow for the use of personally owned e-bikes and e-scooters of certain types on certain hard-surface trails. Phase 2 will commence as soon as Parks has entered into contractual agreements with vendors to allow commercial e-scooters and e-bikes on the same hard-surface trails. It is Parks’ intention to tailor the Phase 2 portion of Parks’ pilot to align with the County as much as possible (including entering agreements with the same vendors as the County).  The Parks pilot program also includes an option to extend for an additional six months to continue to evaluate the pilot. As much as possible, Parks’ program will run in tandem with MCDOT’s. For example, Parks’ extension might match the termination date of MCDOT’s pilot.

The following hiker-biker trails are included in the Parks’ pilot program. Users of these trails will be notified of the pilot program via signs placed on the trails, website announcements and social media posts.

  • Long Branch Trail – hard surface
  • Matthew Henson Trail – hard surface
  • Northwest Branch Trail Paved Sections (within Montgomery County, not into Prince Georges) – hard surface
  • Rock Creek Trail – hard surface
  • Sligo Creek Trail (within Montgomery County, not into Prince Georges) – hard surface

Map indicating trails that are part of electric bike pilot Map indicating Trails that are part of EBike Pilot

(Click maps to enlarge)

What’s Next?

The Planning Board approved the park directive at the May 9, 2019, Planning Board Session.  The pilot program will launch on June 1, two weeks prior public notice signs will be posted along the approved trails for the pilot program, explaining how trail users can comment on the pilot program.

Note that Parks’ Pilot Program will only include Class I e-bicycles and e-scooters that operate by a rechargeable battery.  

Park trails recommended for the pilot are primarily North-South bound trails within stream valley parks. One reason for Parks to do its own pilot is that park trail users’ travel patterns are different than traditional transportation trips, and often involve going the length of trails rather than staying focused within a commercial core. In addition, Parks will first test the use of e-bikes and e-scooters on certain hiker-biker trails before potentially expanding their use to busier, hard-surface trails like the Capital Crescent Trail that have a higher potential for user conflict. Use of these trails requires more careful planning which can be accommodated with lessons learned from Parks pilot program.

How will the Department of Parks evaluate the pilot program?

The following aspects are examples of data which will be analyzed to evaluate the pilot:

  • Conflicts with existing user groups
  • Safety
  • Infractions, violations, theft and/or other observations by Park Police and Parks staff
  • Operational challenges and logistics
  • Differences between personal users and commercial users
  • Public input on items in addition to those listed above

With accurate data on actual usage and the impact of e-bikes and e-scooters on existing users and park operations, Parks and the Planning Board can make informed decisions about whether these dockless e-vehicles should be: a) studied further; b) allowed permanently on the hiker-biker park trails studied; c) allowed for certain types of users only; d) allowed on additional trails not included in the Parks Pilot Program (such as the busy Capital Crescent Trail); e) not allowed on hiker-biker trails should there be valid reasons; or e) considered and/or implemented in ways other than those noted above.

Draft Park Directive

Chapter 5, Section 14 of the Park Rules and Regulations (adopted July 2017) prohibits the riding of motorized vehicles on park trails, except when used for a disability or as authorized by permit or in areas expressly designated by Park Directive and posted accordingly. Currently, prohibited vehicles include electric bicycles, motorized scooters, Segways, hover-boards or similar motorized personal locomotive device. To authorize e-bikes and e-scooters on the hiker-biker park trails identified in this Pilot Program, a Park Directive is required.

A Park Directive is a policy tool described in Chapter 1, Section 3 of the Park Rules and Regulations that allows for a change to the Park Rules and Regulations in one county to allow certain activities on parkland for a certain time in that county. The draft Parks Directive presented to the Planning Board on May 9, 2019, will be the first in Montgomery County and will establish a Parks Pilot Program to authorize using e-bikes and e-scooters on certain, M-NCPPC, Montgomery County hiker-biker (hard-surface) park trails named within this memorandum. The Parks Pilot Program is intended to last for six months with the possibility of an additional six-month extension or for a duration that matches MCDOT’s Pilot.

This Park Directive only applies to Class I e-bicycles. Class II, Class III, and Class IV e-bicycles will remain illegal to ride on park trails.  (See below.)

This Park Directive only applies to e-scooters that operate by a rechargeable battery. E-scooters powered by combustible (gasoline) engine, as well as any type of E-skateboard and E-hover-board regardless of motor type, will remain illegal to ride on park trails and are not included in the Pilot Program.

Electric Bicycles (e-bikes) Definition

E-bicycles can be classified into four broad types:

Class I electric bicycles (Figures 4 and 5) have pedals and users can engage the electric power only when they are pedaling, to give them a boost when climbing a hill for example. Class I e-bikes have a maximum speed of 20 mph.

Class II electric bicycles (Figure 6) often do not have pedals (although some do), and the user engages the motor using a throttle on the handlebar, like mopeds and motorcycles. Class II e-bikes also have a maximum speed of 20 mph.  The electric motor on a Class II e-bike can function independently of whether the rider is pedaling. A rider can choose to pedal, ride using only the throttle, or both.

Class III electric bicycles are similar to Class I e-bikes but have a maximum speed of 28 mph.

Class IV electric bicycles (Figure 7) are typically powered by a combustible (gasoline) engine and can often travel as fast as a moped or motorcycle.

EBike

Figure 4.  Step-through Class I pedal assist
e-bike

Ebike

Figure 5. Regular bike on left, pedal assist
e-bike on right

NOT ALLOWED

Throttled assisted electric bike

Figure 6. Throttle-assist (Class II) (not allowed)

NOT ALLOWED

Gasoline powered electric bike

Figure 7.  Gasoline Powered (Class IV) (not allowed)

Electric Scooters (e-scooters) Definition

An e-Scooter is a vehicle that: (1) is designed to transport only the operator; (2) weighs less than 100 pounds; (3) has single wheels in tandem or a combination of one or two wheels at the front and rear of the vehicle; (4) is equipped with handlebars and a platform designed to be stood on while riding; (5) is solely powered by a battery-powered electric motor and human power; and (6) is capable of operating at a speed of up to 25 mph. 

 

Electric Scooter

Figure 8. Typical e-scooter

Electric Scooter

Figure 9.  Typical e-scooter

NOT ALLOWED

self-balance electric scooter

Figure 10.  Self-Balance Electric Scooter (Not allowed)

 

Public Input

The public will be encouraged to leave comments on the pilot program throughout the trial dates. It is recommended that comments are posted on the Montgomery Parks Open Town Hall webpage.  You can also email Montgomery Parks. All comments submitted will be noted for public record and reviewed as part of the final analysis of the pilot program.

Project Calendar

The chart below shows the approximate plan schedule. The timing may be subject to change.

DATE

TASK      STATUS

2019

May 9, 2019

Montgomery County Planning Board approves the Park directive for a six-month pilot program to allow Class I e-bikes and battery-powered e-scooters on certain hard surface, hiker-biker park trails.

June 1, 2019

The pilot will go into effect on June 1.

Contact Us

Ideas and comments from the public are welcome throughout the process. The public is welcome to:

  • Check this web page for additional updates as the study progresses
  • Contact the Montgomery Parks Customer Service Center- 301-495-2595
Last Updated: May 30, 2019