Friday, November 17, 2017

NPS Updates Policy on E-Bike Use on the Towpath Trail

The National Park Service has recently updated their policy on the use of electric bicycles (also known as e-bikes, ebikes, or pedal-assist bicycles) on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. From their web site:

Operating a motor vehicle is generally prohibited on trails within Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP). In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act however, persons with disabilities may use a "Other Power Driven Mobility Device (OPMD)" such as an e-bike.
  • Disabled persons may use e-bikes rated at 1 horsepower or 750 watts, or similar OPMDs in areas open to pedestrian use wherever possible.
  • Until recently, the park required that disabled persons obtain a free permit prior to use on the trail. This requirement has been discontinued.
  • Disabled persons wishing to use an e-bike on the Towpath Trail may do so and there is no requirement to obtain a permit or otherwise explain the nature of their disability.

This policy applies to motorized wheelchairs as well. See:

for more information.

The Cleveland Metroparks classifies an electric bicycle as an "Other Power Driven Mobility Device" (or, "OPDMD"), the same as a motorized wheelchair, and permits their use on the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail and other All-Purpose Trails within their jurisdiction provided that the device is required because of a person's mobility disability. Their official policy states:

Representatives of Cleveland Metroparks, including staff and volunteers, shall NOT ask an individual using a wheelchair or OPDMD questions about the nature and extent of the individual's disability. In accordance with the [US Department of Justice] regulations, representatives of Cleveland Metroparks, including staff and volunteers, may ask a person using an OPDMD to provide a credible assurance that the mobility device is required because of the person's mobility disability.

Cleveland Metroparks shall accept the presentation of a valid, State-issued, disability parking placard or card, or other state-issued proof of disability as a credible assurance that the use of the OPDMD is for the individual's mobility disability. In lieu of a valid, State-issued disability parking placard or card, or State-issyued proof of disability, Cleveland Metroparks shall accept as a credit assurance a verbal representation, not contradicted by observable fact, that the OPDMD is being used for a mobility disability. A valid disability placard or card is one that is presented by the individual to whom it was issued and is otherwise in compliance with the State of issuance's requirements for disability placards or cards.

We reached out to the Summit Metro Parks to determine their policy on e-bike use on the Towpath Trail. Their response was that "We don't permit the use of e-bikes on our trails, unless used as OPDMDs." It would appear that this policy is similar to that of the Cleveland Metroparks above, although a significant clause in their complete Rules & Regulations states that "OPDMDs must be operated at a speed of five (5) miles per hour or less." It is not clear if this applies to e-bikes when used by people with mobility disabilities; we suggest you contact them yourself if you need to obtain further clarification.

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