To the Editor:
I applaud Superintendent Schneider’s consideration of whether or to allow e-bikes on the carriage roads. I am a volunteer on the Acadia bike patrol, so I am regularly riding on the carriage roads assisting riders and walkers with directions, clarification of the rules (yes, that dog needs to be on leash, or yes, your child needs to wear that helmet), advice on routes and general information.
I am very concerned about the possibility of allowing e-bikes to flood these carriage roads. Even without them, the 47 miles of roads are already crowded with visitors seeking peace and quiet in the park’s interior. Many children are riding long distance for the first time, sometimes struggling up the hills and then finding the reward of the downhill. I cringe when I think of the five- and six-year-olds who I see enjoying the park if there is increased traffic caused by the wholesale use of e-bikes for two reasons: biker safety and enjoyment of the experience. Simply, crowded trails will not be peaceful nor safe.
In addition, the park already has the challenge in regulating the rules we have. There aren’t enough rangers to enforce the rules in place, so volunteers have to take the slack. We enjoy our job, but as it is now, despite the signage that states no e-bikes allowed, we have the challenge of discerning which riders are authorized with a permit and those who are abusing the rule. (As it is now, handicapped riders can receive a permit from the rangers at the park headquarters.)
Riders already try to sneak past despite the signage that clearly states that the e-bikes are not allowed. If new rules are imposed where riders can only use e-bikes who assist them when pedaling, I shudder to think how we could distinguish between a rider who is handicapped, who is motoring along only when pedaling, or a rider who is gleefully riding uphill without moving his or her legs.
I cannot claim to interpret John D. Rockefeller’s intentions when he decided to keep motorized vehicles off the carriage roads. However, I can speak to mine. Please don’t allow the e-bike rule to change. Leave the rule as is.