Western South Dakota's Only Ranch Station
Austin Goss

E-bikes on the Mickelson Trail discussed Tuesday

PIERRE – A Senate committee rejected a proposal Tuesday to permit unrestricted use of electric bicycles (e-bikes) on the Mickelson Trail, a renowned over 100-mile-long trail in the Black Hills.

The state’s Game, Fish and Parks Department, who sought the change, said that the proposal was in line with their goal of getting more people outdoors.

Currently, only class-1 and 3 e-bikes are permitted on the trail. Class-2 bikes, which have a throttle control similar to scooters, are banned.

GF&P Deputy Secretary Scott Simpson expressed confidence that all e-bikes could be allowed on the trail without issues.

“We do not believe that we will have an issue with allowing all e-bikes,” said Simpson.

But a couple of trail enthusiasts disagreed and opposed the change. Former State Rep. Taffy Howard and Rep. Becky Drury raised safety concerns, emphasizing that the trail is unsuitable for heavier motorized vehicles like some e-bikes.

“This trail is not a place for heavy motorized vehicles, that e-bikes can be,” said Howard.

In response to these concerns, Sen. Randy Deibert of Spearfish successfully introduced an amendment restricting the use to only class-1 e-bikes, which would align the trails regulations with those of Sioux Falls and Rapid City trails.

Class-1 e-bikes have a maximum speed of about 20 mph, compared to class-3 e-bikes that can reach nearly 30 mph.

Sen. Jim Mehlhaff supported the compromise, arguing against allowing too many motorized vehicles on the Mickelson Trail.

“I think this is a good compromise,” said Mehlhaff. “I wouldn’t mind riding my Harley down the trail, but I know that’s not what it’s for… I think we should keep the trail for non-motorized vehicles.”

 

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