MDC expands bicycle use on many conservation areas

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MDC will allow the expanded use of bicycles and electric bicycles on about 300 conservation areas effective Feb. 28, 2022. Image taken at Canaan Conservation Area.

Expanded use of bicycles and electric bicycles on about 300 MDC conservation areas will become effective Feb. 28, 2022.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Conservation Commission gave final approval at its Dec. 10 open meeting to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) proposed regulation changes that would allow the expanded use of bicycles and electric bicycles on many department-area service roads and multi-use trails. The Commission also gave final approval to MDC definitions of bicycles and electric bicycles. The changes will become effective Feb. 28, 2022.

The final approval of these regulations follows the initial approval by the Commission in August and a review of public comments received during October.

According to MDC, conservation-area users have expressed interest in expanding the use of bicycles and electric bicycles to include conservation-area service roads and multi-use trails for greater access to the areas. Bicycle use on MDC’s approximately 1,100 conservation areas is currently restricted to roads open to public-vehicle traffic and some multi-use trails. Bicycle use is currently not allowed on conservation-area service roads.

Service roads are non-public roads on MDC areas used by staff to conduct resource management activities. They are marked on online maps on the MDC website at mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places. Many service roads are currently used as walking paths by the public. MDC notes that conditions of service roads on department areas vary and are not maintained at the level of public-use trails and public roads.

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Most MDC conservation areas do not have applicable service roads or multi-use trails. The regulation change will impact approximately 300 MDC areas by allowing bicycle and electric bicycle use on service roads and/or multi-use trails. Approximately 30 of these areas will be closed to bicycle and electric bicycle use during all portions of the firearms deer hunting season and the spring turkey hunting seasons.

Exceptions would also include service roads used by staff at fish hatcheries and other heavily used MDC areas or where bicycle use could cause damage to sensitive habitats, such as designated natural areas.

Electric bicycles are defined by MDC as “any two-wheeled or three-wheeled device equipped with fully operable pedals, a saddle or seat for the rider, and an electric motor of less than 750 watts, and which meets one of the following three classes:

  • Class 1 electric bicycles are equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches a speed of 20 miles per hour;
  • Class 2 electric bicycles are equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the bicycle, and that is not capable of providing assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour;
  • Class 3 electric bicycles are equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour.”

Bicyclists are expected to follow appropriate trail etiquette including yielding to pedestrians and horseback riders, maintaining a safe speed, staying on designated trails or service roads, and avoiding damaging trails by not riding in wet conditions.

Find MDC conservation areas and other MDC Places to Go online at mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/places.