About Phil Brown

Phil Brown edited the Adirondack Explorer from 1999 until his retirement in 2018. He continues to explore the park and to write for the publication and website.

Reader Interactions


  1. Hope says

    It does not make any sense to allow regular bicycles on the state highways between communities and not allow e-bikes. If you have to pedal it then its a bike. I see a lot of violations happening to unsuspecting riders and those that will do it anyway. While there may be a trail between Tupper, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid; there is no trail for e-bikes between Cranberry Lake and Tupper or Long Lake and Tupper, both nice rides but pretty hilly. Why discourage bicycle transportation between towns and Villages. Makes no sense.

  2. Downhill Mike says

    Ebikes should be allowed on trails. Many of us that have ebikes do not want to ride on dirt roads as we are mountain bikers. As far as “less challenging’ trails, that is fine for people new to the sport but not for experienced mountain bikers. I live out west and many mountain bikers are riding ebikes now. Many pros use class 1 ebikes for training and there are countless reasons why ebikes should have the same rules as regular mountain bikes. I live out west 9 months out of the year and in Lake Placid for 3 months each year. Thinking I will have to leave my ebike out west until NY State catches up with Europe and the west coast.

  3. OldJ says

    Ebikes do not belong in the Forest Preserve. If allowed I can see our already overworked rangers getting calls because an ebike battery died and the user is to “tired” to pedal on under his/her own power. Allowing ebikes into Forest Preserve will only enable the weak and unprepared. If you are not strong enough to pedal the terrain under human power get some lower granny gears or ride elsewhere.

  4. Josh Wilson says

    When it comes to the operation (use) and licensing of e-bikes, states and local municipalities are responsible for regulating these products. Exactly how states incorporate e-bikes into their vehicle codes varies greatly across the country. Roughly half of the states have laws permitting the operation of e-bikes on public highways, streets, and in case of a handful of states, multi-use trails and recreation paths. New York State has thus far taken very few measures to regulate the use of e-bikes.

    In 2002, when federal consumer law was amended to define bicycles with low-power electric motors, the New York State Legislature never enacted a conforming update to state law. Accordingly, electric bicycles are not specifically defined in the NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law, and no specific regulations govern their use on public highways and streets.

    The NYS Department of Motor Vehicles offers only the following definition on its website:

    “motor-assisted bicycle – a bicycle to which a small motor is attached. A motor-assisted bicycle doesn’t qualify for a registration as a motorcycle, moped or ATV and doesn’t have the same equipment.”

    NYS-DMV further states that “You cannot register or operate any [motor-assisted bicycle] on any street, highway, parking lot, sidewalk or other area in New York State that allows public motor vehicle traffic. You may be arrested if you do.”

    Basically according to NYS, electric bikes are vehicles that cannot be registered, and therefore they cannot be operated on public roadways. For nearly the past decade, bicycle advocates in New York have pushed for the e-bike “legal limbo” to be resolved. When I worked for the New York Bicycling Coalition, I personally worked on several campaigns to clarify NYS law when it comes to on-road use of electric bicycles for transportation and recreation, to no avail. The ebike industry has invested heavily in lobbying NYS lawmakers to change the laws, to no avail.

    Bills to amend the vehicle and traffic law in relation to electric bicycles have been debated in the Legislature for at least a decade. The State Senate has passed several different versions of the same bill over the years, but the State Assembly has failed to bring any of those bills to the floor for a vote (most don’t ever make it through the Assembly Transportation Committee).

    Multiple bills have sought to amend the vehicle and traffic law in relation to the definition of electric assisted bicycles; Establish that certain electric assisted bicycles, as defined, are bicycles,not motor vehicles; and Establish safety and operational criteria for their use.

    The Governor’s proposal to allow municipalities to regulate e-bike use on local roads is not perfect by any means, but at least it gives local governments some control. The Legislature has completely failed to address the issue of e-bike use on public highways in the state for over a decade.

  5. Boreas says

    If the state wants to boost statewide economies, they shouldn’t be stifling outdoor recreation by not taking action when new technology presents. Local sales/rentals of eBikes and getting people outdoors should certainly boost economies around the state. Get some common-sense regulations written and let’s go already!

  6. Jeff Allott says

    If you are looking to get out on your E-bike, Elizabethtown is studying the challenges related to their use and currently allows all classes of E-bikes on most its Blueberry Trail System (and Class 1 on all trails there). Additionally, Otis Mountain allows Class 1 bikes on a trial basis on all of their trails.

    • Downhill Mike says

      Jeff, now that 4 years have passed since you wrote the above statement, what are your thoughts about class 1 E-Bikes on trails?

      Since E-Town has always allowed E-Bikes it would be nice to use your findings for other municipalities seeking a more recent study.
      Any more damage to the trails or more user conflicts?

  7. Karen says

    So, where can i rent an e-bike in the Adirondacks and then where would I be able to ride it? Anyone know?

  8. Karen L says

    So, where can i rent an e-bike in the Adirondacks and then where would I be able to ride it? Anyone know?

  9. Matt Warne says

    While we appreciate the allowance of ebikes in NYS. The specs of the legislation are very convoluted when compared the the typical ebike manufacturing specs and what other states allow. It appears that upstate NY gets the poopy end of the stick – again. They did the same thing with crossbow legislation. They throw out a bone and handcuffs at the same time. Typical NY.

  10. Downhill Mike says

    Now that a couple of years have passed since this article, it looks like not only no changes have been made for the better, but things for mountain bikers in the Adirondacks got worse. In the high peaks region of the Adirondacks where I used to live and work, no E-Bikes are allowed on the good, challenging trails and there is no longer lift-serviced mountain biking in the area. No E-Bikes and no DH are things that should be in a mountain biking destination if at all possible. By now there is more than enough proof that E-Bikes do not damage trails.
    Now I live out west year-round in an MTB destination where all bikes and bike riders are welcome. Wake up and please stop discriminating ADK!

    • Downhill Mike says

      Even more changes have been made since this article was published. Class 1 E-Bikes are no longer considered to be motor vehicles in the USA.
      Allow Class 1 E-Bikes and bring back lift service DH in your region. Those are two things that an MTB town needs.

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