As of August 1st, a new state policy allows use of electric bicycles on Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources trails.
According to State Trails Coordinator Brigit Brown, here are the basics of the new rules:
• Electric bicycles are now allowed on linear state trails that allow bikes.
• E-bikes are subject to a 15 mph speed limit.
• Only bikes with electric motors are allowed. No combustion engines.
• Counties can decide to close cooperative state trails (DNR state trails operated by counties) to e-bikes, but they must post them as closed to these bikes. Without these signs, the assumption is that they are open. Here is a list of state trails. Those with “county” under “trail operator” have the flexibility to close the trails to e-bikes.
• Electric bikes may also be allowed on other bike trails (such as mountain bike trails) on DNR lands, but only under certain circumstances, only after public input and only by affirmative action of the property manager. Finally, these trails must be specifically posted as open for this use.
• The new rules do not differentiate between size of motor or action (e.g., if it requires pedaling or not), but all bikes are subject to that 15 mph speed limit.
• Electric bikes are required to follow all the same rules as conventional bikes on DNR property.
So, as a general rule, an e-bike is now allowed to be used with the motor engaged on linear trails as long as you don’t exceed 15 mph. If they are not allowed on a trail or trail portion the trail will have to be posted with signs prohibiting them. For mountain bike trails, the assumption is just the opposite: they are not allowed unless they are specifically posted to allow them.