April 3, 2020
Mr. David Vela
National Park Service
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Acting Director Vela:
I am writing to you on behalf of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks (Coalition). We were dismayed to read the National Park Service (NPS) press release yesterday regarding NPS plans to proceed with electric bicycle (“eBike”) rulemaking during the current nation-wide COVID-19 crisis.
We believe that rulemaking is necessary for NPS to authorize any use of eBikes within units of the National Park System because the proposed use conflicts with the current NPS regulatory of “bicycle” in 36 CFR § 1.4. However, it is unnecessary and, frankly, tone deaf for NPS to initiate this non-urgent rulemaking process right now. The health and safety of park visitors and NPS employees should be the service’s number one priority right now.
Given the ongoing and growing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, NPS should focus its attention on immediately addressing critical employee and visitor safety concerns as the contagion spreads. Too many parks remain open today despite the overwhelming evidence that the virus can and is being transmitted by asymptomatic individuals already infected with the disease. Continuing to allow tens of thousands of travelers to visit parks and congregate at popular viewpoints and trails is simply inexcusable; and, unfortunately, speaks volumes about NPS’s and the Department of the Interior’s mislaid priorities.
We hereby request that NPS delay initiating the eBike rulemaking process until at least next fall or as long as necessary until the effects of the pandemic begin to subside. We would appreciate your careful consideration of this request.
Philip A. Francis, Jr., Chair
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
cc: Mike Reynolds, Acting Deputy Director for Operations, National Park Service