Glacier Guides to Offer E-Bike Rentals on Sun Road in 2020

Decision comes after federal government moved to allow electric bikes in parks

By Justin Franz
A biker ascends Going-to-the-Sun Road. Beacon File Photo

Glacier Guides and Montana Raft Co. is preparing to purchase a fleet of electric bikes for use on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in 2020.

The decision to purchase the bikes, also known as “e-bikes,” comes just months after an order by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior paved the way for the powered bikes to be used in national parks. In August, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt issued a directive to create a clear and concise e-bike policy on all federal lands managed by his department, and on Sept. 19, Glacier Park officials announced that they would be treated like any other bicycle.

Courtney Stone, communications director for Glacier Guides, said the company hopes the e-bikes will help new people get on the Sun Road during the early spring. Glacier Guides rents bikes and offers guided tours.

“We think getting more people on bikes is a good thing, especially if it makes biking the Sun Road more accessible,” she said. “For some people, biking the Going-to-the-Sun Road might not have been an obtainable goal until now.”

Stone said it’s unclear what brand of e-bikes the company will buy, but it’s looking at getting 10 to begin. She said the company wants to make sure the bikes can withstand the rigors of the Sun Road and its steady, 6 percent grade.

“There are a lot of unknowns, so we’ll be doing a lot of test trips with the bikes in April,” she said. “It’ll be a busy spring.”

Glacier Guides is already taking reservations for bike rentals and tours in spring 2020.

According to the new rules, the operator of an e-bike may only use the motor to assist pedal propulsion. The motor may not be used to propel an e-bike without the rider also pedaling, except in locations open to public motor vehicle traffic. Motorbikes with a throttle are not e-bikes. All bicyclists must obey speed limits and any other state traffic laws.

In Glacier, cyclists are required to observe all traffic regulations; stay on the right side of the road and ride in single file only; pull over if there are more than four vehicles behind; and use a light or reflector at night or during periods of low visibility.

Additional restrictions are placed on bikes on the Sun Road during the summer. Bikes are prohibited on the Sun Road from Apgar to Sprague Creek between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. Bikes are prohibited from traveling east (uphill) between Logan Creek and Logan Pass between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.