Proposed Rules for Use of Electric Bicycles in State Parks

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STATE PARK RULES OF CONDUCT

REGULATION OF USE OF ELECTRIC BICYCLES

1. Introduction

        The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) proposes amendments to 31 TAC §59.131 and §59.134 concerning State Park Operational Rules.

        The proposed amendments would define “electric bicycles” and prescribe the conditions and circumstances for their use on state parks.

        Under current rule, electric bicycles are defined as motor vehicles and their use within parks is restricted to roads, driveways, parking areas, and areas designated as open for motor vehicle use. Current rules also prohibit the use of motor vehicles and bicycles on an unpaved road, trail, or path not designated and posted for use by such a motor vehicle or bicycle.

        The department has received a number of inquiries regarding the use of electric bicycles on trails in state parks. Staff considers that since the use of bicycles and equines on many state parks is already being managed with minimal and manageable user conflict, and because electric bicycles offer opportunity to persons who otherwise might not consider the visitation experience, the use of electric bicycles on trails is feasible within constraints involving multiple user groups or impacts to conservation or preservation of natural or cultural features. Staff have determined that the most efficient manner of regulating the use of electric bicycles is to allow their use anywhere except where such use is specifically prohibited by posted signage or printed instructions. Staff notes that in most parks, trail use is already permitted for bicycles, equestrians, and foot traffic where such multiple use can be allowed without causing user conflict or degradation of park features.

        The proposed amendment to §59.131, concerning Definitions, would alter the current definition of “motor vehicle” to stipulate that “electric bicycle” means an electric bicycle as defined in Transportation Code, §664.001, which is necessary to provide for an unambiguous meaning of the term for purposes of compliance and enforcement.

        The proposed amendment to §59.134, concerning Rules of Conduct in Parks, would allow the use of electric bicycles on trails, roads (paved and unpaved), and paths unless specifically prohibited by posted signage or printed instructions at the park. The proposed amendment would also require all electric bicycles used in state parks to be lawfully labelled in accordance with the provisions of Transportation Code, Chapter 664, which requires manufacturers of electric bicycles to label electric bicycles with information to identify the class of electric bicycle. Electric bicycles are manufactured in a variety of configurations and the rules would allow the department to restrict certain trails or paths to certain classes of electric bicycle as conditions warrant. The proposed rules would also make stipulations regarding the parking of electric bicycles while using trails and paths in order to make clear that electric bicycles cannot be parked in such a manner as to impede or interfere with trail use by other users. Finally, the proposed amendments would make comporting changes as necessary to create exceptions necessary to eliminate conflicts with existing rules regarding the use of motor vehicles.

2. Fiscal Note.

        Aaron Friar, Special Assistant to the Director, State Parks Division, has determined that for each of the first five years that the rules as proposed are in effect, there will be no fiscal implications to state or local governments as a result of enforcing or administering the rules.

        There will be no fiscal implications for persons required to comply with the rules as proposed.

3. Public Benefit — Cost Note.

        Mr. Friar also has determined that for each of the first five years the rules as proposed are in effect:

        (A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the rules as proposed will be increased opportunity for enjoyment of the state park visitation experience.

        (B) Under provisions of Government Code, Chapter 2006, a state agency must prepare an economic impact statement and a regulatory flexibility analysis for a rule that may have an adverse economic effect on small businesses and micro-businesses. Those guidelines state that an agency need only consider a proposed rule’s "direct adverse economic impacts" to small businesses and micro-businesses to determine if any further analysis is required. For that purpose, the department considers "direct economic impact" to mean a requirement that would directly impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements; impose taxes or fees; result in lost sales or profits; adversely affect market competition; or require the purchase or modification of equipment or services. The department has determined that the proposed rules will not result in any direct economic costs to any small businesses, micro-businesses, or rural communities; therefore, the department has a determined that neither the economic impact statement nor the regulatory flexibility analysis described in Government Code, Chapter 2006, is required.

                 (C) The department has not drafted a local employment impact statement under the Administrative Procedures Act, §2001.022, as the agency has determined that the rules as proposed will not impact local economies.

                 (D) The department has determined that Government Code, §2001.0225 (Regulatory Analysis of Major Environmental Rules), does not apply to the proposed rules.

                 (E) The department has determined that there will not be a taking of private real property, as defined by Government Code, Chapter 2007, as a result of the proposed rules.

                 (F) In compliance with the requirements of Government Code, §2001.0221, the department has prepared the following Government Growth Impact Statement (GGIS).  The rules as proposed, if adopted, will:

                         (1) neither create nor eliminate a government program;

                         (2) not result in an increase or decrease in the number of full-time equivalent employee needs;

                         (3) not result in a need for additional General Revenue funding;

                         (4) not affect the amount of any fee;

                         (5) not create a new regulation;

                         (6) not limit or repeal an existing regulation;

                         (7) neither increase nor decrease the number of individuals subject to regulation; and

                         (8) not positively or adversely affect the state’s economy.

4. Request for Public Comments.

        Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted to Aaron Friar, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744; (512) 389-4415; email: aaron.friar@tpwd.texas.gov or via the department website at www.tpwd.texas.gov.

5. Statutory Authority.

        The amendments are proposed under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 13, which authorizes the commission to promulgate rules governing the conservation, preservation, and use of state property, the activities of park users (including camping, swimming, boating, fishing, or other recreational activities), the regulation of traffic and parking; and conduct which endangers the health or safety of park users or their property.

        The proposed amendment affects Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 13.

        §59.131. Definitions. The following words and terms, when used in this subchapter, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

                 (1) – (10) (No change.)

                 (11) Motor Vehicle — For purposes of this subchapter, a motor vehicle does not include a wheelchair, a motorized wheelchair or a motorized mobility device. A motor vehicle is a motor-powered [motor powered] vehicle, including, but not limited to:

                         (A) any motor-driven [motor driven] or propelled vehicle required to be registered under the laws of this state;

                         (B) – (G) (No change.)

                         (H) an electric bicycle as defined in Transportation Code, §664.001; or

                         (I) (No change.)

                 (12) — (20) (No change.)

        §59.134. Rules of Conduct in Parks.

                 (a) – (j) (No change.)

                 (k) Motor Vehicle Use, Possession and Operation.

                         (1) Operation. Except as provided in this subsection for the operation and use of electric bicycles, it[It] is an offense for any person to:

                                  (A) operate a motor vehicle in a state park except on roads, driveways, parking areas, and areas designated as open for motor vehicle use;

                                  (B) operate a motor vehicle in a state park if the motor vehicle is not licensed and inspected as required by the Texas Transportation Code or other law regarding the operation of motor vehicles, except as specifically authorized by permit; or

                                  (C) operate a motor vehicle in a state park in a manner not authorized by the Texas Transportation Code or other laws regarding the operation of motor vehicles.

                         (2) Parking. Except as specifically provided in this subsection for electric bicycles, it[It] is an offense for any person to:

                                  (A) park a motor vehicle or trailer in a state park except in areas designed, constructed, or designated for that purpose; or

                                  (B) park, store, or leave a motor vehicle or trailer in violation of this section when signs have been posted in the affected areas.

                         (3) Speed Limit. It is an offense for any person to drive a motor vehicle within a state park at a speed:

                                  (A) greater than is reasonable or prudent, having due regard for the traffic and the road conditions then existing;

                                  (B) that endangers the safety of persons or property; or

                                  (C) that exceeds the posted speed limit in any portion of the state park system.

                         (4) Traffic. It is an offense for any person to:

                                  (A) operate a motor vehicle in a state park between the park closing hour and 6 a.m. opening hour, except for emergency or necessary purposes; or

                                  (B) operate a motor vehicle in an indiscriminate or unnecessary manner (cruising).

                         (5) Trail use.

                                  (A) It is an offense for any person to operate or use a motor vehicle or a bicycle on an unpaved road, trail, or path not designated and posted for use [JM1] by such a motor vehicle or bicycle or use the trail in a manner that is dangerous to a person or animal.

                                  (B) Unless specifically prohibited by posted signage or printed instructions, the operation and use of electric bicycles is permitted on trails, roads (paved and unpaved), and paths.

                                          (i) The department may restrict any trail, road (paved or unpaved), or path to specific classes of electric bicycles.

                                          (ii) It is an offense to operate or use an electric bicycle under this paragraph unless it has been lawfully labeled as required under Transportation Code, Chapter 664, to indicate the class of the electric bicycle.

                                          (iii) A person using an electric bicycle provided by this paragraph may park the electric bicycle next to the trail, road, or path being used, provided such parking is performed in a safe manner and does not obstruct or otherwise impede the use of the trail, road, or path by other park users.

                 (l) – (q) (No change.)

        This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency’s authority to adopt.

        Issued in Austin, Texas, on

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