Fairfax County Park Authority updates e-bikes and drones regulations

Earlier this spring, the Park Authority Board published new guidelines for using e-bikes and remote control devices in designated park properties.

Photo by Jared Brashier

Technology is always changing, and the Fairfax County Park Authority is keeping up in order to be accommodating to park guests. In early April, the Fairfax County Park Authority Board voted to approve updates to its regulations, concerning two major technologies that impact park attendees: e-bikes and drones.

The board approved an update to “Park Authority Regulation 1.14, Motor Vehicles and Traffic,” to align with Virginia Code and NOVA Parks regulation on the use of electric-powered bikes on park trails. The new guidelines also provide recommendations for e-bike use on park trails.

Virginia law states that the use of e-bikes is allowed wherever regular bicycles are allowed, and in the new guidelines, e-bikes with an input of 750 watts or less are allowed in the parks. To protect wildlife and park property, e-bikes are only encouraged to be used in public areas where traditional bicycles are used—not on rough-terrain nature trails. See more details on the e-bikes updates here.

The Park Authority also approved an administrative update to “Park Authority Regulation 1.17, Remote-Control Devices and Powered Models or Toys,” to align with the Virginia Code. The regulations are in regards to privately owned, unmanned aircraft systems or drones.

Park goers have been allowed to fly unmanned aircrafts in the parks system without prior authorization from the Park Authority since July 1, 2018. Park rules state that political subdivisions can not use unmanned aircrafts in the park, and that all pilots must operate within the Federal Aviation Administration’s safety and airspace regulations.

The Park Authority recommends flying drones and other unmanned aircrafts in areas of the park where the drones will not disrupt wildlife species. In other words, do not operate drones near unmaintained, wooded or natural areas. Under the updates, the use of hobby rockets and remote-controlled cars and boats are still prohibited without a Park Authority-issued permit.

For more information on drone regulations in Fairfax County parks, click here.

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