Wild Cumberland is not anti-bicycle; we simply want to ensure there is adequate protection for both the Island’s delicate ecosystems and the Wilderness visitor experience.
The NPS did not conduct a NEPA assessment or provide any public notice before introducing commercial bicycle use on Cumberland Island.
There is no mechanism in place to evaluate or monitor the number of bikes in use on Cumberland Island, and there is no maximum daily limit.
While bikes are officially restricted to use on roads and a small portion of the beach, frequent (and damaging) use has been documented on every trail — including in the Wilderness.
These repeated violations demonstrate the NPS’ deficiency in visitor interpretation and Wilderness education, as well as blatant disregard of regulations by some island residents.
Allowing bikes, and bike rentals, on Cumberland Island can inadvertently encourage and facilitate unequipped backcountry experiences.
Bicycles are frequently observed transporting campers and gear to Wilderness campsites. But it’s important to remember that the point of a Wilderness experience is not just reaching your destination; it is the journey.
If you’re traveling by bike on Cumberland Island’s unpaved, single-lane roads, you are focused on ruts and the soft sand that will slow you down. You’ll frequently have to veer off the road in order to allow vehicles to pass — and wait out the dust that follows. You’re also moving too fast to notice everything that is happening around you.
The single-lane roads on Cumberland Island make it impossible to adhere to safety precautions and laws required on Georgia roads.
The Georgia Coastal Department of Natural Resources has declared the use of electric bikes (e-bikes) on Georgia beaches contrary to the Shore Protection Act.
As a result, a Beach Driving Authorization is required for e-bike use on, over, or across any dunes or beaches in Georgia. Only E-Bikes not under power and only on a manual setting may be used on our beaches.
E-bikes, in particular, allow bicyclists to travel farther, with less effort — but also potentially face more catastrophic consequences. This, combined with Cumberland Island’s extreme heat and limited water sources, can allow inexperienced and uneducated users into potentially dangerous – even fatal – circumstances.
Did you know that the 1964 Wilderness Act specifically prohibits bikes in Wilderness?
Per the 2021 NPS Superintendent’s Compendium:
The NPS has declined to answer the year and process by which bikes were authorized for visitor use.
There are numerous places designed for cyclists to ride safely and explore the outdoors; however, Georgia is home to less than one percent of our nation’s total Wilderness and it requires our restraint and respect to ensure that it remains intact. Our future depends on it.
We’re often contacted by visitors who have witnessed damage to the island’s ecosystem, or blatant disregard of policy protections. We encourage you to report these to the National Park Service and also complete this form.
Thank you for your respectful stewardship of Cumberland Island.