• info@wildcumberland.org
  • PO Box 872 Scottdale, GA 30079

Bicycles

UPDATE: AUGUST 2021

Bike rentals are currently unavailable on Cumberland Island National Seashore. There is no timeline available for the return of this service. Please direct your concerns or inquiries directly to the NPS at Cumberland Island National Seashore.

Our Concerns

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. 

Impact on Natural Resources

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. 

Impact on Visitors

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.

New in 2021 - Electric Bicycles (e-bikes)

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.

Bicycles and Wilderness

Did you know that the 1964 Wilderness Act specifically prohibits bikes in Wilderness?

“there shall be no temporary road, no use of motor vehicles, motorized equipment or motorboats, no landing of aircraft, no other form of mechanical transport, and no structure or installation within any such area.”

Bicycles on Cumberland Island

Per the 2021 NPS Superintendent’s Compendium

  • Bicycles are permitted on the beach between the Dungeness Beach Crossing and the Sea Camp Beach Crossing (North of Dungeness and South of Sea Camp only).
  • Bicycles are not allowed on designated trails. 
  • Bicycles are not allowed on the cultural landscape.
  • Professionally manufactured bicycle trailers are permitted on roadways north of Sea Camp when pulled behind a bicycle, however, nothing wheeled is allowed in the Wilderness areas. No makeshift sleds, or other pull behind devices are allowed north of the Sea Camp area.

Where Do the Bikes Come From?

The NPS has declined to answer the year and process by which bikes were authorized for visitor use. 

  • By February 2019, Cumberland Island National Seashore began allowing visitors to reserve space for personal bikes in advance. The ferry transports approximately 15 passenger bikes per trip, averaging 2 trips daily.

364 days per year x 30 bikes per day = up to 10,920 private bikes transported by ferry to Cumberland Island annually

  • Additional bikes are provided on the island for daily rental by the concessionaire (approximately 30 available per day).
  • Greyfield Inn offers its visitors bikes (child & adult) (unknown number) and provides employees with bikes (number unavailable).
  • Island residents frequently utilize bikes and make them available to their guests (number unavailable).
  • Private boaters frequently bring bikes over for day use (unknown number); occasionally, boats bring loads of just bikes for large groups of campers (unknown number).
  • Multiple access points and limited resources prevent proper oversight and enforcement (Dungeness, Sea Camp, and Plum Orchard docks). 

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.

Please be advised that there are NO paved roads on the island and conditions can vary.

Additional References

Please take action on this issue by sending a note to our National Park Service representatives.

Restrict Bicycles on Cumberland

Dear Superintendent Ingram,

Our nation is reaching what appears to be maximum-use levels across our nation’s public lands. Simultaneously, there has been a steep increase in the number of bicycles used on Cumberland Island.

Cumberland Island management continues to prioritize human convenience above the resources you are charged with protecting. You have a responsibility to evaluate the environmental impact of bicycles on Cumberland Island, even if they are limited to roads.

Given the linear nature of its Wilderness, which is further subdivided by vehicular road, the Wilderness experience is already denigrated. Promoting bicycle use on Cumberland Island has, and will continue to, result in a more crowded and less remote northern part of the Island. For those seeking a wilderness experience on Cumberland, this drastically diminishes both their opportunities and experience. It is contrary to the long-established goal of an ever-wilder northern half of the Island.

This decision may be left to the discretion of each Superintendent, but Cumberland Island National Seashore’s enabling legislation provides guidance to eliminate any possible confusion: “….no convenience for the visitor shall be undertaken which is incompatible with the preservation of the unique flora and fauna or the physiographic conditions not prevailing,”.

I request that you immediately re-examine the unrestricted number of bicycles on Cumberland Island National Seashore. I also request a renewed commitment and prioritization of Wilderness interpretation and education, and advocate for a Wilderness Ranger to safeguard our natural resources and for the safety of our visitors.

Sincerely,

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