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Sep 13

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Electric Bikes on Trails Update

Electric Bikes Becoming Popular on Trails…

island bike path near ocean

Trails in Paradise

The Trailsnet blog post entitled Electric Bikes on Trails is still the most commented on post in our decade-long history, and it is in the top-ten most viewed posts of all times. Electric bicycles on trails is a hot topic with Trailsnet viewers, and most of you seem to be in favor of them. But many things have changed since our last electric bike blog post. For one thing, more communities have begun to allow e-bikes on trails. Locally, the city of Boulder, CO has approved one of the more lenient electric bike rules and regulations among major trail-towns in the United States. Even more locally, the town of Louisville, CO has begun to allow electric bicycles on trails, but with a few more restriction than Boulder. I have also noticed a major increase in the number of electric bikes on the US 36 Bikeway that runs between Boulder and Denver.

… But More Consistency Needed Regarding Electric Bike Rules

installed OmniWheel electric wheel

OmniWheel on a Cruiser

You’ll notice that I didn’t say “more rules are needed.” I said more consistency is needed. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that the e-bike rules were pretty similar whether you were in Montana or Maine? Wouldn’t it be nice if the electric bike rules were similar whether you were on a rail-trail, an urban trail, a paved trail or a rural trail? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was one website you could visit where you could plug in a zip code or town name and get the e-bike rules for trails clearly spelled out with no ambiguity? It will happen and hopefully sooner rather than later. We shouldn’t have to worry about going to a community like Glenwood Springs, CO and getting a $1,000 ticket for riding an electric bike on the local trails. Electric bicyclists aren’t criminals. In general, they aren’t even fast or reckless. They’re are commuters and recreationalists who enjoy riding the trails, enjoying the outdoors and being responsible, environmentally-friendly citizens.

Electric Bikes on Trails Survey

It’s been awhile since we’ve surveyed Trailsnet readers about electric bicycles on trails, so I’ll be adding a Twitter e-bike survey soon. Remember to follow Trailsnet on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn & Instagram.

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Permanent link to this article: http://trailsnet.com/2017/09/13/electric-bikes-trails-update/

2 comments

1 ping

  1. Paul Wiegman

    The policy established by the Regional Trail Corporation for the Great Allegheny Passage is being updated. The 250-watt restriction was deemed to be too low since few manufacturers are building bikes with that size motor. Also, Pennsylvania passed changes to the Motor Vehicle Code in 2014 the defined electric bikes, and they set the motor size at 750 watts. The new RTC policy raises the upper limit to 750 watts. The policy remains grounded in the ADA and applies to riders with disabilities. The PA Motor Code is for all riders. Local trails need to accept that allowance of electric bikes for all riders, not just the disabled.

    I agree that consistency is a goal. The California example is a good one and is being copied by other states.

    1. trailsnet

      Thanks for the update, Paul. I’ll have to take a look at the California guidelines.

      Hopefully, we can come up with good electric bike policy. We need to look at what is being done around the country, decide on the best ideas, then implement national e-bike guidelines. In the long-run, there will have to be compromise. The worst thing that could happen, for electric bike fans, is if either of the extreme positions is implemented. Too few rules is just as bad as too many. If there is no limit on speeds, motor-size, etc., there are bound to be major accidents and then electric bikes (and their riders) will become the bad guys and will be banned from most trails completely.

      I’m looking forward to the arrival of a new folding electric bike on my doorstep tomorrow. I’ve test-driven dozens of electric bikes, but never a folding one, so this will be fun. I’ll keep the Trailsnet subscribers posted about how it works.

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