The one-year pilot program to allow the use of electric-assisted or e-Bikes on Boulder County trails and open space areas drew a large crowd to the commissioners’ hearing room. Roz Brown reports that Donna George and others argued that E-Bikes would create safety issues and contribute to already overcrowded trails.
“Taking these trails and lands out of open space protection is outrageous and potentially very costly,” said George. “This move will cause citizens to lose trust in the open space program.”
On the other side, Brian Terry said E-bikes are often a much better option for commuters than regular bikes.
“People who use them find them better than ordinary bikes because they can show up for work with the pedal-assist and look presentable for work.”
For Peter Hurst e-Bikes are a common sense-solution for older bikers who still want to ride.
“I bike-commute on heavily traveled streets and the older I get the more vulnerable I feel,” said Hurst. “At the same time as a walker and hiker in the mountains whose encountered mountain bikers on the trails I have been annoyed, so I feel both sides of this and think it’s a tough one.”
It was a “tough one” for Commissioner Cindy Domenico, who voted against the trial program, while Deb Gardner and Elise Jones voted in favor. As a result of the commissioner’s decision beginning January 1, 2019, class 1 and class 2 e-bikes will be allowed on all regional and plains trails, excluding the Walden Ponds, Coalton, Mayhoffer Singletree and Boulder Canyon trails.
Class 1 e-bikes provide electrical assistance only when the rider is pedaling. Class 2 e-bikes provide electrical power whether the rider is pedaling or not; electrical assistance on both classes of e-bikes stops when the bicycle reaches 20 mph.
Earlier this month the city of Paris launched a massive fleet of eBikes to curb car use, traffic congestion and pollution. Ray Keener, executive director of the Bicycle Industry Organization, says e-Bikes are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. and there’s no evidence they are causing additional problems on trails.
“There was fear that when the city of Boulder started its one-year pilot program to allow e-Bikes on the Creek Path with people saying e-Bikes would make the path a super-highway, but surveys have showed less than one-percent of the use was e-Bikes,” said Keener.
Former Boulder City Council member Jan Burton told the commissioners she sold her car after getting an E-Bike.
“It completely changed the paradigm of my world because I never thought I could ride my bike out to east Boulder, or to the Boulder airport or KGNU, and now ninety-percent of my travel is done via e-Bike.
Following approval of the year-long trial program, the commissioners ordered that a comprehensive, scientific study of the use and impact on open space trails be initiated in the spring to determine if e-Bike usage should be allowed permanently and if so, on which trails.