Summit County Open Space and Trails seeks community input on e-bikes for recpaths | SummitDaily.com

Summit County Open Space and Trails seeks community input on e-bikes for recpaths

Deepan Dutta ddutta@summitdaily.com

Summit County Open Space and Trails is requesting public comment on whether to allow electric-assisted bicycles, or "e-bikes," on the recreation path network in Summit. An open house will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 28, for public comment on the issue. An online survey is also available until March 19.

E-bikes are bicycles that are equipped with an electric motor and battery that either assist with pedaling or automate riding up to a certain speed limit. Class 1 e-bikes offer varying degrees of pedal assistance, while Class 2 and Class 3 e-bikes automate riding up to 20 mph and 28 mph, respectively.

In August of last year, Colorado law changed to consider Class 1 and 2 bikes as non-motorized vehicles for the purposes of transportation while Class 3 e-bikes are considered motorized. The designation permits Class 1 and 2 e-bikes to ride wherever regular bicycles are allowed. However, the bill also allowed local governments to regulate e-bike usage as they saw fit. Summit County currently bans e-bikes on recreation paths and paved sidewalks, except for persons with disabilities who need motorized assistance.

Open Space and Trails resource specialist Michael Wurzel said that the department is open to all options, but needs public input to make a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners.

"We want to know what the public thinks. Options include keeping the ban in place, allow e-bikes only on certain parts of the network, restricting a certain class of e-bike or to allow them everywhere," Wurzel said.

Wurzel notes that e-bikes have an average speed only slightly higher than regular bicycles. Advantages to allowing e-bikes on the recpath include mobility assistance for the elderly and mobility-impaired, as well as for allowing transport on the recpath network for folks who do not have access to a car and need to run everyday errands.

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"E-bikes make it easier to go up hills, and allow for more cargo carriage," Wurzel said.

However, Wurzel is also aware of opposition to e-bikes on recpaths, including safety concerns and crowding issues.

Recently, Vail adopted the state law for e-bikes into its own code, and e-bikes are now allowed on their recreation paths. However, County Commissioner Dan Gibbs believes it's important for Summit residents to have input on the county rules.

"We do not have any set position on e-bikes," Gibbs said. "It all depends on what the public wants and what works best for Summit."

Gibbs added that any new rules would be made in collaboration with town governments, as what may work for one part of the county or recpath network might not be appropriate for another.

"We'd love to see a system that isn't fractured, and provides a seamless experience across the county," he said.

Among the proponents for allowing e-bikes on the recpaths is Colin McDonald, manager of bike rental store Podium Sports in Frisco.

"I think it'd be great for business," McDonald said. "E-bikes offer a premium price point for rentals, and it offers a new way for people to get around here."

However, McDonald is not as sure about allowing e-bikes everywhere.

"I don't think they should be allowed on trails, but recpaths and paved areas definitely," he said.

The open house will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 28, from 5-7 p.m., at the Summit County Commons, 0037 Peak One Drive in Frisco. Attendees will be able to meet with Open Space officials, learn more about e-bikes and offer comment on restrictions. The online survey can be accessed at SummitCountyCO.gov/ebikes until March 19.

 

Correction: The previous version of this story incorrectly listed the survey end date as March 28.  The survey will end on March 19.