Vail may more tightly regulate e-bikes, as well as Segway-type devices
December 30, 2017
VAIL — This town is built on human-powered recreation. That means there’s a bit of civic ambivalence over electric-assist bicycles and electronic personal assistive mobility devices, better known by a brand name: Segway.
In time for the summer season this year, the Vail Town Council approved a trial season of allowing electric-assist bikes on town recreation paths. That trial seemed to go well, with only a few reported incidents.
The problem, though, came outside Vail’s town boundaries — Dowd Junction and Vail Pass.
Following state law, Eagle County banned e-bikes on its paths. But state law has changed.
During a work session on Tuesday, Dec. 19, the Vail Town Council talked with Gregg Barrie, who manages trails projects for the town.
Barrie told council members that state law now allows e-bikes on paved recreation trails. What’s allowed is an electric-motor assist with a maximum speed of 18 mph. The top category of e-bike has a maximum speed of 28 mph.
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That should be fine in Dowd Junction. Vail Pass is a different story.
Barrie said while the Colorado Department of Transportation wants to follow the new state regulations, the U.S. Forest Service doesn’t want to adopt those regulations. Portions of the Vail Pass bike path cross Forest Service land.
Having e-bikes on Vail Pass worries some council members.
“There’s a safety concern,” council member Gregg Moffet said, adding that it’s potentially dangerous combining slow-moving, human-powered cycles with e-bike riders sailing up the steep grades.
MOBILITY DEVICE REGULATIONS?
Council member Travis Coggin noted that e-bikes still need to be pedaled, and electric assist can help an aging resident and tourist population. But, he added, one-wheel boards and mobility devices are “a different thing.”
Council members will see an ordinance sometime soon with specific direction for the bikes.
The council will also probably soon see proposed legislation regulating mobility devices in town. Council members said they’re worried that the devices — which can travel at a maximum of 12 mph — don’t mix well with pedestrians.
“I’m uncomfortable with (the devices) in pedestrian areas,” Mayor Dave Chapin said, adding that in areas that can be as crowded with foot traffic as Vail and Lionshead villages, the devices don’t seem to fit.
While the ordinance language hasn’t yet been drafted, council members said there should be discussion at an evening meeting about how to regulate the devices and whether that means creating dismount zones or simply banning them in pedestrian areas.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org or @scottnmiller.