Transportation

Colorado County Wants Deeper Research into E-Bikes

Commissioners in Boulder County instructed staff to look more carefully at the issues surrounding battery-powered transportation, saying they don’t simply want to follow the state’s lead.

by John Bear, Daily Camera / August 23, 2018
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(TNS) — Boulder County, Colo., Commissioners on Wednesday directed county staff to conduct deeper research on two options for allowing e-bikes on county open space, but signaled they don't want to simply follow the state Legislature's lead.

"We don't necessarily need to follow what the Legislature says," Commissioner Cindy Domenico. "We often don't anyway."

A law enacted last year makes Colorado a permissive state by default for e-bikes — bicycles that are assisted by an electric motor — unless they are prohibited in a local jurisdiction. Currently, Boulder County does not allow the vehicles on open space property.

Class 1 bikes are defined as only providing assistance when the pedals are turned, and the motor stops running at 20 mph. Class 2 e-bikes operate even when no one is pedaling, but the motor also stops at 20 mph.

County staff has recommended a pilot program allowing Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes on regional trails and all plains trails where bikes are allowed. The pilot program would run through 2019 and would exclude three trails — the Coalton, Mayhoffer Singletree and Boulder Canyon trails, the latter of which was excluded at the request of the city of Boulder.

The county also has hosted demonstrations where people can come and ride e-bikes.

Commissioners on Wednesday directed staff to look at two options beyond simply allowing e-bikes onto trails as state law permits. The first would involve making changes to the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan and the second would be to remove certain trails from being a part of county open space land.

A second hearing on the issue is tentatively planned for September, but that could be pushed back to October.

About 16 people spoke during the public comment portion of Wednesday's hearing at the Boulder County Courthouse.

Those opposed to allowing e-bikes tended to say that the devices pose a danger to other people using the trails, and that open space areas should be kept as free from technology as possible.

"I rode my e-bike here," said Boulder resident Molly Davis. "I love my bike, but I don't think they are appropriate to be ridden on trails."

Many of those who spoke in favor of e-bikes said they have health problems that prohibit them from riding a regular bicycle. E-bikes to them are a way to get out and around. Others said they use the vehicles as a way to commute without a car.

Boulder resident Anne Peters said she has a condition that makes riding an e-bike a necessity. She said she has been riding nine months.

"We all deserve access to open space, the same as any other taxpayer," Peters said. "For me to be shut out of that, because I follow all of the courtesy rules, is an ethical problem."

©2018 the Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.