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Electric-Assisted Bicycles (E-Bikes) Policy Review

Electric-Assisted Bicycles (E-Bikes) Policy Review

From Feb. 7, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2014, the City of Boulder will temporarily allow the use of electric-assisted bicycles (e-bikes) on paved multi-use paths, not including paths on Open Space and Mountain Park lands. The objective of the pilot project is to determine whether e-bike users can coexist with other users on Boulder's multi-use paths.

Select the "Map of Multi-Use Paths That Allow E-Bike Use" link to see where e-bike use is allowed.

Electric Bike Pilot Project

Public Safety, Education and Outreach

Some community members have expressed concern about traffic congestion on the paths, speed, etiquette of bicyclists and safety. In particular, the behavior of existing bicyclists and a lack of enforcement were cited as concerns that may be compounded by e-bike users.

Signs to inform multi-use path users about the pilot project and 15 mph speed limit will be installed at select locations along the pathway system, emphasizing safety and courtesy among all multi-use path users.

As peak cycling and walking season begins in May 2014, the city will launch a public outreach and educational campaign to raise awareness about proper etiquette on Boulder’s multi-use path system. The campaign will inform the community about the rules on the multi-use path system and their responsibility as shared users of those paths.

The campaign messaging will highlight path users' rules and responsibilities, including:

  • e-bikes are allowed on the system;
  • comply with the 15 mph speed limit on multi-use paths;
  • keep right, pass left;
  • give an audible alert before passing; and
  • bike lights are required and reflective clothing is advised for nighttime use.

Pilot Project Evaluation

To collect traffic volume data by user type (pedestrian, bike, e-bike, other), automatic in-pavement loop detectors will track bike volume and manual counts will be conducted via field observations throughout the 11-month pilot project.

Additionally, an online survey and in-person surveys of multi-use path users will be conducted to gather input about the pilot program and use of e-bikes on multi-use paths. Formal police enforcement activities may be scheduled as resources allow and based on the findings of the field observations.

The city will publicize all forums for public input about the user experience on the path system and the e-bike pilot project. During the pilot project, staff will periodically present its findings to the Transportation Advisory Board and City Council.

Background and Timeline

  • Feb. 7, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2014 - The period for the e-bike pilot project.
  • Feb. 7, 2014 - The city manager approved both rules without change.
  • Jan. 8 - 23, 2014 - Community members submitted 92 comments about the two rules during a 15-day public comment period.
  • Dec. 12, 2013 - Ordinance 7941 was enacted, 30 days after it was adopted by City Council.
  • November 2013 - City Council adopted Ordinance 7941 to authorize a pilot project allowing e-bikes on paved multi-use paths, not including paths on Open Space and Mountain Parks lands.
  • Oct. 1, 2013 - City Council considered the pilot ordinance change.
  • Sept. 23, 2013 - The Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) held a public hearing and made a formal recommendation to City Council.
  • Sept. 4, 2013 - The community was invited to attend a public meeting to learn more about the proposed pilot project, test ride an e-bike, and provide feedback about elements to consider when testing the use of e-bikes on off-street paths.
  • August 2013 - An initial public meeting was held in early August to introduce the potential pilot project to the community and initiate discussions about e-bike use on multi-use paths.

In 2013, the City of Boulder began an update to the Transportation Master Plan (TMP). As part of the "Complete Streets" focus area of the TMP, the city has sought community feedback about how best to improve walking and biking in Boulder. The city has conducted "Walk Audits" to gain a better understanding of what contributes to a pedestrian-friendly environment and launched a “Living Laboratory” to test new bike treatments and programs to see if they are appropriate for Boulder.

Previously, electric-assisted bicycles (e-bikes) were permitted to operate on streets and in bicycle lanes, but were prohibited from operating on paths and sidewalks. Ordinance No. 7941 enabled the city manager to regulate the paved paths where a person may activate the motor of an e-bike.

Select the "Boulder Revised Code Chapter 7-5: Pedestrian, Bicycle, and Animal Traffic" link to view the specific regulations.

Accessibility
Concurrently, the city is working on local amendments to be consistent with new policies adopted by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that will allow people with mobility impairments to use personal motorized devices, including e-bikes, on multi-use paths.

Select the "Personal Motorized Vehicles Fact Sheet" link to learn more about the operation of e-bikes, motor scooters, Segways and other personal motorized devices in Boulder.

 

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