Here’s some need-to-know information for the week:

City OSMP seeing significant participation in e-bike community engagement process.

City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) began a community engagement process on Monday, July 11, to gather input on how best or whether to allow use of e-bikes on open space trails. Current city policy prohibits e-bikes on OSMP trails. The city is currently seeing significant online engagement with over 1,700 responses submitted to a questionnaire. Council and the Open Space Board of Trustees (OSBT) also have received emails providing comments about e-bike use on open space.

Community members are encouraged to provide input on the city’s Be Heard Boulder engagement platform through Monday, Aug. 8. The questionnaire gathers input on whether to allow e-bikes on open space trails, the alternatives under consideration if e-bikes are allowed, and level of support for the preliminary staff proposal of Alternative B (detailed below) and allow Class 1 and Class 2 which cease to provide assistance when the bike reaches 20 mph. Class 3 bikes would continue to be prohibited on city open space trails.

If the current conditions/status quo of no e-bikes on open space were to be changed, OSMP has identified the following three alternatives as options to consider (the link opens a map detailing the trails that would allow e-bikes for that alternative):

  • Alternative A – Allow e-bikes on all OSMP multi-use trails that allow bikes.
  • Alternative B – Allow e-bikes on OSMP Plains trails that allow bikes and the Boulder Canyon Trail.
  • Alternative C – Allow e-bikes on OSMP Interconnected multi-use trails that allow bikes. Bikes

OSMP plans to use input from the questionnaire to develop a final staff recommendation for OSBT and council consideration on if and how to allow e-bike use on open space trails later this year or early 2023. 

The department hosted “drop in” office hours on Wednesday, July 20, to answer questions and assist community members with completing the engagement questionnaire and will host another one on Tuesday, July 26.

While city regulations allow e-bikes on paved paths within Boulder, Section 7-2-25 of the Boulder Revised Code prohibits e-biking on all city open space trails. If e-bikes are a desired or envisioned use on a trail located on land managed by OSMP, it requires open space land to be disposed of by selling, transferring, or giving it to another public agency. Disposal of open space land is not typically a preferred approach.

A primary objective of the evaluating and considering e-biking on open space trails is to improve access for more ages and abilities of visitors and provide a consistent experience across a network of interconnected multi-use paths and trails managed by different public agencies. If a decision is made to allow e-bikes on some open space trails, it would provide flexibility and alternatives to disposal in situations where e-bikes are an envisioned or desired use and could support broader city climate goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

OSMP also is reviewing the prohibition of e-bikes on open space in response to recent policy changes by partner agencies that treat e-bikes as bicycles as well as requests from community members to consider e-bike use on city open space trails.

  • In 2017, amendments to the state law changed the definition of e-bikes to no longer classified them as motor vehicles.
  • In 2019, Boulder County approved allowing class 1 and class 2 e-bikes on Plains trails where regular bikes are allowed, except trails with joint ownership interest by OSMP, such as the Boulder Canyon Trail, and Coalton Trail.
  • Community members have shared concerns that not allowing e-bikes on city trails diminishes opportunities for visitors with different abilities and aging community members to enjoy open space trails.
  • Visitors also have communicated concerns about inconsistent e-biking regulations along regional trails. For example, the Cottontail Trail northeast of Gunbarrel – which is part of the Longmont-to-Boulder (LoBo) Regional Trail –has segments that cross back and forth between OSMP and other agency partners where the city prohibits e-bikes, but the county allows them. Visitors experience challenges with knowing and complying with these inconsistent regulations and management practices.

For more information, please visit the project webpage or contact Marni Ratzel, project manager, at ratzelm@bouldercolorado.gov or 720-445-2596.

Regards,

Nuria

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