E-bikes could gain access to Steamboat’s Core Trail this month
May 8, 2017
Steamboat Springs — Electric bicycles could soon be legally zipping down the Yampa River Core Trail.
The city's elected officials could as soon as May 16 adopt new rules to allow two classes of e-bikes on the Core Trail as part of a yearlong pilot program.
But city officials are recommending the city take a more conservative approach than the state is taking for now and keep the e-bikes off of other types of trails, including Emerald Mountain.
A new state law that will take effect in early August will allow Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes on any path where bicycles are authorized to travel.
The Class 1 bicycles have an electric motor that just offers the rider a pedal assist. Class 2 bicycles have an electric drive system that the rider can engage with a throttle.
The new state rule will also clarify that electric bicycles are not classified as motor vehicles.
Local municipalities have the power to set their own rules and make them more or less restrictive.
If the City Council does nothing, the rules here will default to the new state rules on Aug. 9.
After gathering public input, the Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission voted in February to recommend the city allow the Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes on the Core Trail during a yearlong pilot program.
After that, the city would analyze whether the bicycles, which carry electric motors that help riders pedal, should be allowed on any other types of trails.
"E-bikes are big and are getting bigger, so we need to start figuring out what the proper regulations are," Commissioner Doug Tumminello said at the time.
Local police officers have been holding off on ticketing e-bike riders using the Core Trail until the city’s elected officials settled on a policy.
Commissioners heard from e-bike riders, including a local rancher, who said the vehicles have many benefits.
However, some residents have expressed concerns about letting the bicycles on the heavily trafficked Core Trail.
City officials are recommending that in addition to allowing the e-bikes on the Core Trail, the city should also adopt a 20 mile-per-hour speed limit for all types of bicycles on the Core Trail.
Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Bock said the city would like to get the local e-bike rules clarified at the start of the summer season.
The City Council will discuss the proposal during a work session on Tuesday evening.
The soonest a vote could be scheduled is May 16.