Steamboat Springs City Council can’t agree on a speed limit for Core Trail
May 10, 2017
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council is not feeling the need for speed.
Council members on Tuesday agreed with some constituents that a 20-mile-per-hour speed limit for electric bicycles and other users on the Yampa River Core Trail was too fast.
The council also won't allow Class 2 electric bicycles, which feature a throttle, onto the commuter trail.
But the council has yet to agree on what the speed limit for all bicycles and pedestrians should be on the Core Trail.
Council members Jason Lacy, Walter Magill and Scott Ford favor a 15-mile-per-hour speed limit.
"People use caution. You've got to give people some benefit," Magill said. "I know there's a lot of ignorance in the world, but I don't think we're looking to have accidents."
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Council members Heather Sloop, Robin Crossan and Kathi Meyer favor a slower 10-mile-per-hour limit.
"I'm worried about moms and kids down on the core trail," Meyer said. "We know it's dogs. It is a Core Trail. It is not a roadway."
Crossan and Sloop recently took electric bicycles out for a spin on the Core Trail to test different speeds.
They said 20 miles per hour felt much too fast for the area.
To the 10-mile-per-hour speed limit, Magill countered that runners can run faster than that.
With councilwoman Lisel Petis undecided, the speed limit question remains in limbo.
Petis, who refrained from voting in a straw poll about the speed limit, will likely cast the deciding vote Tuesday, May 16.
The 3-3 vote for the different speed limits came after a lengthy debate Tuesday night about accommodating e-bikes on some of the city's trails.
Petis said she's hoping community members will weigh in over the next week and help her, and the council, decide on the appropriate speed limit.
"I think people are probably going to have some good opinions on what the appropriate speed is," she said.
Petis also said she is hoping to hop on an electric bike before the council votes again on the issue and try to gauge what the best speed limit would be.
No matter what speed limit the council chooses, the group is taking a more conservative approach than what the city was recommending to accommodate electric bicycles on the city's busy commuter trail.
Council members are also about to approve an e-bike policy that will be more conservative than new state rules that will allow Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes to legally travel on all bicycle trails in other parts of the state.
The city's recommendation to allow Class 1 and Class 2 electric bicycles onto the Core Trail with a 20-mile-per-hour speed limit was met with a mix of reactions in the last week.
Many community members thought the 20-mile-per-hour speed limit recommendation was unwise and unsafe.
"Pedestrians, especially young children, are in danger of serious injury by a speeding bicycle," Erica Lindemann said in an email. "Adding e-bikes to the mix would only increase speeds and the chance of collisions."
The council appears ready to move ahead with a six-month pilot program allowing only the Class 1 e-bikes onto the Core and Walton Creek trails.
The Class 1 bikes feature only an electric pedal assist and do not have the throttles.
City officials have acknowledged whatever speed limit the council decides on, it will be hard to enforce.
"The ability to enforce (speed limits) is going to be a concern," Parks and Community Services Director John Overstreet said. "We don't have any rangers, and I know (Police Chief Cory Christensen) won't have any officers on the Core Trail to actually monitor the speed limit."
Asked Tuesday if he had any public safety concerns about allow e-bikes onto the Core Trail, Chief Christensen said he did not.
"The challenge comes from any lack of personal responsibility on the part of the trail users and is not specific to e-bikes," he said. "All users of the Core Trail have a responsibility to use that resource in a safe and equitable manner and respect the other users who are also enjoying that resource."