City of Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks (OSMP) staff is asking the public to weigh in on allowing e-bikes on some city-owned open space land. Under consideration is 54 miles of soft surface multiuse trails open to bikes. Of these 54 miles, about 23 miles are singletrack trails, and 9 miles of those are singletrack trails located west of Broadway/Highway 93. The other 31 miles are wide crushed gravel paths or farm roads. Some of these non-singletrack trails are either are co-managed with Boulder County or are segments of longer regional trails, as is the case with the Boulder Canyon Trail, the Cottonwood Trail and South Boulder Creek Trail.
OSMP is evaluating both class 1 (pedal-assist up to 20 mph) and class 2 (throttle or pedal-assist up to 20 mph) together because these 2 classes are allowed on City of Boulder recreation paths and Boulder County plains trails. Also of note is that OSMP already allows people experiencing disabilities to use Other Power/Driven Mobility Devices (OPDMDs), including electric-assisted cycles.
Betasso Preserve, Hall Ranch, Heil Valley Ranch, Mud Lake, Rabbit Mountain, and Walker Ranch are not under consideration at this time, as those areas are managed by Boulder County Parks & Open Space.
BMA’s 2021 member survey showed feelings about e-mountain bikes are mixed, but skew positive. Many (59%) would own an e-MTB bike and 61% say BMA should advocate for e-bikes on trails. However, 26% are for e-bikes on all trails, and 35% are for e-bikes on designated trails only.
BMA submitted these comments to OSMP:
July 26, 2022
To: Marni Ratzel
City of Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks
2520 55th St.
Boulder, CO 80301
We appreciate all the work that has been done by City of Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks staff on the E-Biking Alternatives Evaluation to arrive at your recommendation for Alternative B. We see an opportunity for increased regional bike connectivity with e-bike access to wide multi-use paths such as the Boulder Canyon Trail, Cottonwood Trail, and South Boulder Creek Trail. However, BMA believes the OSMP staff proposal warrants more research combined with a pilot e-bike access project to better understand the impacts of these proposed changes to singletrack trails.
We support our community partners such as Community Cycles in their efforts to continuously improve bike access, safety and connectivity in Boulder. BMA’s focus is to ensure that singletrack trails open to mountain bikes and potential changes to their access are done thoughtfully. BMA believes further research, community outreach and education on-site with demo bikes, and a pilot program are necessary to understanding the potential impacts of both Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes on OSMP singletrack trails at Marshall Mesa and Doudy Draw. The survey BMA executed in the Fall of 2021 shows e-bikes to be a divisive issue within the mountain bike community, with a clear desire for more study on the topic.
BMA looks forward to a thoughtful, open, transparent public process for this and other public land access considerations. Our volunteers stand ready to assist OSMP with any additional research necessary to move forward with this proposal.
Boulder Mountainbike Alliance, Board of Directors
A.J. Kamish, President
Colin Towner, Treasurer
Deb Trevor, Secretary