Image from Boulder County Parks & Open Space
December 14, 2022
City of Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks
2520 55th Street
Boulder, CO 80301
Dear Marni Ratzel,
The Boulder Mountainbike Alliance (BMA) Board of Directors appreciates all the work that has been done by City of Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks (OSMP) staff on the E-Biking Alternatives Evaluation to arrive at the recommendation for Alternative B.
BMA agrees with the staff recommendation that the OSMP charter should be amended to include e-biking as a passive recreational activity permissible on open space and allowed only on certain designated trails.
We see an opportunity for increased regional commuter and recreational bike connectivity with e-bike access to wide multi-use paths such as the Boulder Canyon Trail, Cottonwood Trail, and South Boulder Creek Trail. The Boulder County Parks & Open Space e-bike study found both Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes are compatible with these kinds of crushed gravel soft surface paths.
We recognize that eMTBs are an emerging technology. Every major mountain bike manufacturer now offers an eMTB and eMTB sales are projected to increase 10% each year from 2020 to 2027. Lightweight eMTBs under 40 lbs are now available and weigh only a few pounds more than many standard mountain bikes. Currently, there are only 3 miles of singletrack trail open to eMTBs in all of Boulder County, the Rattlesnake Gulch trail in Eldorado Canyon State Park. We strongly suggest that OSMP, Boulder County Parks & Open Space and the U.S. Forest Service work together with the community to determine appropriate trails for eMTBs in Boulder County.
BMA believes the OSMP staff recommendation for Alternative B warrants a pilot e-bike access project to better understand the impacts of these proposed changes to singletrack trails. 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 community outreach, 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, Doudy Draw, Flatirons Vista and Boulder Valley Ranch.
BMA’s 2021 member survey showed feelings about e-mountain bikes (eMTBs) are mixed, but skew positive. Many (59%) would own an eMTB 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. Our survey did not consider Class 2 throttle e-bikes as these types of e-bikes are not a common eMTB standard.
Because our survey results showed that 31% of our community is against Class 1 eMTBs on singletrack trails, BMA does not feel that there is a wide majority consensus that BMA can speak either for or against eMTBs. Mountain bikers, like all public land visitors, have different opinions on preferred trails, terrain and equipment, and as such we can not lump all people who ride bicycles on public land into one homogenous group. What BMA does support is a thoughtful, open, fair and transparent public process for this and other public land access considerations. Since our founding, equitable access for mountain bikers is still a top priority for BMA and our members.
BMA’s request for additional studies should not be taken as a negative view towards e-bikes. We believe a more robust and on-the-ground approach will better address the concerns of OSBT and of the community.
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
Jonathan Dormody, Secretary