At the June 1, 2023 City of Boulder City Council meeting, council voted 7-0 to approve the use of Class 1 and 2 e-bikes on some open space trails. They recommend staff start with trails outlined in Alternative B+, which are the trails on the plains east of Broadway, and Chapman Drive and Wonderland Lake. This change will go into effect on July 1.
BMA’s Executive Director provided the following public comment,
“Hi, my name is Wendy Sweet, and I am the executive director of the Boulder Mountainbike Alliance, and a 30-year resident of Boulder. I’d like to thank OSMP staff for all their hard work on this ebike evaluation.
BMA believes that ebikes are compatible with passive recreation and we are very much in favor of opening trail connections that will allow for more people to safely get around Boulder out of their cars.
Throughout this ebike evaluation process, we have asked that OSMP conduct a pilot program to study ebikes on singletrack trails. We have asked for this not because staff did not do their due diligence in finding ebike studies by other government agencies, rather, we asked for a pilot program because this is Boulder and in Boulder people want to see for themselves.
There have been several public comments before me suggesting that ebike usage on City open space will displace other visitors, will lead to more visitor conflicts, will have harmful impacts on wildlife, will negatively impact trails and other speculations. But the vast majority of e-bike pilot programs and studies to date do not show these concerns to be valid, including the e-bike pilot programs by JeffCo and Boulder County.
While staff will not be going forward with a pilot program, BMA strongly suggests that the city move forward with this process using adaptive management practices with measurable data. What will success look like? What will failure look like? What metrics will you use to determine this? If there are issues that need to be mitigated, what will those mitigation processes look like? Emotional feelings by a few against people riding bicycles should not be a factor in allowing this use on our open space lands. Not wanting to share open space with different types of visitors or having one’s experience changed from a past level is not a data metric.
The mountain bike community is all too familiar with public processes based on guesswork, fear and speculation, including the West TSA process that continues to unfairly prohibit bikes on over 100 miles of trails west of Boulder. Let’s make this decision based on facts and data.“
This comment is at 2:28 of the meeting recording. Stick around for the next comment by former Boulder City Council member Steve Pomerance, in which a threat of violence of “sticks through people’s spokes” and a “revolt” is mentioned.
“Steve Pomerance (xxx 17th Street), I’m 81 I still ride mountain bikes. I’ve been riding mountain bikes since mountain bikes first existed. And I support the open space board of trustees recommendation. However, I would further limit it to say no singletracks. No electric bikes on singletracks. And so I’m going to hit a few points here, first the legal issues around this approach that’s recommended by staff won’t stand up and I suspect you guys will end up in court. The areas that are necessary for transportation, most of them aren’t. I ride a regular bike too and you can get around fine, you don’t need to use any of those trails.
Nobody seems to be talking about the effects on wildlife and animals. Uh, and plants. If you’ve ever ridden on a singletrack on the weekends here in Boulder you know that bikes are going off the trail all the time. Because there’s too many of ‘em already. And these are human powered bikes. Imagine what will happen when you put a bunch of e-bikes out there in addition? Tripling the population of bikes. They already drive most of the hikers off on the south end of town. And so this is just going to get worse. You gotta realize e-bikes make it a lot easier to go out there and do it, so there’s going to be a lot more people. And it’s already bad. Nobody wants to go out there and ride on the weekends except people that can’t do anything else.
With regard to this notion somebody proposed a pilot on singletrack trails west of Broadway? You want a revolt? You’re gonna have one. I mean, people are going to start putting sticks through people’s spokes over something like that. And compliance? There’s no enforcement now. So, you know, it’s going to get better? Who’s going to pay for that? And how are you going to do it? Radar guns? Is open space folks going to be out there with radar guns and ticket books? It’s not a good idea. Don’t do it.”
View more information on Boulder’s Bike Ban in the West TSA and beyond, and BMA’s full updates city’s E-Bike Evaluation Process.