COLORADO SPRINGS — More bike traffic is coming to trails in Colorado Springs as a year-long pilot program brings e-bikes into the mix in May 2021.
Right now, urban trails such as Pikes Peak Greenway, Cottonwood Creek Trail, Homestead Trail, or Midland Trail are the only trails Class 1 e-bikes riders can utilize.
Class 1 bikes are pedal-assist units defined as "The electric drive system on the e-bike can only be activated through a pedaling action and is limited to relatively low speeds. In America, this class is limited to a motor powered speed of 20 mph (32 kph) with a motor wattage of <= 750 watts," according to the city's website.
"I have no problem with that on urban trails. I think that is more what e-bikes are suited for," said Chuck Thompson, an avid biker.
The program introduced by the City Parks and Staff will allow those Class 1 e-bikes to be ridden on soft-surfaced trails, such as Red Rock Canyon Open Space, North Cheyenne Canyon, and Ute Valley Park.
"I think adding the e-bikes in there will add more conflict than we are used to," said Thompson.
While the program has some bikers like Thompson a bit uncertain, it has others excited.
"We wanted to go up in the mountains, not really high, but we wanted to go up there on our bikes. We didn't want to have to pedal up the mountains, so we got e-bikes for that very reason," said e-bike rider Sonya Leverton.
The program will also allow Class 2 e-bikes on urban trails. These units are defined as, "The electric drive system on the e-bike can be activated through a throttle element such as a grip-twist, trigger or button and is limited to low speeds. The motor system may also be activated through a pedaling action as with Class 1. In America, the top speed is limited to 20 mph (32 kph) with a motor wattage of <= 750 watts as with Class 1," according to the city's website.
"We didn't want to pedal all the way up, so we could do the pedal assist on these," said Leverton.
According to Susan Davies, executive director of Trails and Open Space Coalition, the city is urging local trails and parks to have clear signage for bikers to know whether or not a Class 1 or Class 2 e-bike is permitted.
"There are a lot of people walking, bike riders, dogs, and stuff like that. Just be careful. Show kindness to your neighbors," said Leverton.
The speed limit for the e-bikes will remain at 15mph, according to Davies.
There is Class 3 e-bike defined as, "The electric drive system on the e-bike can be activated through a pedaling action to reach higher top speeds. In America this class could still be considered a “low-speed electric bicycle” if human power propels the bike above 20 mph and as such, does not require special licensing but may be even more restricted to roads, adjacent bike lanes or on private property with a maximum speed ~28 mph (~45 kph) and motor wattage of <= 750 watts," according to the city's website.