E-bikes still not allowed on Emerald after recent Bureau of Land Management order
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Last month, the Bureau of Land Management published its final order on electric bikes, giving each field manager the final say on where e-bikes will be allowed following an environmental impact review.
As of right now, nothing will change in the BLM-managed land on the backside of Emerald Mountain in Steamboat Springs.
“We are certainly open to considering e-bikes in the Emerald Mountain area, but we want to make sure that we’re consistent with what the (city) of Steamboat Springs is doing, since our trails at Emerald Mountain tie in with the trails on the city of Steamboat Springs property,” said Maribeth Pecotte, Northwest District Public Affairs officer.
So, until the city and the BLM agree upon a different resolution, the trails on Emerald Mountain will remain nonmotorized.
The order also separates e-bikes from other motorized vehicles with which they were previously lumped into a single motorized category.
With e-bikes now designated as a separate entity, it may make approving the use of the bikes easier on more trails, since a major concern was opening the door for e-bikes and allowing other motorized vehicles to slip through.
“When we do future travel management planning in that area, it’s likely something that we’ll consider,” said Pecotte. “Whether we decide to move forward with it or not, is an unknown conclusion. Now that we have the flexibility to be able to manage e-bikes like regular bicycles.”
Allowing e-bikes on more terrain in Steamboat Springs has been a hot topic for more than a year now. A 2018 resolution allowed Type I e-bikes on the Yampa River Core Trail and Walton Creek Trail. Over the past year, the city and the Parks and Recreation Commission have heard public input on a potential trial period of allowing e-bikes on soft surface trails around the city.
There are three classes of e-bikes based on how the bike provides additional power and its maximum speed:
• Class 1 e-bikes activate the electric drive system when a rider pedals, without a throttle, and has a governor that limits the bike to a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour.
• Class 2 e-bikes activate the electric drive system via a throttle and have a maximum speed of 20 miles per hour.
• Class 3 e-bikes activate the electric drive system when the rider pedals, without a throttle, but has a higher maximum speed of 28 miles per hour.
E-bikes are limited to motors under one horsepower. Machines with motors larger than one horsepower are considered mopeds or motorcycles.
The public has expressed speed and safety concerns, especially when pertaining to e-bike use on Emerald Mountain.
The Parks and Recreation Commission asked the public for their thoughts on potentially expanding e-bike use in the city, which resulted in a resounding negative reaction. The commission decided against a soft surface trial period, but will recommend to Steamboat Springs City Council to expand usage on the Core Trail and Walton Creek Trail to Class-1 and Class-2 e-bikes.
City Council will look at the recommendation at the Dec. 8 work session. From there, City Council President Jason Lacy said the council could implement the changes immediately, ask for further review, or send the matter to an official vote.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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