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The City of Steamboat Springs Parks and Recreation Commission is considering possible recommendations to City Council for a trial period allowing e-bikes on soft surface City owned trails. Current City policy only allows for Class 1 e-bikes on the Yampa River Core Trail and Walton Creek Trail (paved trails). Additionally, there is discussion on whether or not class 2 e-bikes should be allowed on the Yampa River Core Trail and Walton Creek Trail.
Overview of e-bike classes:
- Class 1: Bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bikes reaches 20mph.
- Class 2: Bicycle equipped with a throttle-actuated motor that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 20 mph.
- Class 3: Bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to provide assistance when the e-bike reaches 28mph. NOTE: Class 3 e-bikes are not allowed on non-motorized trails according to state law and are not being considered in any of our e-bike discussions. Class 3 are only allowed on roads or motorized trails.
Potential trial period location information
- City Staff is NOT recommending use of e-bikes on the Spring Creek Trail. Since Spring Creek is a shared trail that connects to United States Forest Service property where e-bikes are not allowed, the City is not recommending any changes to e-bike policy on City owned land in the Spring Creek Canyon.
Soft surface neighborhood trails (~6 plus feet wide):
- Parks and Recreation Commission is discussing possible recommendations for a trial period allowing e-bikes on soft surface neighborhood trails. Many neighborhood trails offer connectivity through Steamboat Springs that allow users to avoid roads. Neighborhood connector trails include: Blue Sage, Butcherknife, Tamarack Sneak, Bear Creek, Sanctuary, Sailors Way and Fox Creek (to the overpass) trails. Please refer to the map for detail on neighborhood trail locations.
- Parks and Recreation Commission is discussing possible recommendations for a trial period allowing Class 1 e-bikes on Emerald Mountain. Recent studies have shown that e-bikes cause no more trail degradation than traditional bicycles and they have been successfully integrated into much busier trail systems (Jefferson County allows e-bikes with 7 million trail visitors per year).
The backside of Emerald Mountain is managed by the Bureau of Land Management which currently does not allow e-bikes. The Emerald Mountain Trail System is configured differently than Spring Creek Trail (which passes from City property to Forest Service property on one continuous trail) and Emerald trail users can access approximately 24 miles of trails on City property before coming to a defined trailhead for the BLM where no-e-bike signs could be placed (with the exception of Wild Rose). The City would require that Wild Rose (starts on City property and becomes BLM land within a few hundred feet) remain closed to e-bikes. Additionally, the Bureau of Land Management is currently reviewing their e-bike policy and note that there are management and user benefits to having a similar policy as the City of Steamboat Springs in place for their trail system.
A proposed trial period would promise nothing in permanence. It would give the City a chance to observe any potential changes or issues that may arise over a year long period and see if e-bikes can be successfully incorporated. Currently, there is no enforcement of e-bike use on the trails and this would not change without direction and support from City Council. If e-bikes are allowed on only a few trails, it may result in a crowding effect as the options for use will be limited. Alternately, a trial period on more trails may allow for dispersal of users and a more accurate measure of impacts.