As the market for various electric mobility devices, including e bikes, evolves, we have found the need to be clear on our current position on e-bicycles.
E-bikes are specifically defined as one of the following:
- Class 1: eBikes that are pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph.
- Class 2: eBikes that also have a maximum speed of 20 mph, but are throttle-assisted.
- Class 3: eBikes that are pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and a maximum assisted speed of 28 mph.
- All classes limit the motor’s power to 1 horsepower (750W).
It is important to recognize these classifications, because all of these bikes directly resemble “acoustic” bicycles outwardly. The bike industry and bicycle advocacy organizations have embraced these standards deliberately in order to produce and promote products that can be accepted in the same places and ways as bicycles. None of the major bike industry manufacturers produce bicycles that do not meet these parameters. That said, there are conversion kits and other electric scooters and mopeds that, at first glance, look like a bicycle, but they do not fit the above classifications, and are therefore not considered to be “e-bicycles”.
Any position that Flagstaff Biking Organization takes is couched in the above e-bike classification system.
Flagstaff Biking Organization strongly supports the inclusion of e-bikes as bicycles in our urban infrastructure. E-bikes have huge potential to get people out of cars on a daily basis to commute, run errands, and recreate and exercise. Although some have expressed fear that the Flagstaff Urban Trail System might become overrun with e-bikes, we see that as a great victory. If the FUTS, or other urban multimodal infrastructure, is overwhelmed with people who have left their cars at home, then we would finally see the necessary political will to fund the level of infrastructure necessary to foment a substantial modality shift. Conversely, we have rarely witnessed a similar level of concern from decision makers regarding roads being “over run with cars”, although this scenario occurs frequently and at much greater cost and consequence than does with bicycling infrastructure.
Non-motorized, natural surface trails in the National Forests and other public land
The U.S. Forest Service has issued guidance to manage e-bike use on the National Forest System. In light of this guidance, Flagstaff Biking Organization has updated our position on e-mountain bike access.
Flagstaff Biking Organization supports allowing e-bikes on some previously non-motorized routes with appropriate analysis and public input. E-bikes are here to stay, and the effects to the natural environment and other trail users created by e-bike use are virtually indistinguishable from regular bicycles. It is appropriate to allow e-bikes in some places where motorized use is otherwise prohibited.
We recognize that the mountain bike community still has mixed feelings on this issue. These differences in opinion include concerns about potential threats to all bike access if e-bikes are allowed on currently non-motorized routes, philosophical distinctions between “motorized” and “muscle powered”, trail crowding, easing access to those unprepared for back country conditions, safety, and more. We also recognize that e-bikes are being readily accepted by many riders, and that they are differ greatly from other motorized vehicles.
With sufficient public input, and analysis of other potential impacts to resources, some formerly non-motorized trails are appropriate for e-bike inclusion.