By Jamie Leary

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Larimer County is among many Colorado counties which has chosen to allow e-bikes only on paved surfaces. During an advisory board meeting Tuesday night, the Larimer County Department of Natural Resources reviewed a recent study showing a majority of people surveyed, do not want e-bikes on natural trails.

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The only county to allow this so far? Jefferson County, and 2018 was its first full year with the policy in place.

“One of the things we found is that e-bikes don’t really contribute to conflict, nor have we seen an increase in crowding,” said Mary Ann Bonnell, the Visitor Services Manager for Jefferson County Open Space.

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Jefferson County conducted an extensive pilot program in 2017 where they surveyed other trail users and even went as far as to saturate the trails with e-bikes. More than half of those they spoke with during that year said they didn’t even notice the e-bikes on the trails.

“In the pilot year we had total, we tracked, 58 comments about e-bikes. Only 17% of those were negative the rest were either positive or neutral. We have 7 million visitors annually and 58 comments? We get to that number for off leash dogs in a month,” said Bonnell.

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In the recent study published by Larimer County, of the 771 people surveyed online, more than 60% were opposed to having e-bikes.

Among the reasons cited, overcrowding and visitor safety were primary concerns.

“It’s completely valid that different counties are different and that by their results, they don’t feel comfortable allowing e-bikes on natural surface trails. I would say our experience in Jefferson County has been a very positive one and that a lot of the things that people thought would happen if we allowed e-bikes… just haven’t panned out,” said Bonnell.

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Larimer County will review its e-bike policy again in 2021 to see if changes should be made as e-bikes grow in popularity.

From Bonnell’s perspective, the e-bike debate boils down to one simple thing:

“It’s really not the bike you’re on, it’s the person that’s riding the bike and their courtesy skills and how they’re treating other visitors that really generates those negative remarks.”

LINK: Larimer County E-Bike Study

Jamie Leary