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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”