E-bikes may hit trail soon

A bicyclist passes a sign Sunday that announces the prohibition of motorized vehicles on the Colorado Riverfront Trail at the trail’s intersection with 29 Road. A recently passed Colorado law removes electric bikes from the definition of motor vehicles, and Grand Junction is poised to allow the e-bikes, according to a recent change of heart by members of the Colorado Riverfront Commission.



QUICKREAD

E-BIKE CLASSIFICATIONS

State law defines e-bikes as:

■ Class 1: Electrical assisted bike with a motor that engages only when a rider is pedaling, with assistance topping out at a speed of 20 mph.

■ Class 2: Electrical assisted bike with a motor that engages regardless if a rider is pedaling, topping out at a speed of 20 mph.

■ Class 3: Electrical assisted bike with a motor that engages only when a rider is pedaling, but assistance tops out at a speed of 28 mph.



Owners of electric bikes who faced an uphill battle to ride on the Colorado Riverfront Trail may see a smooth road ahead.

Members of the Colorado Riverfront Commission previously banned the bikes along the Grand Valley’s roughly 26-mile path, but have changed their stance.

Because of a change of heart at the state level, commission members told members of the Grand Junction City Council at a recent meeting that they now are neutral on the issue.

Frank Watt, co-chairman of the commission, told councilors that the issue of whether to allow the bikes on the path would be up to the municipalities along the path.

Watt said group members still are not comfortable with safety issues such as having cyclists traveling at varying speeds, considering the sharp bends in the path.

“We want to be there to assist the city and make the trail as safe as possible,” Watt said.

A recently passed Colorado law is boosting the e-bike cause. The law removes electric bikes from the definition of motor vehicles, defining e-bikes in three categories.

The Grand Junction Parks and Recreation Advisory Board says Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes are allowed in areas where all bicycles are allowed, an effort to benefit the community’s health.

E-bikes had been banned on the Colorado Riverfront Trail because they previously were classified as motorized vehicles.

Great Outdoors Colorado grants are given for bike path construction, but not for motorized routes.

Commission members worried that allowing e-bikes on the trails could rescind trail funding or botch future grant possibilities from the state agency for trail construction.

GOCO has modified its position on motorized use in relation to e-bikes, allowing individual cities to decide whether to allow the bikes.

Grand Junction is poised to allow the bikes, according to councilors’ wishes at the meeting.

A letter dated April 20 by Grand Junction City Manager Greg Caton to the commission states e-bike use is increasing, allowing more people to exercise and commute.

“GOCO’s stance regarding e-bikes has driven local policy for years,” Caton’s letter reads. “With GOCO’s change in position with deference to local governments, communities across the state have evaluated the allowance of e-bikes. We owe it to our business and community members to assess their potential use on the Riverfront Trail.”


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