A new law could open more Colorado bike paths to e-bikes

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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A bike speeds by the Cherry Creek.

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A bike speeds by Cherry Creek.

Biking to work might be more feasible if you didn’t have to pedal so much. One problem: E-bikes still aren’t legal on many of Colorado’s bike paths.

E-bikes, or electric bicycles, use a small electric engine to boost riders’ speeds. One of the most popular varieties is the “pedal assist,” which combines the riders’ muscles with the motor’s hustle.

Colorado already treats these pedal-assist e-bikes like normal bicycles, meaning you don’t need a license or a helmet to ride them – but that only applies if you’re on the road or in a bike lane.

It’s still illegal to turn on the electric engine on Colorado’s shared-use paths, such as the Cherry Creek and South Platte trails, unless the city specifically allows it. (That’s according to the National Institute for Transportation and Communities.)

As it stands, Denver’s parks rules don’t address electric bikes, or e-bikes.

The city’s rules say that “motorized vehicles” are not allowed on the trails, with the exception of motorized wheelchairs for people with disabilities. There’s no mention of electric bikes, which means you can’t turn on the pedal-assist on the trails, according to my reading of the state law.

The city of Boulder, on the other hand, has specifically allowed e-bikes to travel up to 15 mph on its multi-use trails since 2014. The city’s leaders figured that allowing low-speed electrics could make the trails more popular – and that philosophy could spread to more of Colorado.

Bicycle advocates want a state-wide law to allow more e-bike access.

In fact, the state legislature could consider a proposal to do that this winter, the Denver Post reports, citing Luis Benitez, chief of the state’s Office of Outdoor Recreation Industry.

Such a bill could allow e-bikes onto many more of the state’s bike paths, and it could be considered this winter, the Denver Post reported.

The feature story, reported by Jason Blevins, is about much more than just multi-use trails. It describes how e-bikes could fit into our transportation network and how Colorado is trying to entice the e-bike industry, along with some more of the issues that their popularity will bring. It’s worth a read, as always.