At the end of June, the city of Durango will allow pedal-assist electric bikes on 10 miles of trails at Twin Buttes Open Space. Although this one-year trial is the second of its kind in Durango, it’s the first time e-bikes will have been allowed on natural trails. Durango City Council gave Parks and Recreation the go-ahead for the project at a recent City Council meeting.
The trial will only permit Class One e-bikes — these have no throttle and a maximum pedal-assisted speed of 20 miles per hour. Class Two e-bikes reach the same speed, but are throttle assisted. They won’t be allowed during the trial. “What we’re doing now is we’re getting our educational material completed, such as brochures, signs and online information,” explained Cathy Metz, Parks and Recreation Director. “We’re going to ask people to keep in touch with us during the trial period, but that’ll all be a part of this educational piece.”
Durango briefly banned e-bikes in 2016 due to safety concerns. “Some people said it isn’t so much about the e-bike, it’s about all the bikes,” Metz said. “People were concerned about being run off the trail by bike traffic.” In 2017, a one-year trial was held permitting Class 1 and Class 2 electric bikes on hard-surface paths, including the Animas River Trail. Fortunately, educational materials, trail signage, and painted stripping improved safety. “What we found is that really helped to make the trial successful,” Metz said. Laws were changed to allow Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes on the pathways. “We’re trying to do the same process for the natural surface trail trial in Twin Buttes.”
There were 22 bicycle fatalities in Colorado last year — the highest number since 2002. E-bikes can potentially travel at higher speeds than regular bikes, which makes safety even more of a priority for riders. If a rider has an accident while cycling, injury and medical bills can be an unfortunate yet common result. When the accident is caused by someone else’s negligence, it’s worth consulting a reputable bicycle accident lawyer. An experienced attorney can help injured riders win appropriate compensation, and is well-versed in the specifics of laws relating to cyclists. To avoid an accident in the first place, however, always pay attention to traffic and consider how drivers perceive you. A bell, lights, and bright clothing can ensure visibility.
E-bikes are an increasingly popular method of transport. They even open up cycling to important demographics like the elderly and people with disabilities. If the upcoming trial is a success, Durango residents can look forward to experiencing the joys of e-biking this summer.