Electric bikes allowed on paved trails, but not in wilderness
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — Electric-assisted bicycles are becoming popular, but on county trails, stay on the pavement.
The county lets people use motorized bicycles on paved shared-use trails, except the e-bikes capable of the most power.
The Centennial Trail, the Interurban Trail and parts of Whitehorse Trail are the three spots around the county you can ride an e-bike.
Lord Hill Regional Park isn’t one of them. The county does not allow e-bikes to be
ridden inside regional parks at the moment.
The parks department has evaluated e-bikes in Lord Hill Park, according to county parks department spokeswoman Shannon Hays.
“We’re still discussing the implications” of letting e-bikes in Lord Hill Park, Hays said. These considerations include safety and speed.
In a follow-up statement, Hays clarified: “E-bikes are not currently being considered on tertiary trails in the Snohomish County park system (that includes Lord Hill),” and any policy change
would go through an extensive environmental impact review and public process.
The executive director of the nonprofit Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance said her group wouldn’t want
e-bikes in Lord Hill Park.
“It’s not something we are advocating for or want,” Yvonne Kraus said.
Lord Hill Park doesn’t have any paved trails.
An e-bike gives a pedal-assisted boost that generally lets riders go faster or climb hills easier. Seattle-based Rad Power Bikes is an example manufacturer.
The county’s policy allows e-bikes built to cut the motorized pedal assist when the bicycle reaches 20 mph. A swifter class of e-bike, Class 3 bikes, cuts the motor assist at 28 mph and comes equipped with a speedometer. These Class 3 e-bikes are banned from all county trails.
The county has a page on its website about e-bike rules.
It’s not that e-bike users are cruising at 20 mph all the time. The electric boost helps getting up hills and being able to maintain more speed with less exertion.
State laws on e-bikes changed last year, which
redefined e-bikes as a bicycle versus, say, a motor scooter. The change gave e-bikes generally the same riding rights as bicycles on paved areas. A group of bicycle groups helped shape the laws to accommodate e-bikes.
The law sets aside mountain bike-friendly single track trails as closed to e-bikes by default, unless the landowner decides to allow it, Kraus noted. The mountain bike group helped craft this provision.
The National Parks Service in late August determined to newly allow e-bikes in national parks on the same trails and paths bicycles are allowed. Neither are allowed in designated wilderness areas.
A broad range of outdoors groups opposed the idea, representing hikers, backpackers, hunters, horse packers, climbers and mountain bikers. They sent The U.S. Department of the Interior a joint letter objecting to introducing motorized bikes on traditionally
non-motorized areas, stating scenic trails are intended to be serene and slower pace.
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