Draft plan for e-bikes on trails gets adjustments

Chief vows increased police presence on River Trail

Ali Tracey, with Second Avenue Sports, in April describes some of the features on an e-bike that they sell at the store. Enlarge photo

Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file

Ali Tracey, with Second Avenue Sports, in April describes some of the features on an e-bike that they sell at the store.

The issue of e-bikes on Durango area trails has been a point of contention among community members for nearly six months. The issue continued to garner public attention Monday at a joint advisory board meeting at the Durango Recreation Center.

The Multimodal, Parks and Recreation and Natural Lands Preservation boards continued discussion of the city’s e-bike draft plan, making a few adjustments. The city recently proposed a one-year trial of allowing e-bikes on the trail.

While implementing permanent speed limits on the Animas River Trail was previously discussed, the idea was scrapped.

“The current draft plan no longer has speed limits,” Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz said. “Instead, it recommends going 10 mph.”

There was some discussion on whether or not to recommend a 10 mph speed limit on all hard-surface trails. A motion was approved in favor of recommending bikes travel 10 mph or less on all hard-surface trails.

Durango Police Chief Kamran Afzal tried to assuage the public’s concern over e-bikes and general trail safety, assuring that his team will monitor the Animas River Trail more closely in upcoming months.

“We are going to take two officers and put them in charge of addressing community problems that reoccur,” he said. “The intent is to be very visible on trails and in downtown areas where there are issues.”

Afzal agreed with the decision to recommend speeds rather than enforce a speed limit. “We already have enough regulations in the books that if someone is riding dangerously, we can ticket them. We do not need another regulation,” he said.

The officers patrolling problem areas and addressing e-bike concerns will eventually double to four, according to Afzal. A stronger police presence on the River Trail is expected by mid-June.

A second motion was approved to include class one and class two e-bikes in the draft plan, given their similarities. Both classes have an electric motor with an output of 750 watts of power, along with a maximum motor-powered speed of 20 mph and pedals that propel the bike by human power.

City Councilor Sweetie Marbury raised concern over how to evaluate the success or failure of the one-year e-bike trial period.

“Before this goes to Durango City Council, this group needs a way to assess the pros and cons over the next year,” she said.

The board approved a motion to let the decision of how to evaluate e-bikes trial year fall in the hands of city staff.

The City Council is expected to take up the boards’ recommendation later in May.

mrupani@durangoherald.com

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