Colorado Springs Parks Department and City Council address EBikes and EScooters

In October of 2020 Colorado Springs Parks Department and City Council explore expanding access for EBikes and EScooters throughout Colorado Springs

On Wednesday October 14th, Bike Colorado Springs (Bike COS) participated in a conversation with community stakeholders about the place of EBikes on trails within our city’s park system.

It was insightful to hear from a broad range of trail users from equestrians to hikers and a diverse group of bicyclists from bike shop owners to a couple in their 70s who started riding again thanks to EBikes. Our friends at Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates have put out their stance here; we support their stance for a phased roll out of E Mountain Bike access on our park system’s single-track trails paired with an in-depth education effort. The mission and goals of Bike Colorado Springs focus our position more directly on our city’s urban trail network and the use of EBikes or EMobility vehicles for transportation.

A simple survey from Colorado Springs Parks is open until Nov. 20th, we will update this page with a link to the survey results if published and any change to the EBike Policy when it is decided.

A similar topic has been broached by city council with regards to E-Mobility devices in Colorado Springs, specifically E-Scooter Share. We think that it is the right time to address access and limitations for these vehicles as the number of users continues to rise in Colorado Springs.

Below are photos of the EBike conversation, including boards where participants could express their positions on why they do or don’t support expanded EBike access within the Colorado Springs Park and Trail System.

E-Bikes In Colorado Springs

EBikes are an ever growing part of the bicycle market globally, in the US, as well as in the Colorado Springs Market specifically. EBikes and E-Mobility devices (Electric scooters, one wheels, Electric skateboards, Etc.) are also a growing piece of the urban mobility puzzle world wide and make a lot of sense in Colorado Springs. EBikes are an efficient, cost-effective and fun way to travel, and have been shown to change transportation habits. Nationally, 45% of all vehicle trips are 3 Miles or less, while trips over 6 miles account for 40% of all trips. This data shows that there is a large percentage of vehicle trips that are well within the range of an average bicycle rider, a distance that is that much more reasonable for people using an EBike. This is especially true in our city as we do have some challenging topography, EBikes remove that barrier as can be seen with the growth and success of PikeRide ever since our local bike share provider introduced EBikes to their fleet. EBikes make it possible to travel longer distances in less time, making EBikes a great solution for the sprawling nature of our city with fairly large distances between destinations. It’s been shown that EBike riders ride more frequently, which is one of our goals at Bike COS. EBikes remove barriers making bike riding more attractive so more people do it.

E-Bikes & E-Mobility devices in our urban environment

For our Urban trail network the definitions of trail type or tier need to be carefully reviewed and defined in a way that is clear and accessible to the public.  Currently, while class 1 ebikes are permitted on Tier 1 and Tier 2 trails we have multiple, unclear trail definitions that make it confusing where ebikes are allowed. Bike COS believes that trails that serve as transportation routes should hold a special transportation designation. These Trails that provide transportation functions, regardless of tier, should be open to Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes and Paved trails that provide transportation functions should be open to e-scooters and other e mobility devices limited to 20mph. The City should produce and maintain an up-to date Trail map that indicates trail tier and clearly denotes allowed vehicles on each tier.

For our city’s on street network Bike COS believes that Bike Lanes, Protected Bike Lanes and Buffered Bike Lanes should be open to Class 1, 2, and 3 EBikes as well as E-Mobility devices. while chapter 10 of our city code is being looked at by Colorado Springs city council to address E-Scooter share, our current code only allows Class 1 and Class 2 EBikes to use on-street bicycle infrastructure.

Bike COS E-Bike & E-Mobility Recommendations

On street bicycle infrastructure
(Bike Lanes, Protected Bike Lanes and Buffered Bike Lanes) should be open to Class 1, 2, and 3 EBikes as well as E-Mobility devices

Trail type/tier definitions
should be carefully reviewed and defined in a way that is clear and accessible to the public.

Clear signage
denoting allowed and disallowed vehicles must be posted at trailheads and trail access points.

Tier 1 & Tier 2 Urban trails
should be open to Class 1 and Class 2 Ebikes

Any trails that provide transportation functions
should be open to Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes

Paved trails that provide transportation functions
should be open to e-scooters.

An up-to date Trail map
that indicates trail tier and allowed vehicles should be produced and maintained by The City of Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs EBike Reference information

Urban Trails

This City Urban Trail reference and Map describes types (tiers) of urban trails, note that some of these examples are inconsistent with the current trail network. 

City Urban Trail Map Link (map last updated in 2008)

COS EBike Reference

The city EBike Page shows that some trails are open to e-bikes by name, excludes their use on “multi-use” trails, with a definition that is inconsistent with the Urban Trail descriptions. There is no definition of “system trails”, typically thought of as more narrow, soft surface walking/hiking trails  in places like Palmer Park, Pulpit rock, etc.

City of Colorado Spring EBike Reference Page

TOSC Bikeway Map

This document was first produced by TOSC as a map showing where EBikes are allowed on Colorado Springs Trails. The map has since been change to the Urban Trail Map but is currently the clearest understanding that we have of where EBikes are currently allowed in Colorado Springs.

Map Link available here

State & County EBike Reference information

Colorado State EBike Law

Enacted in January of 2018 the State of Colorado adopted regulations defining ebikes and where they are allowed. While the state defined these rules EBike regulations are ultimately controlled by local jurisdictions.

Unless otherwise restricted, Class 1 and Class 2 electric bicycles, and scooters are allowed on the same bicycle and pedestrian paths as conventional bicycles.

Local jurisdictions have the authority to prohibit the operation of electric bicycles and scooters on any bicycle or pedestrian path under its jurisdiction.

Local laws pertaining to electric scooters must be no more restrictive than those pertaining to class 1 electric bicycles.

Colorado State Ebike Regulation

El Paso County Parks EBike  Regulations

EBikes are allowed on primary and secondary trails within the El Paso County park and trail network.

El Paso County EBike Regulation Text
Class I and Class II Electrical Assisted Bicycles may use El Paso County Parks Primary and Secondary trails up to a maximum speed of
twenty miles per hour. Class III Electrical Assisted Bicycles are not permitted on any County trail.

El Paso County Parks Regulations (Electrical Assisted Bicycles reference on page 6)

Colorado State Parks EBike Regulations

E-bike use on CPW Lands – Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are allowed the same access as road bikes and mountain bikes, while class 3 e-bikes are only to be allowed on roadways and in designated bike lanes.​

Co State Park EBike Rules Page

BLM/National Forest EBike Regulations

In August 2019, Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt issued Secretary’s Order increasing recreational opportunities through the use of Electric Bikes (e-bikes). While the BLM intends for the rule to increase accessibility to public lands, e-bikes would not be given special access beyond what traditional, non-motorized bicycles are allowed.

The rule provides that authorized officers may authorize, through subsequent land-use planning or implementation-level decisions, the use of Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes on non-motorized roads and trails. The rule does not, by itself, open any non-motorized trails to e-bike use.

Bureau Of Land Managment (BLM EBike Policy) Link available here
National Forest EBike Policy Link available here

Offroad ebike access

At Bike COS we generally take a hands off approach when it comes to local offroad trail and singletrack advocacy, but we believe that EBikes provide an opportunity for people of widely varying fitness levels and ages to enjoy our city’s amazing trail network. Simply stated, Ebikes equal more butts on bikes, and that included mountain bikes.

We do support the stance of Our friends at Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates, advocating for a phased roll out of E Mountain Bike access on our park system’s single-track trails paired with an in-depth education effort. (Click on the image to the right to read Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates complete statement)

While increased conflicts on our trails are often cited as a reason to keep EBikes off our trails we do not believe that electrically assisted bikes will substantially increase these instances. That being said, trail etiquette and education is a topic that must be addressed for all user groups. With COVID bringing many new (masked) faces to our trails we think that education for our newer trail users is essential to reducing conflicts between different user groups. If EBikes do become allowed on Colorado Spring offroad trail signage, clear definition and enforcement are still aspects that will need to be clearly defined.