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Pilot program would allow e-bikes on 5 popular trails in Seattle

Seattle Parks and Recreation is considering a pilot program to allow e-bike riders to use 5 popular multi-use trails in the city. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - A growing demand for e-bikes means the city of Seattle now has to decide if they should be allowed on the city's shared trails.

A meeting at Seattle Parks and Recreation Headquarters Thursday night kicked off the discussion on a new proposed pilot program that would allow the use of e-bikes on five multi-use trails.

Those trails include the Burke-Gilman Trail, Elliott Bay Trail, Mountains to Sound Trail, Melrose Connector Trail, and Duwamish Trail.

Tom Fucoloro is the founder of SeattleBikeBlog.com. He is 100 percent behind expanding electric bicycles onto some of our regional trails.

"It makes a lot of sense, especially since we have $1 e-bikes all over the city, and a lot of our best biking routes are trails,” said Fucoloro.

Currently, motorized vehicles such as electric bicycles, golf carts and Segways are prohibited on Seattle park trails.

Park authorities are considering some changes, since more people are riding bikes and e-bikes.

Mike Radenbaugh is the CEO and Founder of RAD Power Bikes in Ballard.

“The demand for e-bikes has been growing substantially, about 6 or 7 times in the last few years,” said Radenbaugh.

But, some wonder and worry what that'll mean for the safety of runners or people walking on the trails.

“A lot of people who ride these bikes aren't familiar with right of ways. And etiquette of trails. Frequently, I end up having to stop,” said Michelle Herman, as she wrapped up a 3-mile run on the Burke Gilman Trail.

Seattle Parks and Recreation said it's looking at creating a safe system for all trail users.

It's also considering a 15-mile-per-hour speed limit for anyone using the five designed trails.

LimeBike said it has 700 e-bikes for rent in Seattle right now.

“Our current bike tops out at 14.8 miles per hour, which is faster than a walking speed, but it is not faster than what bicyclists normally ride on a standard bike,” said Gabriel Scheer, LimeBike's Director of Strategic Development.

Fucoloro said everyone's safety is important. But, he said most people on e-bikes aren't looking for speed.

“Speed is mostly about how much effort you put in. And most e-bike users are people who want a little extra boost to get up the hill, or to get started. They're not using it to be a little motorcycle,” said Fucoloro.

A public hearing is scheduled for April 26 and a vote is scheduled for mid-May.

If this project moves forward, e-bikes could hit the trails starting summer 2019.

POLL: Should electric bikes be allowed on shared trails? Answer the poll below or click here.


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