August 6, 2020
I have just been shown a picture of a sign saying no motorcycles or electric assist bicycles on Tahoe Donner trails. This is truly short sighted and I would go as far as to say wrong. Motorized vehicles have long been banned from TD trails and I agree and support that given these vehicles are large, heavy, noisy and travel at a much different speed than bikes or hikers and even horses. As per California Law electric assist bicycles are not a motor vehicle and do not require any form of registration or licensing so you are extending a rule that does not apply or even exist. I only know of the no motorized vehicle rule, but I am not aware of any board formal debate and subsequent vote on this topic. I know there was a small study done in 2018 and 2019 that recommended a trial for Class 1 electric assist bicycles (Class 1 require a user to pedal and have a max speed of 20mph). Class 1 electric assist bikes cannot go without being pedaled and there are versions of those that cannot even be distinguished from an ordinary bike. Class 2 electric bikes do not need pedal input and can go faster so I agree there are real concerns here.
Class 1 electric bikes are not materially different than non assist mountain bikes except they allow those that need it assistance in climbing etc and in fact many including myself are faster on flats and downhills than Class 1 assist bikes because non-assist bike’s are lighter. If we allow horses of many hundreds of pounds and bikes in general to use the trail there is zero reason to not allow class 1 electric assist bikes. The arguments being offered by some are the equivalent arguments some used to try and ban MTBs in the past.
Unless there is a formal discussion and vote I do not think it is appropriate to try and ban class 1 electric bikes and fact I think it is a flawed effort. Bike Works rents e-bikes so none of this makes any sense and this issue must be properly addressed and not via this knee jerk action.