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Colorado's Jefferson County Open Space allows Class 1 e-bikes on all trails after pilot program

Published November 5, 2018

GOLDEN, Colo. (BRAIN) — Following a pilot program begun in February, land managers in Colorado's Jefferson County (Jeffco) Open Space have made Class 1 e-bikes permanently legal on all trails where traditional bikes are allowed — including about 180 miles of natural-surface trails.

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Jefferson County is west of Denver and includes the cities of Golden and Lakewood. Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes also continue to be legal on Jeffco Open Space's paved trails in line state regulations and Jefferson County Traffic and Engineering Division's regional bikeway plans.

During the pilot period, Jeffco Open Space officials gathered feedback from park users about e-bikes and monitored trail impacts. Fifty-nine park users provided comment during the pilot, with 54 percent reacting positively about e-bikes, 29 percent neutral and 17 percent negative, according to Mary Ann Bonnell, visitor services manager for Jeffco Open Space.

"Most of the feedback has been positive. Of course there are always people who think it's a terrible idea, and we listen to that as well. At this point, compared to what we deal with on our 250 miles of trail, it's a pretty small thing," Bonnell said.

Paved trails saw more e-bike use than natural-surface trails during the pilot, and it appears that e-bike users in the 54,000-acre Open Space tend to be more road bikers and urban riders than mountain bikers, Bonnell noted.

"Our paved trails tend to be commuter trails. People are using them to get their cars off the street, and we feel very strongly that's a good for Colorado and for our communities," she said.

The pilot program was preceded by a 2017 research project conducted in five different parks within Jeffco Open Space. In that study, researchers asked park users about their attitudes toward e-bikes and learned about misconceptions around them. They also provided e-bike test rides and asked whether the ride changed the park user's perception of e-bikes. Sixty-five percent said their perception changed, 32 percent said the ride didn't change their view, and 3 percent said they were not sure.

"We didn't take this decision lightly. We spent a lot of time in 2017 researching e-bikes and how people feel about them, and what people perceived the impact would be," Bonnell said.

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