Electric bikes cause revolt on river trail

I have been noticing more “electric bikes” around town. I believe they’re a great alternative to driving a car and fully support them on city streets. However, I have also seen them on the Animas River Trail. Isn’t the trail only for nonmotorized vehicles? I know that they can be operated by leg or electric power, but I have encountered them in “electric” mode. These bicycles can travel faster than human-powered ones, and there is enough conflict in our city between cyclists and other recreationists as is. Can you clarify the city’s stance? – Concerned Trail User

When it comes to rules governing the river trail, we turn to Kevin Hall, the city’s director of natural lands, trails and sustainability, who made it clear: “No motorized vehicles, period.”

Or punctuate that with an asterisk.

Every regulation has an exception, and that goes for the river trail, where a hard pavement encourages fast travel. Therefore, it’s not a hard-and-fast rule.

Electric motors can be used by folks who need mechanical assistance.

“Anyone with a blue handicapped sticker, placard or tags is welcome to use a mobility device on the trail,” Kevin said.

Traditionally, this means an electric wheelchair. Technically, a person could use his or her handicapped placard for an electric bike. But that’s a stretch.

At least the city is flexible enough to help residents who need some leeway to travel hither and yon. Kudos for that.

But that’s not the real issue here. Please allow Your Columnist to interfere in matters of cycling civics. In other words, it’s time to put the meddle to the pedal with an Action Line rant.

What the heck is an electric motor doing on a cycle? Seriously. And why would a derailer-crazed town such as Durango encourage the use of a bastardized bike?

Durango takes great pride in proclaiming its status as a “Bicycle Friendly Community.

However, welcoming bikes with electric motors is a semantic face-plant.

A bike with a motor is not a bike. It’s a moped. And a badly underpowered one at that.

So, dear potential electric-bike owners, if you are not legally disabled, but feel the need to motorize your Huffy, consider the consequences.

Harley riders will sneer. Durango Wheel Club members will scoff. Scooter enthusiasts will see you nothing but wimpy poseurs.

Even Mrs. Action Line riding her ancient Schwinn with ram’s horn handles will give you the look.

And you don’t ever want to be on the other end of “the look” from Mrs. Action Line.

Electric bikes offer the worst of all worlds.

You can’t enter the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic because you are mechanically assisted.

Yet, take to the open road and your lack of horsepower will serve only to boost your hearse-power. Better sign that donor card.

Everyone who loves the river trail should be aghast, enraged and downright incensed at the notion of electric bicycles being used on Durango’s crown jewel.

So let’s calm down. Take a deep breath.

Then, mark Sept. 26 on your calendar.

That’s when we’ll celebrate the linking of the river trail from north to south by forming a seven-mile nonmotorized human chain.

More than 7,000 people are needed that morning and be part of this fun only-in-Durango event. Find out more, sign up or volunteer at www.DurangoConnect.com.

And the best thing about a seven-mile human chain?

It will serve to block any blockhead trying to ride an electric bike where he or she shouldn’t.

Imagine members of the multi-modal rainbow having their collective buzz killed by the mosquito-like drone of an electric bike.

The only colors in that encounter will be black and blue.

Email questions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 80301. You can request anonymity if you install pedals on your car and call it a hybrid.

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