Durango City Council has directed staff to revamp a long-standing ban on motorized vehicles on city trails, a rule change that will allow electric bicycles, or e-bikes, on paved trails in the city.
The rule change is the result of more than a year of work among three resident committees to determine whether e-bikes would be suitable on paved city trails. The city undertook a yearlong trial period in which e-bikes were allowed on city trails, and although the Parks and Recreation Department sought comments, it didnâ€™t receive a single complaint about e-bikes on city paved trails.
The joint advisory boards tasked with determining how to allow e-bikes on city paths unanimously recommended the new rule to the City Council.
The proposed rules would allow e-bikes on the Animas River Trail, the sidewalk along Florida Road, the Goeglein Gulch Road Trail, SMART 160 Trail and the Three Springs Trail.
The city proposed allowing Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes. Class 1 e-bikes are those that assist riders while pedaling but not otherwise. Class 2 e-bikes have the capability to propel a bicycle without pedaling up to 20 mph.
The effort to allow e-bikes comes at the request of residents, said Cathy Metz, director of Parks and Recreation. E-bikes have become popular worldwide, and cities around the country have been grappling with how to allow the machines to operate safely on roadways.
One thing Durango will grapple with in coming months is whether e-bikes should be allowed on unpaved city trails. Metz said many cities around the nation do not allow e-bikes on natural surface trails, but it is something the advisory boards have at least expressed interest in considering.