City of Aspen moving toward mandatory e-bike education
Aspen City Council initially approves requiring bicycle renters to watch safety video before heading on the trails
Aspen City Council on Tuesday initially approved a slate of revisions to the city’s municipal code meant to improve safety on the trails, including mandating all businesses that offer e-bikes require that their clients watch a safety video.
Some of the changes, which council approved on first reading in an ordinance, have been discussed for over a decade while others are in response to recent changes in trail use, notably the proliferation of e-bikes, and particularly those who rent them, according to Brian Long, the city’s trail system manager.
The revisions are in the spirit of improving etiquette and safety on the city’s trail system and to keep ahead of trends in use.
“Some of these are timeless and talked about in the parks department for some time, like announcing when you pass, requiring bells on rental fleets and codifying the signage that guides user behavior on the Nordic trail system,” Long told council during its Tuesday meeting. “A lot of that has been a very, very long time in need and some other of these (restrictions) are in response to recent trends in the last four or five years with the emergence of e-bikes and rental e-bikes and how that changes the dynamic on the trails for our local users.”
Changes to the code include mandating that any bicycle or e-bike used on the Aspen trail system “shall be sound and safe for use and shall be equipped with a bell or other device for announcing on the trail system,” according to city documents.
Businesses that offer five or more bicycles or e-bikes for rent or for complimentary use must ensure that all users of the fleet have watched an orientation video for safe operation of bicycles and e-bikes in Aspen as prescribed by the parks and recreation director.
The video is about two minutes long and is produced by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, said Matt Kuhn, the city’s parks and open space director.
He also noted that Long spent a lot of time with bicycle shops going over the code revisions and other details that affect their operations.
The code revisions additionally make it clear what the proper etiquette is when approaching other trail users, which is to announce with an audible signal or voice before overtaking others.
Bicyclists, skaters, pedestrians and others must yield to equestrians. Horses are restricted to the unpaved portions of trails unless otherwise posted as provided by law.
Bicyclists and skaters must yield to pedestrians, and bicyclists yield to skaters, and downhill users yield to uphill users.
Faster users yield to slower users, and trail users must stop at all roads and yield to any automobile traffic, unless the intersection is posted otherwise.
Users of the trail system after dark, on any type of bicycle or other allowed device, are required to use a light, according to the updated code.
The code revisions also define e-bike classes and set allowances and limits, as well as define other powered devices allowed or limited on trails, including the prohibition of vehicles on the Nordic trail system.
The changes and the issues behind them have been discussed at length by staff within the Parks and Open Space Department, at meetings of the city’s pedestrian and bicycle safety team, and with the Open Space and Trails board, according to Long.
The code changes are also reflective of input by city and county ranger staff and their experiences and interaction with the public while observing dynamics of trail use in the field.
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