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Trail Talk: Enjoy the bike ride, but please pay attention

As e-bike use grows, follow the rules of the road

Brandon Hawksley
Special to the Snowmass Sun
James Sandler and his biking buddy, Buster, cruise on Owl Creek Trail from Snowmass to Aspen on a warm afternoon on Owl Creek Road on Tuesday, July 27, 2021. The Owl Creek Trail is one of several paved paths where Class 1 pedal assist e-bikes are permitted in Snowmass Village (pet sidekicks optional).
Kelsey Brunner/The Snowmass Sun

Just in case you have been living under a rock escaping COVID-19 for the past year and a half, I will let you know that use of electric bikes across the country is exploding. You may have noticed them while in Aspen, or maybe you have encountered a large group while riding up Brush Creek Road; either way, e-bike riders are all over our paved trails and roadways.

There are several classes of electric bikes on the market today. Class 1 pedal assist e-bikes do not have a throttle and top out at a max speed of 20 miles per hour. The pedal assist e-bike’s drive system is only activated while the rider is pedaling. Class 2 and 3 e-bikes have the option of throttle assist, where no pedaling is needed to engage the drive system. Only class 1 e-bikes are permitted on the Snowmass Village paved trail system.

I am sure we have all ridden bikes at one point or another in our lifetime. We have all also heard the saying, “It’s like riding a bike.” However, e-bikes are not just like riding a bike that you may remember riding as a child. They handle much differently, and extra caution must also be used when riding an e-bike.



Here are some reminders to take into consideration that will help keep you and the people around you safe while riding an e-bike.

SAFETY FIRST

These bikes are much heavier than a normal bicycle so please take the time to practice riding on a flat wide-open area before taking off on one of our busy paved trails or before riding downhill.




Helmets are strongly recommended for anyone operating an electric bike in Snowmass. Accidents happen and can be serious.

MIND WHERE YOU RIDE

Electric bikes are only allowed on paved trails. They are not allowed on any singletrack dirt trails, the Snowmass Bike Park or any Aspen Skiing Co. work roads. Many trail easements already in place have strict language regarding motorized vehicles on singletrack trails. Operating an e-bike on a dirt singletrack trail puts these easements in jeopardy and could result in restricted trail access for all.

One-wheel skateboards and any other device with a motor are considered motorized vehicles and are prohibited from use on all trails, dirt or paved, within Snowmass Village.

FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE ROAD

Follow the same traffic laws you would while operating your vehicle. Please always travel at safe speeds. Announce yourselves when approaching other trail users, and always stay to your right while traveling uphill or downhill. Always move yourself and bicycles off to trail shoulders when taking a break.

Several Snowmass Village paved trails pass directly through congested neighborhoods. Please slow down in these areas and respect homeowners especially if they have young children playing on the paved trails.

Trail of the month: The Snowmass Village Paved Trail System

There are close to 10 miles of paved trails in Snowmass Village.

One of the most popular rides is the paved trail from Snowmass Village to Aspen. To follow this route, start on the Brush Creek Paved Trail, which begins on the west side of Lot 4.

Stay along the Brush Creek Trail until you get to the firehouse intersection crossing of Owl Creek Road. Just past the firehouse you will come to a fork in the trail; stay to your right at the chapel and begin on the Owl Creek Paved Trail.

The Owl Creek Paved Trail will cross Owl Creek Road at the Little Red School House. After crossing Owl Creek Road, stay left.

Remain on the Owl Creek Paved Trail until you pass the Tom Blake Trailhead on your left. Here, you will begin a steep climb up to Owl Creek Road.

Follow the Owl Creek Trail until you pass the airport runway and ride along the underpass of Highway 82. From here, follow the signs to Aspen and enjoy the ride!

Snowmass Village’s Parks, Open Space and Trails manager Brandon Hawksley in Town Park on Monday, June 14, 2021.
Kelsey Brunner/Snowmass Sun

Brandon Hawksley is the Parks, Open Space and Trails manager for the town of Snowmass Village. He writes the Snowmass Sun’s “Trail Talk” column, which runs on the third Wednesday of the month throughout the summer in the Snowmass Sun.


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