E-bike mayhem in Aspen
August 3, 2017
The annual soup de jour is escalating to a fevered pitch by the press pot-stirring and conjuring up fear and loathing.
Last year it was paddleboards and rubber duckies on Stillwater. This year e-bikes, the end of civilization as we know it destroying the peace, fragile mountain terrain, tranquility and most of all safety of citizens and tourists alike.
Never let a summer go by without creating a problem where none exists. Pedal-assist e-bikes do not cause any more damage to trails than a regular bicycle. The weight is comparable to most downhill mountain bikes as witnessed by the monster downhill machines embraced by Snowmass on its downhill courses and at last weekend's endure races.
I suggest consideration be given to banning those and high-speed descents from Sky Mountain Parks, which have resulted in numerous collisions and near collisions. Just like regular pedal bikes, e-bikes are quiet. Any motor noise is imperceptible to all except those with the most sensitive ears.
The notion that e-bikes race around at a constant 20 mph is misplaced. Bicycles can go fast downhill and easily over 20 mph, whether an e-bike or not. Responsibility for control of any type of bicycle is with the rider, not the bike.
Pedal-assist bicycles are not powered at greater than 20 mph. Going uphill on a bike, whether pedal-assisted or not, is not achievable at a high rate of speed, except by a very few elite riders.
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Long story short, I suggest that the Board of County Commisioners, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, Snowmass Town Council, etc., stop wasting time and resources over imagined scenarios of mayhem, chaos and catastrophes and get with the program.
E-bikes are here and here to stay. I suggest that public officials gain understanding with demonstrations and understanding of the functioning pedal assisted e-bikes. I am certain any of the local bike shops which sell them or e-bike manufacturers would be more than happy to provide comprehensive demonstrations.
I speak in this letter only of e-bikes without throttles. Those with throttles allow a rider to operate without pedaling. E-bikes with throttles truly are motorized vehicles and should be permitted only on streets and highways.
I speak only with the experience of having pedaled a few miles on bicycles, both with and without pedal assist. I leave it to the pedants, of which there are many here in Fat City, for further ped-antics on the subject. I close this letter with a stanza from the Queen song "Bicycle Race" — "I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike, I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride it where I like" (emphasis added).
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