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Park City exploring e-bike speed limits, helmet requirements amid surge in riders

The mayor of Park City requested the discussion due to safety concerns.
Viacheslav_Muzyka/Mr. Music
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The mayor of Park City requested the discussion due to safety concerns.

A local spike in e-bike usage has the Park City Council looking for solutions to manage traffic on popular trails.

Park City and Snyderville Basin residents attended Tuesday’s Park City Council meeting to recommend solutions to make biking safer in the area.

The discussion was primarily focused on paved paths, not singletrack.

“Number one, establish a 15-mph speed limit for all bicycles on paved and gravel paths,” Snyderville Basin resident Jim Tedford said. “Number two, require bells or similar warning devices on all bicycles. Number three, establish a bike responsibility code similar to the skiers’ responsibility code and post it online and on signs.”

Other residents echoed those suggestions.

Ted Palomaki of Silver Springs told the council to leverage the enthusiasm for e-bikes as an alternative to cars. He said paved paths are crucial for transportation around the area, but added there should be established speed limits.

“I’ve read letters in the Park Record where people state that they fear for their lives while hiking next to an e-bike,” Palomaki said. “I’m sure that’s true for them. But I can tell you that’s not the same fear as riding on the shoulder of [state Route] 224 next to dump trucks, SUVs, and semis hauling at 55 mph, three feet from my shoulder. That’s fear. If you kick e-bikes off of the transportation trails, that’s about the only option between Main Street and Kimball Junction.”

Others said the city needs to add bike infrastructure to other roads to spread out bike traffic from the busy Poison Creek Trail and Rail Trail.

Another suggestion during public comment was a certificate program school-aged children would complete before they could ride e-bikes to school.

The city council appeared open to many of the suggestions. Councilmember Max Doilney urged the community to be patient and recognize the system will never be perfect.

“I think we’re at the forefront of what e-bikes are going to be,” Doilney said. “The concept that we’re going to be able to figure out a policy that’s going to be able to regulate these bikes for a long time, it’s going to be really difficult.”

Councilmember Ryan Dickey said speed limits make sense.

“I don’t know why we’d lower the speed limit to 20 mph on the road everywhere and not have a speed limit for bikes,” Dickey said. “It’s really dangerous, not so much to the rider, I think, as to the people they’re passing.”

Dickey referenced Steamboat Springs, Colorado, which recently passed an ordinance establishing a 15 mph speed limit on paved trails around town. That new law also includes a provision requiring helmets for anyone under 16 riding bikes of any kind.

Park City Councilmember Becca Gerber said she was interested in a possible helmet requirement for younger people.

The city plans to launch a new survey soon to gauge public opinion about e-bike regulations. Park City Mayor Nann Worel said they hope to have any new rules ready to implement in the spring once the snow melts.

The city council also requested to revisit the Rail Trail Master Plan, to investigate if the separation of walkers and bikers is feasible.