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Park City Council approves new e-mountain bike trail in split vote

Close up of battery of an E-Mountainbike
Sebastian Rothe/mmphoto - stock.adobe.com
The new trail will run from Snow Park to Deer Valley's new East Village base in Wasatch County.

Park City is adding a trail in Snow Park for e-mountain bikers.

E-mountain bikes are currently banned on Park City singletrack, unless riders are 65 and older, or have a mobility disability.

Clark Ranch near U.S. Highway 40, which has around 5 miles of trails, is the only area in city limits where people can use a class I e-mountain bike outside of those restrictions.

To cater to the growing popularity, a majority of the Park City Council moved Friday to create a new e-mountain bike trail that will start in Snow Park and connect over to Deer Valley’s new East Village base in Wasatch County. Park City Trails and Open Space Manager Heinrich Deters said they worked with Deer Valley Resort to create the route on private land.

Mountain Trails Foundation Executive Director Lora Anthony expressed concerns about e-mountain bike use spreading to the broader Park City trail network. She said East Village will have 50 miles of e-mountain bike friendly trails that the city should direct people to use.

“That’s actually going to connect to the rest of the Wasatch County trail system through the state park, which then turns that 50 miles into 500,” Anthony said. “To say that there’s a shortage of e-bike friendly terrain in our neck of the woods, it’s just not true.”

Snyderville Basin resident Ryan Goff works as an engineer in the bike industry. During public comment, Goff told the council e-mountain bikes are only going to continue to grow.

“I’ve watched e-mountain bikes go from quite honestly sort of a mad scientist sideshow to not just mainstream, but within our brand of business - priority,” Goff said. “Even starting to outsell their equivalent acoustic classic mountain bikes. Yes today the share of riders on these is small, but that’s changing and it’s changing quickly.”

However, other area residents expressed worries about increased crowding on trails and dangers presented by e-mountain bikes.

Councilmember Jeremy Rubell, who was supportive of trying the new trail, said the city may need to evolve.

“I am a little bit concerned about falling behind a technology, and limiting our user classes, and I’m just as concerned about slamming in a technology that we don’t quite understand,” Rubell said. “So what’s the balance? And this feels like actually a pretty good balance to me.”

Councilmembers Ed Parigian and Bill Ciraco were also in favor of the pilot project.

Councilmember Ryan Dickey was ardently against the proposal and said it creates a slippery slope.

“When I look at trails holistically, instead of thinking about e-bikes, and ask the question, do I want to add an entirely new user group that’s potentially much larger than the analog mountain biking community to our existing trails? I think our trail users say no, there’s no purpose to that,” Dickey said. “And so I don’t feel like I need to go test that.”

Councilmember Tana Toly was also against the measure, citing safety concerns for hikers and trail runners.

It’s unclear when the new e-mountain bike trail will be ready for riders.