E-bikes On Natural Trails? Park City Council Looks At Options

Aug 14, 2019

Credit CLAIRE WILEY FOR PCMC

The Park City Council will discuss the possibility of allowing electric bikes on natural trails during their council work session Thursday. 

Currently, e-bikes are only permitted on paved surfaces, not on soft-surface trails. Park City Manager Diane Foster says this is an evolving conversation in the Park City community and elsewhere.

“There are many communities around the West, and Trails and Open Space and Property Manager Heinrich Deters has been talking to communities like Boulder, Colorado, who are also looking at this space," Foster said. "The state legislature has also, a couple times, talked about coming in and just deciding how they want to regulate it, so we believe, and many legislators are very supportive, including our local legislators, in local control. This is a start of a discussion.”

Recent letters-to-the-editor and comments on social media indicate heightened concerns around trail courtesy and etiquette. Foster says that’s something to consider in the discussion around e-bikes.

“There has been a sentiment of maybe the trails are too crowded right now, and so adding e-bikes, would that add a population," Foster said. "I think folks always worry about are we going to invite folks from outside the community, other than our visitors, to get on the trail, and basically have an influx from Salt Lake of e-bike users who may not be familiar with some of the terrain around here.”

The staff report for the agenda shows the city has received feedback from community members with mobility disabilities or other circumstances where they’re better equipped to utilize the trails system by e-bike.

“I had a conversation at a coffee shop with a person who has severe asthma and loves to mountain bike but isn't going to be able to access certain trails with that disability," Foster said. "I think we've heard a lot from a lot of different members of the community. We've even had public input from a gentleman in our community, I believe he was about 85 at the time, who talked about just not physically being able to tackle the same trails and wanting to have access to that as well.”

Foster says there are some options to consider addressing e-bike use on trails, such as implementing a permit system or a pilot program on trails that are capable of handling e-bike traffic. The first step staff wants to take to address this topic, though, is to conduct a community survey, which is what the council will provide direction on this Thursday at 4 p.m.