Eagle encourages mindfulness among e-bike users | VailDaily.com

Eagle encourages mindfulness among e-bike users

Tom Fiorentino of Edwards rides on his purchased QuietKat e-bike in 2020. The bike makes it practical for him to go to work up a significant hill without getting exhausted, and run errands without a car.
Steve Peterson/Special to The Colorado Sun

The popularity of e-bikes is surging and with that surge comes an increased concern over safety. As e-bikes become more common in Eagle and its surrounding areas, town leaders encourage users to be mindful when upgrading to an e-bike and while riding them. 

According to a town of Eagle media release, town leaders encourage cyclists to “prioritize safety first when considering upgrading to an e-bike.” 

E-bikes are described as a vehicle with two or three wheels with fully operatable pedals and an electric motor not exceeding 750 watts of power. Their increased popularity can be attributed to a shift in mindset toward a more environmentally-conscious mode of transportation, according to an e-bike market report made by Revi Bikes. Alongside commuters, e-bikes grew in popularity among recreators and fitness fanatics. 

Additionally, with this elevated popularity, Vail and Avon—alongside other municipalities—have incentivized e-bike purchases with new rebates. The town of Avon originally began its e-bike rebate program in 2022, offering $200 rebates to residents who purchased e-bikes. 

With the town’s updated rebate program, Avon residents can receive up to $400 in rebates for their e-bike purchases. The town of Vail is readying for its e-bike rebate program—set to begin in May. With the town of Vail’s program, residents will receive rebates based on income tiers

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Holy Cross Energy account holders are also able to apply for a $50 rebate for new e-bike purchases with the intention of using the bike for running errands and commuting to work. 

In addition, e-bikes will be making more of a presence locally due to additional initiatives. Namely, the town of Vail is set to distribute eight QuietKat Villager e-bikes bikes to qualifying essential workers this summer, continuing the E-Bikes for Essentials program, which began in 2021. Also, e-bike share network, Shift Bike, is returning to the valley this spring, with a larger fleet of e-bikes between Vail, Edwards, Avon and EagleVail. 

In June 2022, Vail, EagleVail and Avon launched a regional e-bike share program. And now, in 2023, it’s returning with new participation from Edwards and Eagle County as well.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

While this influx of e-bikes in Eagle County encourages use of an energy-efficient means of transportation, the town of Eagle advises residents to be mindful of e-bike dangers before hopping on the craze. 

Colorado e-bikes fall into one of three distinct classes as of 2018, the town of Eagle media release noted, and each class holds unique regulations. The classes are determined by the type of motor assistance the e-bike uses and the maximum speed it reaches.

“Understanding these laws is essential for all e-bike riders to ensure safe travel on roadways, pathways, sidewalks and trails,” the release read. “Riders must identify the class their e-bike falls under and adhere to the specific regulations for that class to prevent accidents and enjoy a safe riding experience.”

The classes of e-bikes are categorized as follows:

  • Class one e-bikes provide motor assistance to the rider only while the rider works the pedals. The motor stops operating at a maximum speed of 20 mph. 
  • Class two e-bikes provide motor assistance at all times, even if the rider ceases pedaling. The motor stops operating at a speed of 20 mph.
  • Class three e-bikes provide motor assistance to the rider only when the rider pedals. The motor stops operating at a speed of 28 mph. By law, class three electric bikes must have speedometers. 

Understanding what class one’s e-bike falls under also helps a rider determine where they are permitted to use the e-bike. “Class one e-bikes are typically allowed on paved pathways and sidewalks, but class two and three are not,” the media release detailed.

So, those who ride class two and three e-bikes are required to ride on the street and must adhere to traffic laws while riding on the street. E-bike users are not exempt from adhering to traffic signs, signals and yielding. 

The release reminded e-bike users that within the town of Eagle and its surrounding Bureau of Land Management lands, e-bikes within any class are prohibited on non-motorized dirt trails. 

“Before riding on any road, pathway or trail, it is essential to research the laws specific to the State of Colorado and the town of Eagle,” the media release read. 

The popular QuietKat electric bicycle firm started in Eagle and was eventually acquired by Vista Outdoors as the popularity of e-bikes continues to grow.
QuietKat/Special to the Daily

Whether in Eagle or elsewhere, town code sections often address motorized and e-bike use in open spaces. Additionally, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website details that on Colorado Parks and Wildlife land, class one and two e-bikes are allowed in the same areas road bikes and mountain bikes are permitted access. On Colorado Parks and Wildlife land, class three e-bikes are only permitted on roadways and in designated bike lanes. 

On State Park lands, class one, two and three e-bikes are permitted on roadways and in designated bike lanes. However, only class one and two e-bikes are allowed on multi-use trails. The Colorado Parkes and Wildlife site noted that in other areas that are open to non-motorized biking, such as campgrounds, class one and two e-bikes are also allowed. 

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife website also outlines e-bike accessibility by class in State Wildlife Areas and State Trust Lands. For regulations and classifications of e-bike use on other public lands, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife site suggests users contact land agencies—like the U.S. Forest Service or a local municipality—individually, as management approaches vary between supervising agencies. 

Finally, once e-bike users have determined where it is safe and permitted for their classification of e-bike to ride, users are encouraged to execute certain best practices to ensure safety even further. 

While safety concerns arise from thermal runaway in lithium-ion batteries— which are commonly used in e-bikes— there are other safety measures town of Eagle leaders encourage e-bike users to practice.

Safety tips for e-bike users:

  • Wear a helmet to minimize the risk of head injuries in accidents.
  • Know the type of bike you have and where you are permitted to ride. 
  • Practice good trail and road etiquette. On trails and pathways, e-bikes and bikes always yield to pedestrians and equestrians. Downhill users yield to uphill users and communication is key. On roads, bikes must obey traffic laws that apply to them. 
  • Plan your route and research details like elevation, length and opening times.
  • Pick the right bike for the terrain you plan to ride on. 

“The regulations for e-bikes are in place for the safety of all cyclists, pedestrians and drivers,” the release reads. “The Eagle Town Council encourages all e-bike riders to employ mindfulness, prioritize safety first and follow the rules of the roadways, pathways, sidewalks, open spaces and trails.”

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