Town of Vail adjusts e-bike rules to align with Colorado’s laws regulating them
February 8, 2018
VAIL — The nation is divided in more ways than one.
When Colorado revised its laws regarding electric-assist bikes during 2017, 25 states in the U.S. considered e-bikes to be regular old bicycles, while 25 states regulated them as mopeds, motor-driven cycles, or motorized bicycles.
A new ordinance in Vail will align the town with Colorado's regulations.
The state now sees e-bikes as three different types of vehicles — e-bike Class I is for a pedal assist and provides electrical assistance up to 20 mph; e-bike Class II provides electrical power when the rider is pedaling or not and stops giving power when the e-bike reaches the speed of 20 mph; and e-bike Class III provides electrical power up to 28 mph.
House Bill 17-1151 went into effect in in August of 2017 and said category I and II e-bikes can be ridden on a bike, pedestrian or multi-use paths, while Class III cycles can only be ridden on public roads.
While local towns can regulate at their own level, Vail town staff would prefer to align with the state laws with respect to where e-bikes can be ridden in town, project manager Gregg Barrie told the town council Tuesday, Feb. 6.
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"We really did just try to attempt to stick with the state law just for consistency, the idea that we would try to create our own classes, then it gets even more confusing," he said.
Tuesday’s meeting was to ensure the town was O.K. with the language of the ordinance; it is expected to be brought before the town council on Feb. 20.
NO PEDAL, NO PROBLEM
Following the state's regulations means e-bikes that aren't necessarily pedal-assisted (those with motorcycle-style throttles) will be allowed on pathways in town including the Gore Valley Trail and the North Recreation Path, as long as the motors in those bikes don’t assist them at speeds faster than 20 mph.
Mayor Dave Chapin asked how a person can tell the difference between a Class I, Class II or Class III e-bike.
"It's a good question," Barrie said. "I've actually been wondering if the state is going to require manufacturers to label them as one, two, three."
Barrie said for now, the class designation will be most applicable to those renting out e-bikes in town.
"If they're renting out a Class III bike, then they need to let people know they're not allowed on town bike paths," Barrie said. "Enforcement is the other end of this; we're not necessarily going to have folks out on the bike trails, stopping people and asking what class their bike is. We're just trying to keep some consistency with what's going on around us."
E-bikes will not be allowed on soft surface trails, or at the Vail Nature Center; Betty Ford Alpine Gardens; Village Streamwalk (north of Gore Creek between the covered bridge and Ford Park; children's playground; turf area or soft-surface trails, natural/unimproved areas or sidewalks that are not part of a designated bicycle and pedestrian path.
The language in the e-bike ordinance also applies to Segway-type electric scooters, which will be allowed to be rented out to tour groups of 10 or less by a licensed operator with a tour guide. Only one company in town currently operates a tour business.
This story was edited on Feb. 9, 2018, to correct the status of the ordinance – it has not yet passed and is expected to be brought before the council on Feb. 20.