Hiking trails in the Phoenix Sonora Preserve and Mountain Parks bring a sense of calm with sights and sounds of nature. A place to get away from the noise of the city.
A new policy could cause e-bikes to buzz the trails.
The Phoenix Sonora Preserve and Mountain Parks / Preserve committee established the EMTB subcommittee to research and provide a recommendation on the use of e-bikes on the reserve and mountain park trails.
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At the September 20 meeting, the subcommittee did not make a decision, but requested that further research be done. A one-year study was recommended to collect information on the impact of natural resources on trails compared to non-motorized bikes, what class of e-bikes are used for trails, what behaviors e-bikes exhibit on the trails and how many or if rescues were performed on electric cyclists.
The subcommittee began its review and study of e-bikes in April with the goal of providing a recommended policy for the use of e-bikes.
A study by The NPD Group showed that from July 2020 to July 2021, e-bike sales increased by 240%.
An electric bicycle submitted for consideration by the subcommittee is defined as “a conventional bicycle with a rechargeable electric battery”. There are three categories of electric bikes being reviewed by the EMTB subcommittee.
Class 1 and Class 2 bikes contain an electric motor that reaches a top speed of 20 mph. The class 1 motor works only when pedaling; the class 2 engine operates without the rider needing to pedal using an accelerator.
Clair Miller, the EMTB subcommittee liaison, said a website and social media will be used to gather comments, concerns, recommendations and opinions from the public on e-bikes on the preserved trails .
Due to the time that a research study might take to begin, John Furniss, chair of the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve and Mountain Parks committee, suggested a time-saving alternative. Furniss said obtaining data and reports on e-bikes from other cities could be used as estimates for Phoenix.
The Arizona state legislature passed ASR 28-819, which allows electric bicycles the same use as bicycles in state parks. The ASR was passed on January 1, 2019. Reginal Park in Maricopa County began allowing the use of electric bicycles where bicycles are permitted on that same date.
The next meeting of the EMTB subcommittee will take place on November 15 at 6 p.m.