As gas prices rise and the weather warms, you may hear the phrase â€œon your leftâ€ mixed with a power-drill-like buzz the next time you are passed on one of Fort Collinsâ€™ local trails.
City leaders are considering measures to change local ordinances that prevent electric-assist bicycles on Fort Collinsâ€™ multi-use paths including the popular Spring Creek and Poudre Trails.
â€œIt is picking up momentum,â€ said Fort Collins Director of Park Planning Craig Foreman.
These bikes generally combine standard pedal-bicycles with a low-power motor, assisting users as needed while still allowing for traditional riding.
Comments and concerns from groups across the city are being compiled for a council work session on June 28. At that time, all views of the issue will be considered, putting the city leaders one step closer to a decision, according to Marty Heffernan, director of Cultural, Library & Recreational Services.
â€œWe are on the forefront of the issue,â€ Heffernan said, noting that not a lot of outside research is available regarding e-bikes.
Supporters have been fighting for e-bikes for years and, under Colorado law, each city is permitted to make its own decision regarding e-bikes on public trails.
More than a dozen supporters attended the May 17 City Council meeting and stated their case during the public comment section.
Josh Kerson, the manager of Small Planet E-Vehicles, said e-bikes are being used by the elderly for â€œsocial recreationâ€ and can create opportunities for groups that normally cannot enjoy Fort Collinsâ€™ trails.
Allowing these bikes on city multi-use paths gives disabled groups and the elderly a chance to â€œresume exercise habits and use bicycles in a more utilitarian way,â€ he said.
If allowed on trails, e-bikes would allow easy access across town for work, school or leisure across all age groups â€“â€“ all without sharing the lane with speeding cars, supporters said.
â€œI saw an 11-year-old girl shopping for an e-bike recently,â€ Kerson said. â€œShe said she never wanted to have to buy a car.â€
Concerns include the environmental impact, safety and the amount of noise generated by the motors â€“â€“ often compared to a hand-held power drill.
CSU students appear indifferent and unaffected by the potential change, as long as rules are followed.
â€œIt gets people on bikes. If they follow speed limits and the right-of-way, I donâ€™t foresee any problems,â€ said Scott Hendrick, a senior construction management major and CSU cyclist.
The June 14 City Council meeting will likely hear more testimony in support of e-bikes, and Kerson is planning demonstrations for additional boards and commissions. In the meetings following the June 28 work-session, a highly anticipated decision is likely.
â€œWe are really hoping Fort Collins holds their word and makes the right decision,â€ Kerson said.
Staff writer Jason Pohl can be reached at email@example.com.
Whatâ€™s up next?
Will E-bikes be permitted on Fort Collinsâ€™ trails?
Follow City Councilâ€™s decision this July.