Concerned with the bad reputation e-bikes have been getting in the Lewes area, Lenny Richardson, manager of Pedego Bikes, submitted a letter to the city’s bicycle and pedestrian committee to clarify the practicality of his product.
Richardson, who only sells Class 1 and 2 e-bikes that top out at 15 and 18 mph, respectively, explained that people who thought their bicycling days were over now have a chance to ride again. In his letter, he says that many of his customers have medical complications that would prevent them from using a manual bike, but now they can be assisted when they experience pain or fatigue while riding. According to Richardson, several of his customers do not use the electric feature until it is absolutely necessary.
In the letter, Richardson said many of the bicycles observed going the fastest on the trails are often the non-electric performance bikes ridden by competitive riders, exceeding the speeds e-bikes are capped at. Richardson thinks education about proper bike trail etiquette to e-bike riders, traditional bike riders, dog walkers, runners and people simply enjoying the trail is the solution. The bike shop manager said he believes it is a good thing more people are outdoors getting exercise and that the situation can be improved, not segregated.
Chip Davis, the committee member who initially brought up e-bikes on the trails, agreed with Richardson, clarifying he is a proponent of education, not prohibition. Pedego Bikes educates its customers about proper use and safety when using public trails. Davis said there have been no steps taken by the committee in either direction regarding e-bikes.
Committee member John McGovern said the comments attributed to him about e-bikes were taken out of context.
“The original discussion was about speed limits on the trail for everybody, not just e-bikes, and was there a posted speed limit or not? We are not singling out electric bikes,” McGovern said.
McGovern said that as long as the e-bikes are abiding by the state laws, then he has no problem with them being on the trails. E-bikes sold at Pedego fall under the posted speed limits, but Class 3 bikes, which can reach up to 28 mph, begin to exceed the thresholds. McGovern thinks it’s a good idea to ensure the bike safety pamphlet distributed by the committee, which contains etiquette guidelines, is placed in local bike stores.
Local resident Bob Mosher, who is an avid biker, complimented the Lewes bike trails, but felt there needs to be more education about proper use. As an e-bike rider, he said, he keeps his speeds about 12-15 mph and sticks to the right. Mosher also believes helmets should be worn no matter the age of the rider, and safety and courtesy should be discussed.
“I see a lot of kids out there, older folks too, that don’t seem to know the rules of the road; stop for stop signs. I mean it’s not a car, but darn it’s a bike and it could cause a lot of trouble for the rider,” Mosher said.
Originally from Detroit, Mich., and having lived in Arlington, Va., for a period of time, Mosher said he believes the Lewes trails are superior and thinks an educational push would further solidify the enjoyment of the bike trails for everyone.
The committee will add an insert to the bike trail maps for the summer season that contains bike safety tips and trail etiquette guidelines in addition to a strategically displayed QR code, which will give the user access to the map and information contained in the pamphlet via their smartphone.