Trail etiquette, not e-bikes, is real issue

February 18, 2022

With the popularity of electric bikes surging, officials who maintain and monitor our trail network are facing a dilemma: Should this new form of transportation share the same trails as traditional cyclists and pedestrians?

The answer, we believe, is yes. An outright ban on e-bikes is not the route to take. The majority of e-bikes present no more danger than other types of bicycles, and enforcing a speed limit on the trails would be next to impossible.

The ideal solution to the problem would be minimal government involvement, and instead better use of proper trail etiquette by riders and pedestrians. Several letter writers to this newspaper have pointed out that e-bikes are not the problem; they claim trail etiquette is the real problem. In a perfect world, all trail users would follow the rules, and cyclists would maintain safe speeds and alert others before they pass. But clearly, that’s not happening, and nobody has come up with a workable way to enforce trail etiquette and personal responsibility.

While we wait for that perfect world, e-bike technology progresses and people are beginning to use their new holiday gifts as the weather warms, which means the trails are only going to get busier. With that in mind, there must be rules to regulate bikes that are becoming more akin to motorbikes.

A good start on the matter would be action at the state level on House Bill 119, which has been dormant since April 2021. The bill defines e-bikes, and places their regulation in the hands of local authorities and state agencies. The legislation notes that e-bikes can be ridden anywhere bicycles are allowed, including bike lanes and multi-use trails. The bill would also allow the prohibition of e-bikes within local jurisdictions, if the authority finds the restriction is necessary for safety reasons.

Again, we don’t think prohibition is the solution. A balance between providing local jurisdictions the ability to enforce basic rules and encouraging proper trail etiquette is the answer.


  • Editorials are considered and written by Cape Gazette Editorial Board members, including Publisher Chris Rausch, Editor Jen Ellingsworth, News Editor Nick Roth and reporters Ron MacArthur and Chris Flood. 

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