Council approves e-bikes, e-scooters for expanded use

Samantha Ye

Get multimodal, Fort Collins. The City will be expanding their transportation options this summer as Council finalized their approval of electric scooters with a dismount amendment and will allow e-bikes on paved recreational paths in a one-year pilot program on 

E-Scooters

Riders of e-scooters and other shared-mobility devices will have to dismount at all crosswalks regardless of if there are any dismount signs present.

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Council added this amendment to their previous approval of code changes for e-scooters.  

With the new code, e-scooters can only be ridden on sidewalks, as defined by state law, and must yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian. They must still be dismounted in regularly marked dismount zones.

Colorado State University will most likely adhere to these same rules, according to CSU’s alternative transportation manager Aaron Fodge, who previously told The Collegian that the University and City plan to work together.

These regulations open the way for the City, in partnership with CSU, to send out a request for proposals to select a single e-scooter vendor.

The company selected would have to adhere to additional regulations, including limiting scooter speeds to a maximum speed of 15 mph.

Staff said they will encourage helmet use with e-scooters and look at possibilities of providing helmets. The City will work with the vendor to provide expansive educational materials and outreach for safe electric scooting.

“The public outreach that we’ll be doing (is) not just educating people on the safety of these (e-scooters) but so the public knows ‘heads up, they’re coming,’” Councilmember Ray Martinez said. “Even the pedestrians have the obligation to pay attention, … to not be caught off guard.”

According to City staff, Fort Collins anticipates officially setting up the e-scooter share program in early summer or at least before students return to CSU in August.

E-Bikes

From May 1 to next April, e-bikes will be allowed on paved recreational paths around Fort Collins.

Electric bicycles are bikes with two or three wheels, fully operable pedals and an electric motor. City Code currently prohibits e-bikes with the motor running on a recreational trail unless the user has a temporary or permanent mobility disability.

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In a 6-1 vote, Council approved a one-year pilot program exemption from this ordinance to allow Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes on paved designated trails in Natural Areas and Recreation Areas.

Councilmember Ross Cunniff voted against, stating the program should start small and not include Class 2 e-bikes.

“One of my big concerns, to be honest, is the transitization of our recreational trail system, and by adding increasing numbers of motorized vehicles onto them actually plays into that,” Cunniff said.

Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes both only have motor assistance up to 20 mph as defined by Colorado state law in 2017. The sole difference is that Class 2 e-bikes do not require peddling to engage the assistance. (The average normal bike speed is about 12 mph but can hit 40 mph, according to City staff).

It does enable our community to use more of (biking), less cars.” – Ray Martinez, City Councilmember

Most local communities across the state now allow e-bikes on paved trails, according to Colorado Public Radio.

Martinez expressed support for the program, noting how e-bikes can help people like senior residents enjoy biking more easily.

“It does enable our community to use more of (biking), less cars,” Martinez said.

Data on e-bikes from other cities show minimal accidents, City staff said, but they will still be on the lookout for any safety issues that arise. Education about bike safety and etiquette will be critical to the program.

“It always comes down to the etiquette of the rider and the conditions whether it be the trail or the people or others on the trail,” Mayor Wade Troxell said. “Regardless of where this particular ordinance ends up, this analysis needs to…talk about type 1, type 2 and type 3 as it relates to reports of whatever happens during the pilot study.”

The pilot will include data collection the month before the program is enacted and during the 12-month period it runs. It will evaluate everything from decibel readings of potential e-bike noise to changes in congestion on trails to public perception of the bikes, and the data will inform future e-bike regulations.

It will cost an estimated $5,000 to $10,000, not including the costs of staff time, and will be covered through existing program budgets. 

e-bike Class 

Definition by State law

Allowed in Pilot Program?

Class 1

Motor provides electrical assistance only while the rider is pedaling; motor stops when rider reaches 20 mph

Yes

Class 2

Motor provides assistance regardless of whether the rider is pedaling; motor stops when rider reaches 20 mph

Yes

Class 3

Motor provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling; motor stops when rider reaches 28 mph

Class 3 e-bikes include age restrictions and require the use of helmets for minors

No

Other Council Topics

Council approved the second reading of the wood burning regulations. The ordinances decriminalize air pollution nuisances which makes them easier to fine, requires all fires to have a 15-foot property line setback and maintain a 10 p.m. curfew. This is reversal from the previous council session, where the setback was made as 25-feet.

Regulation will be complaint-driven, meaning someone has to file a smoke complaint for anything to happen.

First-time violators will receive educational materials and opportunities to correct before facing any fines.

Several council members noted the negative community feedback they had received or seen since the first meeting but disagreed the ordinance was unnecessary. Councilmember Gerry Horak said it was a more effective negotiation tool for those who are disturbed by the smoke besides just saying “please.”

“The voluntary system hasn’t worked because we wouldn’t be dealing with this if it had worked,” Horak said. “…As I hear it, the next year is solely going to be education unless you’re a freaking jerk.”

Samantha Ye can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @samxye4.