The proposal to allow e-bikes on local trails is raising a red flag for some environmentalists who are concerned the move will harm wildlife and their habitats by rolling over paved and unpaved trails causing erosion, vibrations and noise.
Locally, e-bikes are allowed on eight of the East Bay Regional Park District’ (EBRPD) paved trails, where they must adhere to a 15-mph speed limit set for all bicycles, both electric and conventional. The EBRPD board is looking into expanding the use of e-bikes in the district to include unpaved trails.
While The Independent supports the goal to encourage more eco-friendly transportation methods, e-bikes used recreationally on unpaved trails would not be very friendly to our environment.
Some are against their use off-road for safety issues, as well as wildlife endangerment and the destruction of habitats. Others don’t see a lot of difference between bicycles and their powered counterparts.
Jim O’Connor, EBRPD’s deputy general manager, said the most important concern for the park district is the behavior of riders, whether they are on an e-bike or conventional bicycle. He said speeding and out of control riding will be addressed by the park’s police department.
However, Jason Kahn, president of The Rewilding Institute, cited habitat destruction and animal endangerment or isolation – due to fear of crossing trails – as noteworthy concerns. He also pointed out that since e-bikes can go faster, they can also go farther, meaning more open space is impacted.
It seems prudent and appropriate for regulations to be put in place safeguarding the environment and wildlife while protecting the safety of the public as well. We strongly urge the EBRPD to keep e-bikes on paved trails only.