Summit County’s electric bike ordinance still has a few kinks
County Council considers ordinance similar to Park City’s to regulate program
March 14, 2017
As Summit County prepares to launch its electric bike-share program this summer, the Snyderville Basin Special Recreation District is suggesting the county impose an ordinance to regulate the use.
Earlier this month, the County Council considered approving a measure to regulate electric assisted bicycles on the trails around the county. According to a county staff report, electric bikes, which are growing in popularity, can travel at speeds around 20 miles per hour if the electric motor is used.
"While there have always been bikers that can peddle that fast, with the introduction of electric bikes, riders will be traveling at higher speeds and we just want to make sure the trails are safe for everyone," said Caroline Rodriguez, Summit County's transportation planning director. "We thought it prudent to have something in place as we prepare for our program."
Last year, the county was awarded a $500,000 from the Utah Transit Authority to establish a bike-share program between Park City and the Snyderville Basin. Rodriguez said the program is scheduled to launch in June.
Nearly 90 bikes will be docked at nine stations located in the Kimball Junction area, at Canyons Village at Park City Mountain Resort, Prospector Square and throughout Park City.
In 2014, Bob Radke, the recreation district's trails and open space manager, said he began working on creating an ordinance similar to the one Park City Municipal has to regulate electric bikes. He added, "It's just taken us some time to get to this point."
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"Park City was interested in having a whole trail system that was consistent and connected and we got on board and started down that path," Radke said. "When we went through this with our board, we agreed to go along with what our constituents had expressed in a survey we conducted.
"Our board's position is it is best to start out with a strong ordinance and then maybe scale back if we have to," he said. "It's better to do it that way than the other way around."
The proposed ordinance recognizes three classes of electric bicycles based on speed. It further restricts the use of those classes on certain pathways, such as single-track trails, and limits bike speed to 14.5 miles per hour.
"On the paved bike paths, I think that is a great place with them and can really benefit our community if we can get more people on them," Radke said. "But the speeds need to be kept in check. I think this would give us some teeth. I know it would be hard to regulate and enforce the speed limits, but at least we would have an ordinance to fall back on if we did have any issues.
"It is important to me that we are consistent with what the city does so we are not having confusion of where you could ride what and how fast," he said.
After a brief discussion, County Council members did not approve the ordinance because it is "currently more restrictive than we want to be." They suggested a joint meeting with the Park City Council.
"At the end of the day what we are trying to do here we are trying to provide a reasonable alternative for people to have non-motorized transportation for people around the Basin, but we have to put that into place within an existing system," Armstrong said. "Park City came up with an ordinance that is more restrictive than what we want to accomplish here. I think we need to talk with them about scaling it back."
Heinrich Deters, Park City's trails and open space program manager, said a conversation to reexamine the city's ordinance with the Park City Council will likely take place in April.
"The main point here is that we have two jurisdictions and we want to make sure there are no conflicts between our ordinances. A lot of our ordinances mirror one another and it's a pretty straightforward discussion we want to have."
To view the ordinance the county is considering, go to http://summitcounty.org/DocumentCenter/View/4604.
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