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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
While riding my eMTB yesterday, I passed by a trail that had a new "no e-bikes" sign attached to the trail marker that's been there for decades. It looked to have been installed by a private party, not the forest service, and it got me wondering what the end game will be in this struggle for access.

Will funding for enforcement suddenly materialize, causing ebikers to avoid these trails? Not likely.
Will ebikers with severely limited access in many areas stay off trails like these? Not likely.
Will land managers close these trails to all bikes because they don't have the resources for enforcement, and have a hard time differentiating between E and analog, or navigating the laws surrounding use for disabled riders? Maybe.

It seems to me that if analog riders want to retain access to their present trail systems, and maybe even have their trails systems expanded, they should be advocating for class 1 eMTB's to be treated the same as analog bikes. We can debate all day about the semantics of what an eMTB is or isn't, but from a thirty thousand foot view, they're virtually identical, and should be treated as such.
 

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There are more mountain bikers than ever.

Seems to me the access relationship is between what hikers and horse peoples perceive as mountain bikers. I don't think it takes more than two brain cells to rub together to realize e-bikes are no help in that matter.

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Disgruntled Peccary
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Unfortunately, perception is ultimately reality.
 

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What causing issue in my neck of the woods is e-bikers with zero trail etiquette. Also some of the guys are hacking the e-bikes and getting 25-30 mph thru trails built for pedal bikes. If you actually care about riding your e-bike on trails you are representing a group so remember that when you blast past some old geezer on a mtb.
 

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Candlestick Maker
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I can't predict how it's going to play out. My wise advice is: "Don't be a dick!" To all those involved...

My position on e-bikes has evolved (or devolved depending on your point of view)... I think they can coexist with other trail users, but the few bad apples will draw unwanted attention to trail access issues (just like the bad apple mountain bikers and equestrians). We don't sign our trails with no e-bikes, despite the fact that that is the current status.

 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
What causing issue in my neck of the woods is e-bikers with zero trail etiquette. Also some of the guys are hacking the e-bikes and getting 25-30 mph thru trails built for pedal bikes. If you actually care about riding your e-bike on trails you are representing a group so remember that when you blast past some old geezer on a mtb.
That's interesting, because in my area eMTBers seem to be exceptionally friendly and yielding to other users, and personally I find other trail users surprised by the fact that I slow down or stop and say hello. It's the strava crown seeking enduro bros who are the primary problem. I've actually had a couple of them run into me (while riding my analog bike). To a large extent age seems to play a bigger role than bike, and ebikers tend to skew older, slower, and more respectful.

The whole "hacking the bike to go faster" thing just doesn't exist here. Maybe on flat lands, but on trails with any elevation gain, I don't find eMTB's even remotely approaching the governor on climbs, and analog are almost always faster on the downhills. And really, on any trail more difficult than a "rail to trail" or city bike path, the speed is going to be limited by the trail's technical nature long before reaching governed speeds, or allowing somebody to exceed them with a hack.
 

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Individuals slapping No E-Bike stickers on signs just creates apathy and a legitimate excuse to claim ignorance / confusion around actual access. So yes, using these stickers in this way isn't helping their cause.

_CJ's post above brings up some of the common sense aspects and reality of the ebike discussion. In essence though, all testimonies given here are anecdotal evidence aka not worth anything honestly, and that is pro or against. The actual studies show ebikes have similar impacts as regular bikes, similar perception from OTHER user groups (e.g. hikers, equestrians, dog walkers), roughly travel the same and potentially SLOWER than regular cyclists, etc.

Oh you want a reference? I was hoping you'd ask that :) Below was a good read but it's a little long for the average attention span. The Executive Summary is on pages 1-2, and the Conclusions Chapter 8 starts on page 77 for those who just want the TLDR answer. The Works Cited section is one of the best reference list around for understanding what studies have actually been performed to date to come to a more recent conclusion of impact (IMBA study and survey was in 2016):

 

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While riding my MTB yesterday, I passed by a hiking trail that had a new "no bikes" sign attached to the trail marker that's been there for decades. It looked to have been installed by a private party, not the forest service, and it got me wondering what the end game will be in this struggle for access.

Will funding for enforcement suddenly materialize, causing bikers to avoid these trails? Not likely.
Will bikers with severely limited access in many areas stay off trails like these? Not likely.
Will land managers close these trails to all users because they don't have the resources for enforcement, and have a hard time differentiating between bike and hiker, or navigating the laws surrounding use for all users? Maybe.

It seems to me that if hikes want to retain access to their present trail systems, and maybe even have their trails systems expanded, they should be advocating for MTB's to be treated the same as hikers. We can debate all day about the semantics of what an MTB is or isn't, but from a thirty thousand foot view, they're virtually identical, and should be treated as such.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I can't predict how it's going to play out. My wise advice is: "Don't be a dick!"
Here's a thought.....what if, some ebikers see the actions of the anti crowd as "being dicks"? And, they ride as outlaws with little regard for anyone else, because that's the position they been forced into? If they were accepted into the community, and treated with respect, maybe they'd be more inclined to treat other trail users with respect.


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The actual studies show ebikes have similar impacts as regular bikes, similar perception from OTHER user groups (e.g. hikers, equestrians, dog walkers), roughly travel the same and potentially SLOWER than regular cyclists, etc.


Many ebikes owners on this site say one of their main benefits is that they can get twice the runs in the same time as they otherwise could on an "analog" bike, which doesn't jibe with that study.
 

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That's interesting, because in my area eMTBers seem to be exceptionally friendly and yielding to other users, and personally I find other trail users surprised by the fact that I slow down or stop and say hello. It's the strava crown seeking enduro bros who are the primary problem. I've actually had a couple of them run into me (while riding my analog bike). To a large extent age seems to play a bigger role than bike, and ebikers tend to skew older, slower, and more respectful.

The whole "hacking the bike to go faster" thing just doesn't exist here. Maybe on flat lands, but on trails with any elevation gain, I don't find eMTB's even remotely approaching the governor on climbs, and analog are almost always faster on the downhills. And really, on any trail more difficult than a "rail to trail" or city bike path, the speed is going to be limited by the trail's technical nature long before reaching governed speeds, or allowing somebody to exceed them with a hack.
I am on The board of a trail organization and some of our members are e-bikers and they represent their group well. We get yahoo's who want to go fast and consider e-bikes dirt bikes with pedals. I have found myself defusing too many situations between land managers e-bikers and xc riders. Xc "Strava" riders have grown to live and live with e-bikes but some new kid finally can keep up with the fast crew and starts showing their rump. Yes some xc riders think they are getting a paycheck to ride fast and rude but people with zero experience going 20+mph worry me more.
 

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Here's a thought.....what if, some ebikers see the actions of the anti crowd as "being dicks"? And, they ride as outlaws with little regard for anyone else, because that's the position they been forced into? If they were accepted into the community, and treated with respect, maybe they'd be more inclined to treat other trail users with respect.


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But if a land manager decided e-bikers are not welcome be it for any reason. They manage the land so ignoring rules gives e-bikers a bad name. We worked hard with some patient people to change the opinions of the land manager so enforcement officers wouldn't be called. Trail building is an advocate based thing and so should e-bikers working to change the minds of the land managers to come to a better agreement. I understand your frustrations.
To clarify we worked hard to Legally allow e-bikes on our trail system it was hard.
 

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While riding my eMTB yesterday, I passed by a trail that had a new "no e-bikes" sign attached to the trail marker that's been there for decades. It looked to have been installed by a private party, not the forest service, and it got me wondering what the end game will be in this struggle for access.

Will funding for enforcement suddenly materialize, causing ebikers to avoid these trails? Not likely.
Will ebikers with severely limited access in many areas stay off trails like these? Not likely.
Will land managers close these trails to all bikes because they don't have the resources for enforcement, and have a hard time differentiating between E and analog, or navigating the laws surrounding use for disabled riders? Maybe.

It seems to me that if analog riders want to retain access to their present trail systems, and maybe even have their trails systems expanded, they should be advocating for class 1 eMTB's to be treated the same as analog bikes. We can debate all day about the semantics of what an eMTB is or isn't, but from a thirty thousand foot view, they're virtually identical, and should be treated as such.
A. Does the trail allow legitimate access for ebikers?
B. Does it allow legitimate access for MTB?

If the answer is "Yes" to B. and "No" to A, then the ebikers are non-compliant and risking future trail access for MTB. It would seem the purpose of this sign is to mitigate this risk.
 

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people with zero experience going 20+mph worry me more.
This has been my experience in the field as well. E-bikes give inexperienced people with zero exposure to etiquette access to what they typically would not be able to access or even interested in accessing.

One thing I've specifically experienced are said e-bikers riding up trails that you couldn't possibly ride up on a non-motorized bike. Trails that have long been downhill specific. I'm seeing this more and more at mountain bike specific trail destinations.

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My position on e-bikes has evolved (or devolved depending on your point of view)... I think they can coexist with other trail users
Mine has evolved the opposite direction. I used to be in the "co-exist" crowd. I used to ride with a group that had/has eBike riders. And I used to advocate for them (especially in that one riders case). But the more experience I have with other eBike riders, the more I hate them. Watching my female pro XC rider get knocked off her bike by a rider at a bike park on a section of trail labeled "no passing" was a bit of the final straw.
 

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Honestly I think that segregation works great when it comes to trail use. Men here, women there, whites here... JUST KIDDING! I mean that separating groups by mode of transport seems to keep people happier. Bikes get their own trails, equestrians their own, hikers their own, etc. We have some of that here and it seems to help. One argument against segregation is that a user group might lose some trails that they've had and enjoyed for years, so that would be a minus. In places where primitive style trails are popular (The Colorado Trail comes to mind) then it would probably meet with a lot of resistance. However, a trail network purpose built for biking (Galbraith and Sandy Ridge come to mind) is really fun and you don't have to worry about running into a horse around a corner. I'm not sure how to reconcile ebike v. mtb use everywhere but the aforementioned trail networks have climbing lines and one-way descents so it seems to mesh pretty well. They definitely have a bike park feel rather than a backcountry feel though. Tricky problem.
 

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This has been my experience in the field as well. E-bikes give inexperienced people with zero exposure to etiquette access to what they typically would not be able to access or even interested in accessing.

One thing I've specifically experienced are said e-bikers riding up trails that you couldn't possibly ride up on a non-motorized bike. Trails that have long been downhill specific. I'm seeing this more and more at mountain bike specific trail destinations.

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Oh man, I've encountered more people (not just ebikes) going the wrong way on designated one-way trails over the last year or two. It's scary. I'm blasting full-tilt on a DH-only section and suddenly there's some nitwit going UP in order to redo a section or whatever. This happened not only on the local trails but also at the freaking lift-served bike park a few times this summer!
 

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Many ebikes owners on this site say one of their main benefits is that they can get twice the runs in the same time as they otherwise could on an "analog" bike, which doesn't jibe with that study.
What people say (in a forum where they are often forced to defend against accusations of laziness and where being “hardcore” is still regarded as a virtue) vs. what they do in reality can be very different things.

Where I am, the observation is in line with _CJ’s (as little as I ever agree with him on anything). eMTBers skew significantly older than MTBers, and a$shole flyby-ers are invariably Strava-KOM-seeking younger men, sometimes (slightly older) women. The latter is a mystery (to me) demographic, but it’s there.
 
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