Photo by Justin VanAlstyne

Executive Summary:

In 2018, the Fort Collins Bicycle Advisory Committee submitted a recommendation in support of a pilot program to allow and evaluate electric-assist bicycles (e-bikes) with two or three wheels and fully operable pedals, Class I and Class II, on Fort Collins paved trails.1 After the framework for the pilot program was developed by staff from FC Moves, Natural Areas, Parks, and Park Planning and Development, in 2019, Fort Collins enacted a one-year exemption that allowed Class I and Class II e-bikes on paved multi-use trails.

On April 21, 2020, the Fort Collins City Council approved City and Traffic Code updates to allow Class I and Class II ebikes on paved trails following the completion of the pilot program. The e-bike pilot program evaluation report recommended an annual evaluation of e-bike usage on trails. In March 2022, an evaluation was conducted involving a total of 25 data collections over a 6-day period. The data collections were modeled after the e-bike pilot evaluation. They allowed for the monitoring of trail utilization and experience, use of e-bikes, safety behaviors, speeds, and user perceptions.

The objectives of this evaluation include the following:
1. Collect a sample of perceptions from Fort Collins’ paved trail users regarding e-bikes and other e-devices.
2. Monitor speeds and trail behaviors of cyclists.
3. Document similarities and differences between traditional bicycles and e-bikes.

Key findings:
Intercept Survey

  • Nearly all respondents walk, bike, or jog while on the trails.
  • A majority of respondents support or are neutral about allowing Class I e-bikes (75%), Class II e-bikes (61%), and other e-devices (71%) on paved trails.
  • Only 2 trail users reported conflict with e-bikes on day of survey.

Speed Assessment

  • E-bike observations were a fraction of the total bike observations across the Fort Collins paved trail system. Only 103 e-bike speeds were recorded out of a total of 1,032 bike observations.
  • The average speed for all bike types was 11.98 mph. 109 (11.7%) traditional bikes and 4 (3.9%) e-bikes were observed going over the 15 mph courtesy speed limit.

Trail Count and Observed Behavior

  • 24% of traditional bikes gave an audible signal when passing another trail user (n=74), and 44% gave three feet when passing (n=132).
    33% of e-bikes gave an audible signal when passing another trail user (n=8), and 50% gave three feet when passing (n=12).
  • Traditional bikes were the only mode of transportation with observed conflict which includes near misses and reckless riding (n=9).

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