QUESTION: Can an association that allows bicycles on paths and trails ban e-bikes? Level-2 e-bikes are slower than manually pedaled bicycles as they are limited to 20 mph.
RESPONSE: Yes, an association can ban e-bikes. Boards can regulate how trails are used. To that end, motorcycles are routinely banned from trails intended for bicycles. E-bikes are growing in popularity and drawing more attention. Should they be allowed on trails?
Level-2 E-Bikes. The average cyclist goes about 12 mph on regular bicycles. E-bikes (electric assisted bicycles) come in all shapes, sizes and speeds. Some can achieve speeds up to 28 miles per hour under motor assist. Level-2 e-bikes are not limited to 20 mph. Instead, it's the speed at which the electric motor stops assisting the rider. The e-bike can still go as fast as the person can pedal. Because of the motor assist, e-bikes help cyclists maintain a higher average speed.
Speed and Injuries. One study in Europe found that riders of e-bikes had an average speed much higher than regular cyclists. A study by Reuters Health News found that "powered bikes carry a higher risk of severe injuries than traditional bicycles."
Test Period. If an association decides e-bikes create unsafe conditions, it can restrict them from paths and trails. Your board can institute a test period with appropriate rules to see if e-bike riders create unsafe trail conditions. If there are no complaints, e-bikes could be allowed. If most riders are safe but one is reckless, the one could be suspended from using his/her e-bike on trails.
ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.