Newsletter 2


Happy Saturday and welcome to the second installment of my newsletter, where I bring you up to date news and additional context on the issues I cover in my blog, Your Front Row Seat.” I have intentionally released this newsletter for a Saturday delivery to keep you informed and up to date on a current issue and apprise you of an upcoming community meeting so you are well-versed and aware.

Our topic of the day is electronic bikes (e-bikes), motorized bicycles that offer pedal assistance. This is a hot button topic for our bike obsessed town, ripe for discussion and debate in our local news media, on our city boards, and within the biking community.

I devoted a full length article on my blog to e-bikes, “E-Bikes on Durango Trails” because the issue of e-bikes on paved and dirt trails in and around Durango is complex and must be addressed, sooner rather than later. In my e-bike blog I discuss the different types of e-bikes, varying jurisdictional regulations, and critical points for consideration.

In May 2016, The Durango City Council prohibited e-bikes on city trails. Safety concerns were cited as the primary reason for the ban. Both the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (on which I serve as Vice President) and the Natural Lands Advisory Board backed City Council’s decision.

E-bikes represent a new and emerging technology and occupy a still undefined grey space when it comes to paved and dirt trail access. In Durango, e-bikes, along with all motorized vehicles, are only allowed on roads and motorized vehicle trails. People with disabilities who require motorized, ambulatory assistance are exceptions to the rule and may apply for a handicap placard from the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles. If this placard is appropriately displayed on the e-bike they are lawfully allowed to ride on Durango City trails at this time.

Most major bicycle brands now offer an e-bike option. E-bikes are available for purchase locally with pricing ranging from $1,000 up to $7,000, depending on suspension, brand and components. There are individuals in our community who would like to see our City Council lift the ban on e-bikes and allow them on city trails, both paved and mountain, for all riders. However, lifting the ban has far reaching implications and in my opinion should not occur without additional study, energetic dialogue and debate, careful consideration, and opportunities for significant community input.

Please refer to my e-bike blog and check out the links for more information on this timely topic. In addition, the People for Bikes website is a great source of information.

The City of Durango will begin the public input process on Monday, September 19th. A Multi Modal, Parks and Recreation and Natural Lands Preservation Joint Advisory Board Meeting will take place at 5pm at the Durango Community Recreation Center. This meeting is open to the public – be prepared for a discussion addressing rules, access and regulations. The meeting will include an opportunity for the public to comment. Those attending will have – and no doubt fervently express – impassioned opinions both for and against the use and accessibility of e-bikes on our city trails.

You will normally hear from me during the week with Newsletter updates, but I’m sending this Newsletter early to encourage you to attend the Joint Public Advisory Board meeting this coming Monday, 9/19.

One of my top priorities during my years of service on a variety of local nonprofit boards of directors has been to ensure that the public has access to information on important issues that affect and shape our community and culture – and a voice to express concerns, opinions, and desires. Your involvement and voice are important as we begin what is bound to be a lively, and sometimes contentious, community dialogue.

E-bike use has the potential to impact multiple aspects of our community, including recreation, tourism, commuting, trail maintenance, and our community’s long-term vision of multi-modal friendliness. We need YOUR input in the decisions and policies that shape the future of our town. I hope to see you there.

Keep on riding!

Melissa Youssef
Blogger, Your Front Row Seat

Focusing on issues and initiatives significant to everyone who calls Durango home.

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Published: September 21, 2016