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As someone living the Pacific Northwest who grew up in the SF Bay Area riding
scene, the spread of e-bikes scares the hell out of me. I think this article
is spot on in that, rather than chucking marketing dollars at e-bikes,
Specialized and other major companies should be leveraging their size to
support advocacy attempting to define a clear line for trail protections
around e-bikes. In the Bay Area, I saw great trails - MTB LEGAL ones I might
add - torn down because a rider scared or collided with an outspoken hiker or
horseback rider. In the Seattle area, we're spoiled by great legal riding
options, but continued access to these lands is contingent on mountain biking
remaining the same sport that it has been when those rights were negotiated.
I don't care if it's just an electric assist - an e-bike is now a motorized
bicycle. It is no longer exclusively human powered, and that creates major
grey area opportunity for larger, richer advocacy groups that don't like to
share trails with mountain bikes. Private landowners graciously granting land
rights to human powered pursuits (hiking, mountain biking) are common here in
the PNW, and I have grave concerns around what they might think of mountain
biking as a whole if they start to see "motorized bikes" on their trails that
are explicitly off limits to motorcycles, etc.
I'm all about giving people access to the trails and helping folks who would
have otherwise lost the ability to pursue their passion for riding, but my
experience is that e-bikes have been marketed to and perceived by the consumer
as the equivalent of a mountain bike. Without expressed agreement from the
agencies that give us permission to actually ride our bikes on our favorite
trails, that's very, very dangerous.
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