Posted by: tashi
I'd say that it does matter if they're considered them mountain bikes or not. Land managers likely agree with me, as they often make trail access decisions based on whether or not the toy has a motor.
My point is about perspective - for some it matters and for some it doesn't. As for land managers you may be right, but at least locally this seems to not be a big enough of an issue for them to care about it all that much right now.
I'm honestly more concerned about the lack of rules/policies/guidelines regarding their use from both a land manager perspective and a trail org perspective. There seems to be very little talk on what is considered appropriate. Trail org's seem to be deferring to land managers and land managers seem to be saying and doing nothing, so in effect it's open season. I tend to view humans as generally unthinking but having the potential to do smart things, so if people aren't given reasonable guidelines to follow they'll probably tend to do whatever the hell they want or what their peer group deems as ok. The psychology of decision making and behaviour modifying is interesting. For example we know that changing behaviour is a difficult thing and that shaming is typically not very effective and can even backfire and reinforce the objectionable behaviour. That part of why I don't think the yelling that ebikes suck is an effective strategy for managing their use.
Right now the barn door is open and a couple of horses are poking their heads outside to see what the weather is like. I think that potentially within a couple of years the horses will bolt and run wild unless someone either closes the door or puts a fence around the barn. Last year we had municipal elections and the issue of ebikes didn't even register on the radar. That could have been a good time to make this issue visible. The next elections are 3.5 years away, which probably too late to do anything about from a political pressure perspective. The longer things go without any sort of formal rules or regulations the greater the chance that ebikes become embedded as a user group with associated potential user conflicts.
It's basically hurry up and wait to see what happens.