Should Electric Bikes Be Allowed On Austin’s Trails?

Austin Skyline

Electric bikes are becoming more and more popular in Austin… but are they allowed on our Hike and Bike trails? For now, the answer is no.

However, the city’s Parks and Recreation Department is considering changing the rules and opening up the trail (which encircles Lady Bird Lake) to electric bikes.

Wait. What exactly is an electric bike again? 
To be clear, an electric bike is not a motorcycle. Most electric bikes utilize a pedal-assist function, which means the rider still has to pedal for the bike to move. (Although some do have a throttle, which allows the rider to not even pedal at all.)

Electric bikes can travel at about 20 miles an hour. Of course, if the rider wants to pedal faster, they’re still able to do so.

These electric bikes have become more and more popular for several reasons:

  1. They’re heavily utilized by many dockless bike companies, included JUMP and Lime
  2. They make commuting by bike (especially in a hot place like Texas) easier. Several local retailers specialize in selling electric bikes, including Z BikezRocket Electric, and Electric Avenue Scooters.
  3. They provide the opportunity for more people to commute by bike, even if they’re older or physically not as capable

On the flip side, there have also been concerns about allowing electric bikes on the Hike and Bike Trail because it is already so heavily trafficked and people are concerned about the conflict between bikers, walkers, runners, and electric bicycle riders.

So how can you share your opinions about the future of electric bikes on the Hike and Bike Trail?

As the nonprofit organization that fundraises for and protects the trail, the Trail Foundation wants to hear from you. They’re currently running an online survey to determine whether or not the community wants to see electric bikes on the trail.

You can take the survey here. It closes on August 20th at midnight.

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