Do you want to see more e-bikes in our parks’ wildernesses? They are out there now, though their presence is illegal.
Section 2-5-29 (n) of the Orange County Code of Ordinances: (n) Motorized Wheeled Conveyance Prohibited. No person shall operate or drive any electric or combustible motorized skateboard, scooter, dirt bike, mini bike, mini motor bike, mini motorcycle, go-kart, go-ped, mo-ped, all-terrain-vehicle, quad runner, dune buggy or any similar electric or combustible motorized wheeled conveyance in any park, beach or recreational area, with the exception of Class 1 and Class 2 electric bicycles, as defined by the California Vehicle Code, on those regional paved, off-road bikeways designated for such use by the Director of OC Parks, with the approval of the Board of Supervisors. (Our emphasis)
Sierra Sage opposes the use of electric motorized bicycles (e-bikes) in our county’s wildernesses for these additional reasons:
E-bikes can easily travel at speeds up to 29 mph, way over 10 mph, which remains the speed limit in all OC Parks. Weighing on average between 35 and 70 pounds, e-bikes are substantially heavier than non-motorized bicycles. This combination of weight plus speed could be severely damaging, if not deadly, in a surprise encounter between an e-bike and a walker/hiker/conventional biker (let alone the occasional horse!). In addition, most e-bikes use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which can pose catastrophic fire hazard if they fail.
Due to their weight, e-bikes cause more trail damage, erosion, and degradation, requiring more costly trail repair. A field study of the International Mountain Biking Association showed that a “Class 1 eMTB (electric mountain trail bike) could allow users to approach the turn more quickly [than a traditional MTB] leading to greater soil movement upon breaking and/or simply the weight difference [of ca. 20 lbs].” The increased traffic brought by e-bikes will also put further stress on wildlife.
OC Parks are ever more popular and the addition of e-bikes will inevitably lead to conflicts between e-bikers and other users of the wildernesses, whose narrow trails are busy, especially on weekends, with families, hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians looking for relaxation, exercise, peace and quiet in beautiful surroundings. The addition of e-bikes to this muscle-powered public will create tensions and conflicts, the very thing the park user is trying to get away from.
Where we enthusiastically support e-bikes
We do not oppose e-bikes as such, in fact, we very much support e-bikes as an alternate, fossil-fuel free means of transportation, and enjoy riding e-bikes on designated, paved bike trails. But they have no place in OC wilderness parks. Please make sure they stay this way.
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