E-Bikes on Open Space District Trails

Paved trail at Ravenswood Open Space Preserve

Should Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (Midpen) allow electric bicycles (e-bikes) on District trails? This question was extensively debated by the Midpen Board on June 29 during a five-hour meeting where members of the public weighed in with persuasive comments both pro and con.

District staff had done extensive research on the potential impacts of e-bikes, including conflicts with other trail users, fire risk, increased noise, and specific observable impacts to wildlife near trails, as well as more difficult to quantify impacts to reclusive wildlife species from people accessing more remote areas of the District’s open space preserves.

In the end, the Midpen board voted 4-2 to continue to prohibit e-bikes on District trails that currently allow mountain bikes, except for the two paved or improved trails at Ravenswood and San Antonio Preserves where successful pilot projects have been conducted. In areas where regular bicycles are permitted, e-bikes will continue to be allowed for people with a mobility disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Decision Consistent with Midpen’s Mission

This decision was consistent with our letter that noted that e-bikes are a motorized form of transportation that should be limited to locations where there are no impacts to other trail users, wildlife and/or wildlife habitats.  The District’s mission is to protect and restore the natural environment, and to provide opportunities for ecologically sensitive public enjoyment and education.

While we recognize that many people could benefit from e-bike access, we also have an obligation to ensure that over the course of time, everyone will still be able to enjoy the same quiet contemplation of nature as we do today, and that wildlife will continue to thrive.

Green Foothills applauds Board President Zoe Kersteen-Tucker and Directors Curt Riffle, Karen Holman, and Jed Cyr for taking the long view and allowing e-bikes only on paved or improved trails with adequate width to accommodate all users at Ravenswood and Rancho San Antonio Preserves.

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