Tell us what you think about the use of e-bikes and e-scooters on Montgomery Parks trails.
At the May 9, 2019, Planning Board Session, a Park Directive was approved to allow e-bikes and e-scooters on certain Montgomey Parks trails for a six-month pilot program to run from June 1 - December 1, 2019.
The pilot program will allow Montgomery Parks to study the impact of e-bikes and e-scooters on hiker-biker, hard-surface trails, and will be conducted in two phases.
Phase 1 will allow for the use of personally owned e-bikes and e-scooters of certain types on certain hard-surface trails.
Phase 2 will commence as soon as Parks has entered into contractual agreements with vendors to allow commercial e-scooters and e-bikes on the same hard-surface trails.
Parks will aim to tailor the Phase 2 portion of its pilot to align with Montgomery County's e-bike and e-scooter program,
The Parks pilot program also includes an option to extend for an additional six months to continue to evaluate the pilot. As much as possible, Parks’ program will run in tandem with MCDOT’s. For example, Parks’ extension might match the termination date of MCDOT’s pilot.
The following hiker-biker trails are included in the Parks’ pilot program and will be posted as such in public noticing and through outreach on social media and the web:
- Long Branch Trail – hard surface
- Matthew Henson Trail – hard surface
- Northwest Branch Trail Paved Sections (within Montgomery County, not into Prince Georges) – hard surface
- Rock Creek Trail – hard surface
- Sligo Creek Trail (within Montgomery County, not into Prince Georges) – hard surface
(Click Map to Enlarge)
Electric Bicycles (e-bikes) and Electric Scooters (e-scooters) are becoming increasingly popular for transportation and recreation in the United States. They have become more affordable to purchase for personal/private use. Companies like Lime, Bird, Jump, Skip, Spin, Razor, and Lyft are deploying rentable, dockless e-vehicles at affordable rates throughout the Washington, D.C. metro area. Commuters and the general public can now own or rent e-bikes and e-scooters for short trips to places of employment, transit stations, central business districts or just for fun.
Parks’ Pilot Program will only include Class I e-bicycles and e-scooters that operate by a rechargeable battery.
Park trails included in the pilot are primarily North-South bound trails within stream valley parks. One reason for Parks to do its own pilot is that park trail users’ travel patterns are different than traditional transportation trips, and often involve going the length of trails rather than staying focused within a commercial core. In addition, Parks will first test the use of e-bikes and e-scooters on certain hiker-biker trails before potentially expanding their use to busier, hard-surface trails like the Capital Crescent Trail that have a higher potential for user conflict. Use of these trails requires more careful planning which can be accommodated with lessons learned from Parks pilot program. The maximum vehicle speed permitted on all Parks trails is 20 mph.
Electric Bicycles (e-bikes) Definition
E-bicycles can be classified into four broad types:
- Class I electric bicycles have pedals and users can engage the electric power only when they are pedaling, to give them a boost when climbing a hill for example. Class I, e-bikes have a maximum speed of 20 mph.
- Class II, electric bicycles often do not have pedals (although some do), and the user engages the motor using a throttle on the handlebar, like mopeds and motorcycles. Class II e-bikes also have a maximum speed of 20 mph. The electric motor on a Class II e-bike can function independently of whether the rider is pedaling. A rider can choose to pedal, ride using only the throttle, or both.
- Class III, electric bicycles are similar to Class I e-bikes but have a maximum speed of 28 mph.
- Class IV, electric bicycles are typically powered by a combustible (gasoline) engine and can often travel as fast as a moped or motorcycle.
Electric Scooters (e-scooters) Definition
An e-scooter is a vehicle that:
- is designed to transport only the operator;
- weighs less than 100 pounds;
- has single wheels in tandem or a combination of one or two wheels at the front and rear of the vehicle;
- is equipped with handlebars and a platform designed to be stood on while riding;
- is solely powered by a battery-powered electric motor and human power; and
- is capable of operating at a speed of up to 25 mph.
How will the Department of Parks evaluate the pilot program?
The following aspects are examples of data which will be analyzed to evaluate the pilot:
- Conflicts with existing user groups
- Infractions, violations, theft and/or other observations by Park Police and Parks staff
- Operational challenges and logistics
- Differences between personal users and commercial users
- Public input on items in addition to those listed above
With accurate data on actual usage and the impact of e-bikes and e-scooters on existing users and park operations, Parks and the Planning Board can make informed decisions about whether these dockless e-vehicles should be: a) studied further; b) allowed permanently on the hiker-biker park trails studied; c) allowed for certain types of users only; d) allowed on additional trails not included in the Parks Pilot Program (such as the busy Capital Crescent Trail); e) not allowed on hiker-biker trails should there be valid reasons; or e) considered and/or implemented in ways other than those noted above.
The deadline for posting statements was 12:00 AM on December 1, 2019
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