Class-1 e-bikes allowed at Jeffco Open Space parks for good

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By Deborah Swearingen

After piloting the idea for a year, Jeffco Open Space will permanently allow class-1 e-bikes on all trails.

“Looking at the numbers and the opportunity that this is offering our visitors and the feedback that we’re getting on it, we would like to turn this pilot into policy,” said Mary Ann Bonnell, visitors services manager with Jeffco Open Space, during an Oct. 23 staff briefing with the commissioners.

JCOS allowed class-1 e-bikes on paved trails and bikeways in August 2017 and then decided to expand that to natural-surface trails as well for the pilot program, which kicked off earlier this year.

An e-bike is an electrical-assisted bicycle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor not exceeding 750 watts. While there are three classes of e-bikes, class 1 is a low-speed, pedal-assisted bike with a motor that only activates when the rider is pedaling. It will not provide assistance after reaching 20 mph.

While conducting the pilot program, Jeffco tracked comments of all kinds from park users. According to Bonnell, despite an estimated 7 million visitors annually, there were 59 comments in total with 54 percent positive, 29 percent neutral and 17 percent negative.

Permanent fire ban

Instead of moving in and out of various fire ban stages, Jeffco Open Space has decided to stay in a stage-2 fire ban permanently.

“What that means for our visitors is a small change, and they’ve already adapted to it,” Bonnell said.

Going forward, this means no open flames at any Jeffco Open Space park, but campers and picnickers can continue to use propane or gas stoves. Grills have been removed from Jeffco Open Space land, and signage is being implemented letting visitors know propane or gas grills are allowed.

Bonnell said the decision was fairly simple due to the operational difficulties of enforcing the bans as well as the realities of Colorado’s worsening fire season and the minimal impact the change has on visitors.

Parks director Tom Hoby agreed, noting visitors have thus far reacted positively to the change.