On Monday, June 15, Roanoke City Council unanimously voted to allow all classes of e-bikes on City greenways and trails beginning July 1. This comes in the wake of House Bill 543 that passed earlier this year. The bill redefines e-bikes and allows them on shared-use paths beginning July 1 unless prohibited by the locality. On June 15, the City of Roanoke held a public hearing to gather citizen input regarding e-bikes on greenways and trails. After overwhelming support for e-bikes and the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board’s endorsement, City Council voted to allow them.
What are e-bikes?
An electric bike (e-bike) is a bicycle with an electric motor attached that assists the user. E-bikes have three classes:
- Class I -pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph.
- Class II –throttle assisted and have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph.
- Class III –pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and have a maximum assisted speed of 28 mph.
With classes I and III, the motor turns off once the user stops pedaling. With Class II, the motor will still function without the user pedaling as long as the throttle is held down.
What does this mean?
E-bikes used to be defined as motorized vehicles, and City Code prohibits the use of such on the greenways and trails. With HB 543, they’re no longer defined as motorized vehicles when they’re not in the public right of way and, thus, are now allowed. However, electric scooters and electric skateboards are still prohibited. Click here to read HB 543 in its entirety.
Additionally, this means that more people might be using the trails and greenways. That’s great! We want as many people to have access to the wonderful outdoor amenities we have to offer. However, more use means more maintenance. If you’re an avid greenway/trail user, we’d love to have your help. You can get involved by signing up for trail work, hosting a greenway clean up, or becoming a Greenway Ambassador! The more people we have maintaining our amenities and educating users, the better.
The biggest concern for those who oppose e-bikes is speed, and that is certainly valid. Our greenways and trails are for everyone to enjoy, and being considerate of one another is the only way to make these public spaces pleasant for all. Whether you’re a cyclist, a jogger, or a dog walker, please read up on proper greenway and trail etiquette. As mentioned above, you can help educate users on greenway rules and safety by becoming a Greenway Ambassador—click here to learn more.
It’s up to all of us to make sure our public spaces continue to be safe, fun, and accessible to all users. We look forward to this exciting change and the new possibilities it brings.