Electric bikes could hit Seattle trails

Seattle Parks and Recreation will look at a plan to allow electric-assisted bicycles on multi-use trails.

E-bikes are already being used on some trails, but the city wants to put some rules in place.

Seattle Parks and Recreation told KIRO 7 that safety is a top concern. They also want to find a way that e-bikes can co-exist on the shared-use path.

There's an increasing use of electric-assisted bicycles all over Seattle. Washington State legislation just passed, and will take effect in June, which classifies electric-assisted bicycles into Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3.

Seattle Parks and Recreation is trying to work with regional stakeholders that help manage the trails.

"What are the expectations? What are the regulations and rules on these trails?" Todd Burley, a sustainability advisor with Seattle Parks and Recreation, said.

Burley presented to the Board of Park Commissioners on April 12 about the multi-use trail pilot project.

"This is our initial presentation to them about our proposal,” said Burley. “That will be followed by a public hearing on April 26, and a possible vote on it by the Board of Park Commissioners on May 10."

The pilot proposal has three main parts: 

  • Establishing a 15 mph speed limit for all users.
  • Doing an education campaign in partnership with the Seattle Department of Transportation.
  • Allowing Class 1 and Class 2 electric-assisted bicycles on five of the following multi-use trails Seattle Parks and Recreation manage:
  1. Burke-Gilman Trail
  2. Elliott Bay Trail
  3. Mountains To Sound Trail
  4. Melrose Connector Trail
  5. Duwamish Trail

"We identified trails that were used by commuters that had high use,” said Burley. “[We] also [want to be clear that these are] trails that we heard about this issue from the public on."

KIRO 7 had no trouble finding people concerned about sharing the Burke-Gilman Trail with e-bikes.

"If you're on an electric bike that is not propelled by you, you're probably a little less likely to be in control," Doug Diekema, a Seattle resident, said.

But others see it as a solution.

"Anything that can help this congestion we're seeing in Seattle right now, I think this is going to be a big benefit,” said a University of Washington student, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Seattle Parks and Recreation told KIRO 7 it hopes to launch the pilot program on Memorial Day weekend.

The pilot program would run until 2019.

More news from KIRO 7