E-Bike | Off Road Help guide e-bike policy on Mt. Tamalpais!
MMWD Committee meets four more times before making policy recommendations
On Tuesday, November 12th, over fifty e-bikers attended the third E-bike Community Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting at the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD) headquarters in Corte Madera. Many had a chance to voice support for e-bike access to the fire roads on the Mt. Tamalpais watershed. All were eloquent, thoughtful and open-minded as they advocated for inclusion.
The purpose of the CAC is to develop reasonable and actionable recommendations to inform decisions relating to e-bike usage on watershed lands.
This meeting touched on the physical, natural, cultural, and social environment of Mt. Tamalpais. While delivering clean drinking water to customers is the principal goal of MMWD, Policy 7 supports passive recreation on the watershed and includes hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
When the topic of physical impacts from bicycling came up, staff called out that bikes are only allowed on fire roads, and that those facilities are built and maintained to support vehicles that weigh many tons. Therefore the physical impacts of bicycles, including e-bikes, is not likely a hurdle that can’t be overcome.
While a few speakers were skeptical of e-bikes on the watershed, an overwhelming majority spoke favorably of their ability to allow continued access to our public lands for aging residents and those experiencing health issues. For example, one speaker said she had to stop a weekly ladies ride on the watershed that she’s enjoyed for decades after suffering a back injury. The e-bike enables her to ride once again without experiencing excruciating pain.
The CAC will meet four more times before making recommendations related to e-bike policy on the watershed. Topics still to be discussed include user relations, safety, and education. We encourage anyone who enjoys the Mt. Tamalpais watershed to attend a meeting. Below is the schedule for the remainder of the process.
December 10, 2019
E-bike users in relation to other user groups
January 14, 2020
Safety issues associated with E-bikes
February 11, 2020
Regulation, Enforcement protocols, and Educational Opportunities
March 10, 2020
Pros/cons discussion of recommendations
April 14, 2020
Review final report/conclude process
The introduction of e-bikes on our trails, fire roads, and pathways understandably raises several questions around their compatibility with other user groups. We are promoting a fact-based dialogue as agencies at all levels consider how, and under what conditions, e-bikes should be allowed.
At this time, Marin County Bicycle Coalition will focus on education and highlight the many benefits of e-bikes, especially for Marin’s parents, the aging population, and anyone looking for a way to reduce car dependence, lead an active lifestyle, and access public lands.
MCBC supports the adoption of e-bikes for several reasons:
E-bikes remove barriers to bicycling. E-bikes flatten hills and enable people to cover longer distances in less time, making bicycling more accessible and enjoyable for people of all ages and abilities.
More people on bikes equals fewer people in cars. Whether on roads, pathways, or trails, every person on an e-bike is someone who isn’t in a car. That’s a good thing for public health, traffic congestion, and air quality.
More people on bikes equals more people enjoying parks. As more people are able to access and enjoy our public lands, the more support we will have to protect these lands and expand trail access.
E-bikes facilitate access to remote less-visited park areas, reducing stress on primary trails while improving public access to remote trails.
We encourage all interested parties and stakeholders to work together in a productive, inclusive and open-minded conversation as Marin’s land managers gather data and feedback on e-bikes.