Hiking trails in the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve and Mountain Parks bring a sense of calming with views and sounds of nature. A place to get away from the noise of the city.

A new policy may bring the humming of electric bikes to trails. 

The Phoenix Sonora Preserve and Mountain Parks/Preserve Committee created the EMTB subcommittee to research and provide a recommendation on the use of electric bikes on the preserve and mountain park trails.

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At the Sept. 20 meeting, the subcommittee did not make a decision, but requested further research be done. A one-year-long study was recommended to gather information on the natural resource impact on trails compared to non-motorized bikes, what class of e-bikes is used for trails, what behaviors the e-bikes exhibit on trails and how many or if any rescues have been made on e-bike riders.

The subcommittee began its review and study of e-bikes in April with a goal of providing a recommended policy for the use of e-bikes.

A study completed by The NPD Group showed that from July 2020 to July 2021, e-bike sales grew by 240%.    

An e-bike for the subcommittee’s review is defined as “a conventional bicycle with a rechargeable electric battery.”  There are three classes of e-bikes being reviewed by the EMTB subcommittee.

The Class 1 and Class 2 bikes contain an electric motor that reaches a top speed of 20 mph. The Class 1 motor works only when pedaling; the Class 2 motor runs without the rider needing to pedal with use of a throttle.

Clair Miller, the EMTB subcommittee liaison, stated that a website and social media outreach will be used to gather comments, concerns, recommendations and opinions from the public on e-bikes at the preserve trails. 

Due to time that a research study might take to begin, John Furniss, chair of the Phoenix Sonoran Preserve and Mountain Parks committee, suggested a time saving alternative. Furniss stated that obtaining data and reporting on e-bikes from other cities could be used as estimates for Phoenix.

The Arizona State Legislator passed ASR 28-819, which allows e-bikes the same usage as bicycles in state parks. ASR was passed on Jan. 1, 2019. The Maricopa County Reginal Park began allowing the use of e-bikes where bicycles are permitted on that same date.

The next EMTB subcommittee meeting will be on Nov. 15 at 6 p.m.