Lower-powered electric pedal-assist bicycles, or e-bikes, will be allowed on the lower section of the Rio Grande Trail during the upcoming 95-day Grand Avenue bridge detour — and even beyond, as it turns out.
The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority board on Thursday, after significant discussion and public input, agreed on a 6-2 vote to allow Class 1 and 2 e-bikes on the Rio Grande between Glenwood Springs and the Catherine Store Road gate east of Carbondale during the Glenwood bridge closure that starts Monday.
The Colorado Department of Transportation, which is building the new bridge connecting Colorado 82 to Interstate 70, requested the use of e-bikes on the lower Rio Grande as one way to try to reduce traffic on the Midland Avenue/Eighth Street detour route by 35 percent while the bridge is down.
“We want to see people using different types of transportation during this time, and allowing e-bikes on the portion of the trail from Glenwood to Carbondale is one way to do that,” said Dave Ehlers, CDOT regional commissioner.
But the RFTA decision essentially became moot when the board failed to achieve the six votes needed to pass a separate resolution that would have prohibited e-bikes on the Rio Grande for the long term.
That resolution was necessary due to a state law that took effect Wednesday that defines Class 1 and 2 e-bikes as nonmotorized vehicles. The new law, which had Gov. John Hickenlooper’s support, allows e-bikes on public trails, streets and roads unless local jurisdictions choose to prohibit them.
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The failed RFTA vote means the state law now applies on the Rio Grande, at least for now.
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