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Our View: Expand motorized vehicles’ use of Bike Path | Opinion

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Our View: Increase motorized automobiles’ use of Bike Path | Opinion

The instances they’re a changin’. And that change quickly could also be seen on the Kern River Parkway Path, generally often known as the Bike Path.

Stretching for greater than 30 miles throughout Bakersfield, the Bike Path has lengthy restricted use by motorized automobiles. That will change to permit quicker electrical bicycles and scooters.

It’s an acceptable extension of the favored Bike Path’s use. Nevertheless it requires cautious consideration of how quicker motorized automobiles will be safely built-in right into a route closely trafficked by cyclists and walkers.

Final month, the three-member Bakersfield Metropolis Council Legislative and Litigation Committee really helpful the total council vote to approve opening the Bike Path for e-bike use that features quicker, Class III e-bikes. The advice additionally contains use by motorized scooters and boards.

Metropolis employees is drafting an ordinance to be thought of later by the total council in session with the general public.

A “Wild West” opening of the Bike Path can be asking for hassle. However a fastidiously crafted ordinance that balances demand with security might end in a good, equitable use of the Bike Path, which was constructed with federal, state and native tax {dollars}.

E-bikes are regulated by state regulation in three classes — Class I, geared up with a motor that gives help solely when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to supply help as soon as the bike has reached 20 mph; Class II, geared up with a motor that could be used solely to propel the bicycle, and that isn’t able to offering help as soon as the bike has reached 20 mph; and Class III, geared up with a speedometer and a motor that gives help solely when the rider is pedaling, and that ceases to supply help as soon as the bike has reached 28 mph.

Relying how a lot somebody desires to pay, an e-bike will be constructed to hit speeds exceeding 40 mph. However that isn’t what’s being proposed.

For comparability, contemplate the Spandex-clad cyclists we regularly see rushing down the Bike Path. Based on trade estimates, Tour de France riders obtain 25 miles per hour over 125 miles. However for the start, short-distance riders, the common pace is 12 mph. A reliable membership rider, who repeatedly trains, doubtless is touring at a pace of 20-24 mph.

And not using a suitable pace restrict positioned on e-bikes, e-scooters and the likes, the Bike Path can shortly develop into harmful to all customers.

However increasing use by a higher vary of motorized automobiles is affordable. Practically everybody’s tax {dollars} went into setting up the Bike Path and it’s the Bakersfield Metropolis Council’s job to provide you with a protected plan to broaden use.

E-bike gross sales are skyrocketing within the U.S. and worldwide. Trade analysts predict the worldwide e-bike market valued at $25.03 billion in 2020 will practically double to $48.46 billion by 2028.

There are a whole lot of causes for this spike and a few are pandemic-related. Individuals craving for a technique to get open air purchased e-bikes. Elevated use of supply providers has been supported by e-bikes. Some getting older cyclists, who’re encountering well being issues, have switched to e-bikes to maintain rolling down the street. Many riders additionally simply are in search of safer routes to keep away from sharing congested streets with massive, rushing automobiles.

Coaxing commuters and leisure vacationers out of their gas-guzzling automobiles and onto bicycles — conventional pedal, or e-bikes — additionally is nice for the setting. Various authorities packages now present “inexperienced vitality” incentives to encourage e-bike use.

Bakersfield is just not the one metropolis contemplating opening up its Bike Path to quicker motorized automobiles. A number of California seaside cities and communities all through the nation are contemplating guidelines adjustments. Final yr, the U.S. Nationwide Forest Service modified its guidelines to permit e-bikes on NFS roads and trails. Nationwide Parks superintendents now can enable e-bikes “the place acceptable on roads and trails the place conventional bicycles are additionally allowed.”

Permitting expanded use of e-bikes on Bakersfield’s Bike Path should be accompanied by setting acceptable pace limits, posting guidelines, erecting traffic-control boundaries and rising patrols to dam unlawful use by bikes, SUVs and off-road motor automobiles.


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