Helena opens survey on how to regulate "e-bikes" in the city

Posted at 11:04 AM, May 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-13 20:28:19-04

HELENA — Helena leaders are asking residents to weigh in on where electric bicycles, or e-bikes, should be allowed in the city.

The city has launched an online survey on whether e-bikes and e-scooters should be allowed in any of Helena’s parks, trails or developed paths.

E-bikes include an electric motor and battery that propel the rider – either directly or by assisting as they pedal. They are becoming increasingly popular, which has led to disagreements over how they should be regulated.

Advocates for e-bikes say the most popular types aren’t significantly faster, heavier or louder than regular bikes, and they could be allowed on trails with relatively little impact. Opponents say trails should be reserved for fully non-motorized use, and that e-bikes could lead to more crowding, damage and safety issues.

The survey asks respondents whether there are any locations in Helena’s park and trail system that lend themselves to e-bike use, what types of e-bikes they would support being allowed, and what benefits and downsides they identify in e-bike use.

The survey will remain open through the end of May.

Last month, the city commission decided to move forward with a public process on how to handle e-bikes. In the meantime, they will continue to be prohibited in Helena’s designated “natural parks” – including areas in the South Hills and around Mount Helena.

In a statement on the survey’s main page, the city says the commission’s decision didn’t prohibit e-bikes on city streets and sidewalks.