Tom Richards, a sales assistant at Bicycle Sports Pacific in Vancouver, shows off some new Trek electric bikes Saturday afternoon.
Gerry Kahrmann / Postmedia News
The popularity of electric bikes has propelled the provincial government to develop a new policy for their use on provincial public land.Unless otherwise restricted, electric bikes will be allowed on trails, according to the new policy, providing riders with access to many of the 600 trails managed by Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. The policy does not apply to trails managed by B.C. Parks or local governments, or on private land or vacant public land.“Any decision by a district recreation officer to restrict or prohibit a class of electric bike will be based on considerations of safety, environmental impact and user experience, and will normally result from an engagement process with interested stakeholders,” said a government press release.The policy also recognizes that e-bike use may increase trail maintenance or lead to more people accessing the backcountry, which could impact sensitive alpine areas or increase Search and Rescue calls.At Bicycle Sports Pacific in Vancouver, e-bikes have increased in popularity, said salesman Tom Richards.“Absolutely we’re seeing increasing interest,” he said Saturday afternoon.While some people still have the idea that e-bikes don’t really count as a “real bike,” others are beginning to see the benefits, including bike commuters who don’t want to get sweaty on their way to work.“That’s a big draw,” said Richards.E-bikes typically come with different settings that allow users to choose how much they want to pedal. You might choose to use less batteries while on flat surfaces, but turn up the juice on hills.Some manufacturers are also making electric mountain bikes to help with climbing and electric road bikes to help slower riders keep up with the faster pack.“The technology is pretty new, but there’s starting to be quite a range of options,” said Richards.The new provincial policy recognizes that e-bike users range from those looking to access more difficult and elevated trails, to people with disabilities who may not otherwise be able to access recreational trails.Recreation Sites and Trails B.C. plans to evaluate and review implementation of the policy in collaboration with stakeholders and user groups, and to make adjustments as necessary.What is an electric bike?In B.C., an electric bike is defined as a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with a seat, functional pedals and an electric motor of up to 500 watts. It can’t be gas powered or travel faster than 32 km/h on level ground without pedalling. Anyone riding an e-bike has to wear a helmet and must be 16 years of age or older.— With Postmedia firstname.lastname@example.org/glendaluymesCLICK HERE to report a typo.Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email email@example.com