The Boise City Council passed a law Tuesday that allows slow e-bikes to operate on sidewalks and crosswalks, bike lanes, streets and the Boise River Greenbelt within city limits.
Additionally, people with disabilities who obtain permission can ride slow e-bikes on trails in the Foothills.
E-bikes are bicycles that assist riders through the use of electrical motors. Boise’s law divides them into three types. Class 1 e-bikes do not propel themselves. Instead, their motors help riders pedal. Class 2 e-bikes have throttles that propel the bike in addition to the pedal assist function.
Both Class 1 and Class 2 e-bikes have top speeds of 20 mph. Their electrical power cuts out when that speed is reached.
Class 3 e-bikes also have throttles. The difference is that they have top speeds that can exceed 28 mph. The city’s law will not allow them on the Greenbelt, sidewalks, crosswalks or in bike lanes.
The city initially proposed banning all e-bikes from sidewalks and crosswalks, but changed positions after a public hearing in which several people testified that the slower bikes can’t safely travel on streets that don’t have bike lanes, and that some sidewalks are appropriate for e-bikes as well as regular bicycles.
The law takes effect immediately. Boise Parks and Recreation director Doug Holloway said his department will begin examining the law’s impact right away, and will ramp up its efforts in spring when more people are using the Greenbelt.
The Greenbelt doesn’t have a speed limit. Holloway said the city will discourage excessive speeds by requiring everyone on it to go no faster than what’s appropriate for the conditions, such as weather, curves and the amount of traffic on it.
“Whether you’re on a bike or on an e-bike, it’s all the same,” Holloway said. “Operate with proper etiquette and always be in control. And operate your bicycle at a speed that’s conducive to the conditions that you’re in.”
The Parks and Recreation code of etiquette for the Greenbelt is as follows:
▪ Pedestrians have the right of way at all times.
▪ All Greenbelt users should stay to the right unless they’re passing.
▪ Pedestrians should not walk more than two abreast.
▪ Dogs must be on a leash and the leash should not exceed six feet.
▪ Keep your speed down riding a bicycle or e-bike, and say “hi” or “on the left” to make yourself known when passing pedestrians.
▪ Cyclists and e-bike riders must always be in control and adjust their speeds in accordance with conditions on the Greenbelt, or they could be cited by Boise Police for riding recklessly.