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E-bike restriction on Okanagan Rail Trail to be reviewed, following complaints

A petition has been launched opposing a bylaw banning two classes of e-bikes on the trail
The Greater Vernon Advisory Committee will review a bylaw that bans class two and three e-bikes on the Okanagan Rail Trail at its next meeting on Wednesday, June 1, 2022. (Contributed)

Talks will reopen next week regarding a ban on class two and three e-bikes on the Okanagan Rail Trail.

The Regional District of North Okanagan (RDNO) put the ban in place on the northern trail section from Coldstream to Lake Country in July 2021, but few seemed to notice until signs were installed on the trail earlier this spring.

Prompted by a deluge of complaints, the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee (GVAC) is now slated to review the ban at its next meeting on Wednesday, June 1.

“We’ll have some further discussions to see what we can actually do here,” Akbal Mund, Vernon city councillor and GVAC chair, told the Morning Star.

The ban is intended to ensure the safety of people walking on the trail, restricting e-bikes that can reach higher speeds.

Class one e-bikes are pedal-assist only, while class two bikes have a throttle and a maximum speed of 32 kilometres per hour. Class three e-bikes are pedal-assist only, have a throttle and top out at 45 km/hr.

Mund pointed out there is precedent for the ban, as other cities have chosen to bar class two and three bikes from trails.

Opposition to the e-bike ban has mounted over the past few weeks. On Thursday, Coldstream resident Sheila Fraser, co-owner of Pedego Oyama, launched an online petition against the ban of class two bikes. The petition has garnered more than 600 signatures in 24 hours.

Fraser writes that the public was “frustrated, confused and caught off-guard” by the newly posted bylaw, and that the restrictions affect people who are less able bodied.

“It is important to note that a Class 2 electric bike has the identical operating and maximum speed features as the Class 1 ebike (which is permitted) with the one addition of the on-demand throttle,” the petition reads.

“The on-demand throttle assists less able-bodied riders to start smoothly from a standing position and move up inclines with ease while picking up the correct gear and pedal assist level. It can also assist when a fatigued rider wants or needs to complete a longer ride.”

Mund said there had been discussions about putting a speed limit in place on the trail, but that idea was nixed because it would be too difficult to monitor.

He said the fact that there are no steep hills on the trail makes it appropriate to allow class one bikes, but bikes with a throttle aren’t necessary.

“I understand there are a lot of people with e-bikes (but) you don’t really need an e-bike on that trail, you can pedal because it’s flat,” he said.

READ MORE: Old rules, new signs, never-ending complaints for North Okanagan Rail Trail

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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