Jerry Marcyk’s guest article, “Snobbery on the local bike trails” on May 10 was spot on! I am two years his senior, and being a septuagenarian a ‘pedal-assisted’ e-bike would be very helpful. I have pulmonary insufficiency peddling uphill on single-track trails, and assisted pedaling would help me overcome shortness of breath which often have me off my mountain bike and walking it up hills. Keep in mind Jerry’s mention that that assisted pedaling e-bikes have no throttle, but only help when the bicyclist pedals the bike to get the assistance.
I have heard and read the arguments against e-bikes as it may promote high speeds and a degradation of trails. The only difficulty I have encountered on the Phil’s Trail system has been on a one-way downhill section run (Phil’s Trail) wherein a cluster of 5 much younger cyclists passed me at a breakneck speed in a narrow section involving rocks on the trail and boulders on each side and it nearly caused a collision. At the bottom of the hill the young men, probably in their early 20s, where chatting at a standstill. As I approached them, I asked them to consider not passing at speed on narrow sections involving rocks and limited space. As they acknowledged my comments with their eyes rolling, I suspect they thought, “OK Boomer!”.
We ‘Boomers’ in our 60s and 70s are not interested in going fast or tearing up trails. Pedal assisted e-bikes cannot spin wheels and the fastest I go is up to 18 mph downhill on a paved pathway (the paved path from United States Forest Service Welcome Center to the hotel off Century Drive). On dirt single-track trails downhill, and with no rocks or tree roots, I go no faster than 10-12 mph. Seniors are not the cyclists that COTA or USFS should be concerned will tear up the trails and cause speeding incidents.
There needs to be a method folks 60+ can use e-bikes that are only pedaling assisted on any single-track trail on any public land. Like Jerry, my goal is to remain active and use our wealth of trails here locally that we are blessed to have. I would not be opposed to a process where I am licensed to use a pedal-assisted e-bike by proof of age and would be happy to pay a small fee for the same. Central Oregon is fast becoming a larger retirement community, and there are many of us Seniors that would benefit from an assist using e-bikes on single-track trails.
Simply put, the only concern over the use of e-bikes on mountain bike single-track trails should be over high wattage e-bikes that are throttle based and can go speeds unacceptable on small trails. Pedal-assisted e-bikes of acceptable wattage for those 60+ should be allowed. It is not Jerry and myself that should concern COTA and USFS in this regard. I posit it is the adrenaline-seeking much younger cyclists that would be able and interested in achieving high speeds that would potentially degrade the managed trails and create speeding incidents. Perhaps it is time to petition COTA and USFS for logical changes, and I would welcome The Bulletin in giving we seniors a hand at getting started on that process.