A new bylaw governing e-bikes on City of Whitehorse trails could be in place later this year.
At a Jan. 28 council and senior management roundtable discussion, parks and recreation manager Landon Kulych put forward the proposed bylaw, which would allow for class 1 and 2 e-bikes on all city trails. Class 1 and 2 e-bikes are those that can reach speeds up to 32 kilometres per hour.
Class 3 e-bikes can reach speeds up to 45 km/h and would be permitted only on motorized trails.
As Kulych explained city staff from the parks, bylaw and the legislative services departments have been working on drafting a bylaw after the city’s most recent trail plan established that 57 per cent of survey respondents supported having provisions in place for bikes on trails.
Currently, there are no reference to e-bikes or other e-mobility options in any city bylaw.
With more residents purchasing and riding e-bikes, the rebate offered by Yukon government that is expected to continue encouraging bike purchases, a need for clarity, and continued questions coming from residents seeking clarity on regulations, Kulych said the city decided to look at possibilities.
Along with looking at the results of the trail plan survey, meetings have been held with a number of stakeholders including First Nations, cycling clubs, and other interest groups.
As with the bicycle bylaw, the e-bike bylaw would include provisions requiring the helmets be worn, headlights and taillights be in use when it’s dark, operational brakes are in place and that no major alterations be made to the bike.
Should the bylaw eventually be adopted, an education campaign would follow to ensure the community is aware of the new regulations. Fines of between $50 and $100 could apply when the bylaw is enforced.
With the parks department also continuing work on a trail etiquette document, Kulych said that could also serve as an opportunity for education on the potential e-bike bylaw.
He said city staff will continue working to finalize a draft bylaw followed by a legal review before it moves forward for public consultation.
Coun. Steve Roddick confirmed with Kulych there would be time for adjustments to be made depending on what comes out of the public consultation.
It’s anticipated the proposed bylaw would come forward to city council for approval in the spring after the public consultation.
Kulych noted there will also be a few changes to other bylaws, recognizing the use and definition of bikes.
Questioned by Coun. Dan Boyd about any regulations around the use of e-bikes on roads and sidewalks, Kulych noted that would be covered in the sidewalk bylaw and bicycle bylaw.
While the bylaw would propose allow class 1 and 2 e-bikes on all city trails, Kulych highlighted a portion of the bylaw stating the allowance for e-bikes on trails “unless otherwise posted.”
It’s a provision that would allow the city to post signs if, for some reason, there is a need to change it.
As the city moves forward with the draft bylaw, Coun. Dan Boyd said he was pleased with what has been proposed so far.
“It’s a fairly simple bylaw,” Boyd said, noting it would be easy for the public to understand and enforcement would be fairly straightforward as well.
It provides “basic clarity” for those using e-bikes, he said.
After the bylaw has been drafted and gone through a legal review, public consultation will begin.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org