Faster, quieter e-bikes a concern for Saskatoon runners, says advocate

Some runners in Saskatoon feel electric bikes, which are becoming more popular in Saskatoon, should be regulated or restricted from the city's multi-use paths.

Running advocate says e-bikes may pose safety hazard for pedestrians on multi-use trails.

Marcus Storey, a co-owner of Escape Sports in Saskatoon, said electronic bikes are becoming more popular in the city. (Morgan Modjeski/CBC News)

With Saskatoon City Hall examining where electric bikes, better known as e-bikes, fit in the city, a running advocate says they shouldn't be on the Meewasin Valley Authority (MVA) trail system. 

City administration is set to present a report on the city's bike bylaw this year. Officials say they'll be taking a "close look" at e-bikes during the process.

Peter Goode, president of the Saskatoon Road Runners Association, said that while the group doesn't have a position on the motorized bikes, he personally feels the faster, quieter vehicles could be dangerous for other trail users.

"People are riding them much quicker and they're actually quieter," he said. "Sometimes, you don't even hear them coming up behind you, and they're not using their bells, so there's been a couple of cases where all of a sudden, someone on a e-bike goes blasting past."

The maximum suggested speed on the MVA for cyclists is 15 km/h, but many e-bikes can go much faster.

Officials with the Meewasin Valley Authority are currently in discussions with the City of Saskatoon on where electronic bikes fit into the city. (Matthew Garand/CBC)

He said the MVA, while wide at points, is not well equipped to handle people travelling at high-speed and that, from his perspective, some of the people riding the e-bikes are less experienced than those riding regular bikes.

"It should either be controlled somehow, or totally restricted," he said.

He suggested a clearly posted speed limit on the trail as one way to regulate the bikes.

Goode said that while some cyclists give plenty of warning to pedestrians with bells or other signals, he it's a "relatively small percentage." 

"If they're not using their bell or warning you, you can step out in front of that," he said. "If there's a big bike with a big person on it, that's just a disaster waiting to happen."

A running advocate in Saskatoon is calling for electronic bikes to be regulated or restricted on the city's multi-use trails. (Albert Couillard/CBC)

Marcus Storey, co-owner of Escape Sports — which sells electric bikes — said the "electric movement is definitely getting more popular."

He said the bikes are a great way to get people thinking about sustainability while commuting.

"It kind of takes that excuse away from a lot of people of 'I can't, it's too far for me to bike, blah, blah, blah.' Some of these things are getting 80, 90 kilometres range on a charge and that's more than enough to get anywhere in the city," he said. 

Storey said he doesn't feel this should be runners against cyclists. Instead, he wants more overall awareness and education for those using the trail systems in Saskatoon.

"We just need to get people more comfortable commuting in the city on bicycles," he said.


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