Letters to the editor
The Kansan recently ran an article about motorized vehicles being used on the Sand Creek bike paths. I agree some things don't belong there, but to be clear, users of mobility scooters and e-bikes certainly do.
Mobility scooters are the battery-powered 4-wheeled chairs that you see all around town. They are essential mobility equipment for many people, just as canes, crutches and wheelchairs are for others. Without them, these folks would not be able to enjoy Sand Creek as you and I do.
As for e-bikes - State Statute 8-1489 defines these as bicycles with two or three wheels, fully operative pedals for human propulsion, an electric motor of no more than 1,000 watts, and max assisted speed of no more than 20 miles per hour. Some e-bikes available may have throttles, but most are human-powered vehicles that require the user to make an effort. The harder you pedal, the more electric motor assist they provide.
E-bikes have a lot of people riding who otherwise wouldn't be. I'll go further and say “who otherwise couldn't be. I know a couple of well-seasoned Newtonians who wouldn't be riding, or at least not as much, without their e-trikes.
So I'd say e-bikes fit well on our trails. Kansas law doesn't seem to precisely agree but Statute 8-1592-b does say e-bikes don't require vehicle registration or a driver's license and fall under the same traffic regs as bicycles, so it doesn't differentiate between them when it comes to use. City and County still could, but I don't see that serving anyone's good purpose.
Regarding trail etiquette – unauthorized motor vehicles aren't the only ones going fast. Some bicyclists are as well. At times I'm one of them, but not around people or animals or when vision or traction are limited. My wife and I have had to deal with fast bikes on the trails and we don't like it either.
We call them bike trails, but they are really shared-use trails where everyone, walkers and cyclists alike, should be alert for and respectful of other users. Most of us are doing that quite well. Others are welcome to try.
— Dana Shifflett, McClain. Chairman, Walk&Roll Harvey