From Darkness To Light

23 Apr 2022

Ordinance amended to allow class 1 ebikes at Twin Buttes Open Space trails

Posted by Adam Howell

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An existing city ordinance was amended by Durango City Council on April 19, 2022 to allow class 1 electrical assisted bikes at Twin Buttes Open Space trails.

A city ordinance was amended to allow class 1 ebikes at Twin Buttes Open Space Trails.Specifically, they voted to amend Article 3, Chapter 18 of the code of ordinances for the City of Durango. Ordinance 2022-16 regulates the use of vehicles on parks, trails and open space, and the amendment creates an additional exception for class 1 electrical assisted bicycles located within Twin Buttes development, and declaring an effective date.

“It’s kind of an exciting first trail to approve. I appreciate staff’s efforts and the advisory board’s working working together on this issue. Thank everyone for their patience in getting here. I do look forward to following up conversations with staff on processes for how we will go about evaluating future trails,” said City Council member Melissa Youssef.

One person gave public comment at the public hearing for the ordinance amendment, but the City’s audio was mostly inaudible due to technical difficulties.

Ordinance follows joint board meetings about ebike management on natural surface trails

A joint board meeting between the City of Durango’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the Natural Lands Advisory Board and the Multimodal Advisory Board on February 2, 2022 was held to discuss ebike management on its soft surface trails. The meeting was held following a one-year trial period for class 1 ebikes at Twin Buttes Open Space trails.

As part of the trial, city staff conducted a survey of people as they were leaving the trails at Twin Buttes. Natural Resource Manager Amy Scharzbach, former Parks and Recreation Director Cathy Metz and other city staff conducted the survey at the trailhead.

Participants in the survey were asked questions that were derived from the Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board and maybe the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

After conducting the survey over a period of several days and weeks, the survey was handed over to a professor at Fort Lewis College to help interpret the findings of the survey.

While most of the survey respondents agreed that class 1 ebikes should be allowed on the Twin Buttes trails, there were also some opponents.

During the trial period there was also over a hundred public comments submitted to the city about the ebike management there. Most comments were supportive of the ebikers using the Twin Buttes trails. But again, there were some opponents of the ebikes.

Also presented at the joint board meeting was some information from Natural Resource Manager Amy Schwarzbach about the requests being made to allow ebikes on other City of Durango open space areas that were encumbered by conservation easements. Currently, Twin Buttes is one, if not the only city open space area that’s not encumbered by conservation easements.

Schwarzbach stated that “the addition of e-bike use on these conservation easements is subject to approval of amendment.” To read further into the context of that claim you can read, Overend Conservation Easement misinformation again presented to city boards over eMTBs.

Towards the end of the joint board meeting on April 2, 2022, I made a motion to recommend to City Council that the city’s current prohibitionist ordinance be amended to allow class 1 ebikes at Twin Buttes.

The Multimodal Advisory Board did not have a quorum at the joint board meeting. As such, someone recommended that my motion be tabled until they had all of their board members together when they could talk about it and vote on it then. My motion was tabled.

Before we ended the joint board meeting, Richard Hoehlein made the recommendation that an ebike subcommittee be created to talk about the issues in length outside of the regular board meetings. The boards agreed to the idea, and decided that it would need three volunteers from each board to create the subcommittee.

Me, Seth Furtney and Meghan Scully from the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board volunteered from the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. Sarah Kelly, John and Kathy Morris volunteered from the Multimodal Advisory Board. Emma Millar, Matt Dayer and Betsey Nord volunteered from the Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board.

Ordinance amendment recommended individually at three board meetings to allow ebikes at Twin Buttes

At the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting on Feburary 9, 2022, my motion to allow class 1 ebikes at Twin Buttes was discussed, voted upon, and approved unanimously.

Another thing that happened was that Board Member Marty Board Member Grabijas motioned that the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board recommend to City Council to rescind Ordinance No. O-2018-25 in the Durango Municipal Code and allow the State of Colorado HB 17-1151 guide the inclusive management of eMTBs on the City’s natural surface trails, limited to Class I eMTBs. Board Members in favor were Grabijas, Speegle, Furtney, Howell, and Wiley.  Board Members opposed included Savastano, Barney, and Scully. The board approved the motion.

At the February 24, 2022 Natural Lands Preservation Advisory Board Meeting, the board discussed the motion, and voted 3-1 to pass it. Betsey Nord voted against it.

At the February, 2022 Multimodal Advisory Board meeting, the board discussed the motion, and voted unanimously in favor of it.

Then, an ebike subcommittee meeting occurred on April 12, 2022 at Durango Public Library. The meeting was publicized in advance on the city’s online calendar. Joanne Gantt was taking minutes and recording the meeting.

At the meeting, a chair person was made (Kathy Morris?) and no recommendations were made through motions. Parks and Recreation Director Ture Nycum said that City Attorney Dirk Nelson was reaching out to an attorney who is familiar with conservation easements in order to find out what would have to be amended in any of the relevant conservation easements that encumber city lands in order to allow ebikes on those trail systems.

Adam Howell is a writer who is a member of Durango’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. His views do not represent those of the rest of the board. He can be reached by clicking on this link to the contact page.

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2 Responses to “Ordinance amended to allow class 1 ebikes at Twin Buttes Open Space trails”

  1. Nicely captured.


    Seth Furtney

  2. Thank you for the feedback.


    Adam Howell

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