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Palo Alto's tortuous e-bike discussion

Uploaded: Mar 5, 2023

I am grateful that Palo Alto’s City Council decided not to allow e-bikes on unpaved trails in our two nature preserves, the Baylands Nature Preserve and the Pearson-Arastradero Preserve. We have beautiful paved trails on the periphery of the Baylands and elsewhere that are perfect for commuting and recreational rides. There is no need to open up trails in more sensitive areas within the preserves. E-bikes are designed to enable more people to bike farther and faster, while nature preserves are meant for low impact human visitation. The Council’s ruling to limit e-bike access is consistent with the Midpen decision on e-bikes in their preserves, which allows e-bikes only on a commute route at the edge of the Ravenswood Preserve and in the high traffic area between the preserve entrance and the farm at Rancho San Antonio.

A paved trail runs along the edge of the Baylands Nature Preserve in Palo Alto

Input from Palo Altans aligned with the decision as well. The Council got considerable feedback in writing and in person from nature lovers, bicycle advocates, and environmental groups. Councilmember Ed Lauing said that around 80% of the feedback requested Council to restrict e-bikes to paved trails. Three large wildlife organizations weighed in with that same perspective.

So the decision seems correct and straightforward. But the discussion leading up to it was anything but.

Several Councilmembers did their homework. Both Pat Burt and Vicki Veenker visited the preserves to better reflect on the policy options in context. Burt went to Arastradero and came away concerned that even the standard bicycle and horse regulations we have in place today may be inadequate on the narrower trails. Veenker went to the Baylands where she was impressed with the serenity and beauty of the place. She came away feeling that e-bikes would unnecessarily intrude. Councilmember Ed Lauing read the full Council packet in detail, referenced many parts of it, and had a thoughtful and well-founded explanation for his stance. Mayor Lydia Kou advocated for the preserves and their inhabitants. She pointed out that our preserves are special places with a charter to protect and prioritize wildlife. Palo Alto has a long history of environmental stewardship and these preserves have taken a concerted effort to establish and protect.

A biker in the Baylands Nature Preserve startles an egret that was hunting by the path

Burt’s observation that regular bikes (and horses) already pose a problem led to some discussion. He asserted that the existing speed limit of 15 mph is not well communicated and added that it is too high to begin with. He suggested 10 mph and proposed asking City staff to consider making this change and improving signage. Moreover, he suggested the city consider banning bikes (and horses) entirely from some of the narrower or more sensitive trails in the preserves. I heard similar concerns during the Midpen discussion, in which people noted that some preserves (e.g., El Corte de Madero in Redwood City and Rancho San Vicente in San Jose) have become so overrun by bikes that they have become unpleasant for people to walk in, at times seeming more like an outdoor adventure park than a nature preserve.

Councilmembers Julia Lythcott-Haines and Greg Tanaka doubled down on Burt’s observation, stating that since regular bikes and even horses are a problem, it makes more sense to regulate the behavior than the technology. If all trail users were limited to 10 mph, would e-bikes be such a concern? But others pushed back, saying that it is not realistic to rely on enforcement and/or good behavior. Our city doesn’t have enough bandwidth to micromanage trail conduct.

Palo Alto’s paved bike trail connects to Shoreline Park in Mountain View

To my surprise, Tanaka, a cyclist, went on to assert that there is no paved trail extending the length of the Palo Alto section of the Bay, though it has been there for ages. He spent several minutes displaying a map, gesturing at “unpaved” sections, and delineating a 10-mile detour that he said was needed in order to get through Palo Alto to Mountain View. This was not helpful, and it concerned me that Tanaka would make such a claim. Fortunately, City staff set the record straight.

Council was slowly converging on a decision to allow e-bikes only on paved trails. A proposal was drafted to add more e-bike parking at the preserve entrances. But then the discussion took a significant detour.

Councilmember Burt worried that the ban might disadvantage some groups of people, in particular people with disabilities and seniors who might not be able to use a regular bike. Although Palo Alto’s Parks and Recreation Commission worked with several groups as they were formulating this policy, Burt said they should also have consulted with the city’s Human Relations Commission. He proposed that the city set up a streamlined approval process for people with disabilities and seniors so that they can ride e-bikes wherever bikes are allowed in our preserves.

The city’s lawyer pushed back, saying we already streamline a waiver for people with disabilities, as required by law, and there’s not more we can do on that front. A waiver for seniors does not exist, and creating one would carve a gaping hole in the proposed policy. City Manager Ed Shikada said such a process would be a lot of work for staff. He encouraged Council to come to a clearer decision that would require less of city employees.

Cycle-themed artwork decorates Palo Alto’s paved bike trail by the Baylands Nature Preserve

Lythcott-Haines then riffed on Burt’s argument, agreeing with the spirit but arguing that the issue is less one of age than of fitness. She said it’s not seniors so much that would be disadvantaged by a ban on e-bikes, but people of any age who lack fitness. She gave an example of a group of friends who go out for a bike ride in one of our preserves. When they see the “no e-bike” sign, the less fit one with the e-bike is forced to leave the group. Lythcott-Haines added that it can be hard for people to admit they aren’t fit, and an e-bike ban could reveal that to the cyclist's friends. A commenter argued separately that parents who have to carry young children would be disadvantaged if we do not allow e-bikes on unpaved trails, since they might need an e-bike to travel with their load.

These arguments disturbed me. Are people-who-can-ebike-but-not-bike or parents-who-carry-young-children a protected class? And even if they were, does that mean they must have access to every part of a nature preserve? And what exactly is the scope of the city’s Human Relations Commission?

An unpaved road in Palo Alto’s Baylands Nature Preserve

Then there was the argument that e-bikes should be allowed on unpaved roads. If they are able to support trucks, the reasoning goes, then why not e-bikes? Some added a qualifier, saying only wide roads would do, and there was a discussion about whether that was 12 feet or 15 feet. But a sufficiently wide road should be allowed to have bikes on it since the road easily supports much heavier vehicles. Again, this argument made no sense to me. No mention was made about who is driving any trucks on the road, at what speed, or how often, or why that road exists in the first place. The mere presence of a road does not indicate it should be open 24x7 to other vehicles. Moreover, it’s not just vehicle miles traveled that matters, it’s vehicle behavior. E-bikes could go faster, they could go in the rain and dig ruts, they could create spur trails and infringe on habitat. Bikes already do these things. Do we want more of that?

E-bikes are great transportation options, they are a lot of fun to ride, and they help to get people out of cars. But that doesn't mean we should allow them to go everywhere. Our preserves are precious places, and pressure on them is increasing. We all want to get out more, exercise, and enjoy nature. It is restorative, for us. But preserves are intended to nourish and protect wildlife. With habitat shrinking because of development and climate change, we must protect and even expand our preserves. We should balance our needs and desires for access with those of the preserves’ inhabitants. Maybe then the nature we love will be around longer for us to enjoy.

Notes and References
1. This discussion is happening all over. The Washington Post had an interesting op-ed on the topic a few days ago. The author talked with a cyclist about doing a long-distance ride in the Washington trail system. “On a regular bike, the ride takes him half a day. On his e-bike, he can knock it out in a few hours. 'I e-bike to get away from the crowds' on the trail, he told me. And the more we’re getting away from each other, the more we inevitably disturb wildlife.”

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Posted by Bystander, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 5, 2023 at 8:00 am

Bystander is a registered user.

I have walked extensively through the Baylands and often go as far as the cafe at Shoreline. Trying to drive that far would involve being stuck in traffic and take almost as long as walking across the new footbridge which has been designed with bikes in mind. On the bridge and all the way to the cafe, there are bikes speeding along and it matters not whether they are ebikes due to the speed and inconsideration of the riders who consider I am in the way because I am slower than they are. In places it is impossible to talk to a friend as we have to walk single file because of the number of bikes, sometimes a large group of bikes, who spread out so that they can talk to each other.

What I don't get is why ebikes are supposedly worse than pedal bikes. Both are silent, both can be very fast, both are just as likely to ignore traffic rules, and both can be ridden by arrogant groups who are more concerned about their socialization and conversation as they come across a pedestrian who they feel is slow and pass them much too close.

If a bike is ridden by someone who is trying to get to where they are going as fast as possible, it doesn't matter if it has pedal power or electric power. If a group of 6 or more bikes are riding together, they are just as much a nuisance to pedestrians (particularly those with young families) regardless of how they are powered. If someone is training for the Tour de France, they are just as much of a problem as any senior on an assisted ebike who is enjoying looking at the wildlife.

And that doesn't take into account the type of Ebike or the type of paved/unpaved trail.

Posted by staying home, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Mar 6, 2023 at 10:55 am

staying home is a registered user.

"E-bikes could go faster, they could go in the rain and dig ruts, they could create spur trails and infringe on habitat."

over and over again, the argument against bike access is based on the fear of bikes and not the reality of what bike access is actually doing to the parks. Reasonable bike access is all that riders are advocating: use of compacted and flat gravel roads. You really think there is excessive bike use in the rain? Spur trails happen from pedestrians right now.

What about all that noise from the Palo Alto airport? Don't you think that is worse than the noise of bikes? What about the sewer treatment plant? Bixby park is reclaimed landfill, what about the methane pipes? If protecting the wildlife is your #1 concern, then ban pedestrians. I see trash on my walks through the baylands every time. Since a majority of the use of baylands is from pedestrians, it makes sense they are the source of the trash.

Posted by MP_Resident, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows,
on Mar 6, 2023 at 3:51 pm

MP_Resident is a registered user.

Access to the Baylands trails is essential to health and well-being of all residents of the area, whatever their physical abilities. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when all other parks were closed, the Bayland trails provided a remedy for the claustrophobia of being trapped indoors. The need for accessible open space near the Bay is still growing, and it will inevitably impact the Baylands. Sunnyvale is planning 20,000 residential units adjacent to Baylands Park. Redwood City, Mountain View, and East Palo Alto are planning new developments whose residents will want to use the Bay trails. Palo Alto is planning a transitional family housing complex adjacent to Charleston Slough. Closing off the gravel roads to all bicycles would mean that families with young children and those unable to hike far will be crowded into city parks and the few paved trails.

I'm sympathetic to the position that the Baylands are primarily for wildlife, but the reality is that the thousands of new residents will need places to enjoy nature, including by bicycle. There are not enough paved open space trails to meet those needs. There should be a way to support both non-motorized bike riders and the needs of migrating birds. Seasonal closures around selected ponds, trail signs, and speed limits would be a good first step.

Posted by Victor+Bishop, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Mar 6, 2023 at 4:58 pm

Victor+Bishop is a registered user.

So Palo Alto pushes getting out of your car and , for example, riding bikes. Until they don't want you to ride bikes. Clearly Burt and his cronies have found a new vocal group they feel the need to cater too. Welcome to the virtue signalling capital of the world- Palo Alto

Posted by Alan, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Mar 7, 2023 at 9:45 am

Alan is a registered user.

The more people who use the Baylands trails for recreation, the worse the idea of allowing electric bikes; there will be more incidents between these bikes and pedestrians. To me, the main problem will electric bikes is not so much wildlife disruption, but the fact that people tend to ride them way too fast on trails used by pedestrians. You can place speed limits, but I can guarantee some people will disregard them. People simply go faster on them than pedal bikes. I haven't seen the same problem with "pedal assist" bikes, so perhaps they could be considered differently. You can recreate just as much walking, you just don't go as far.

Posted by M, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Mar 7, 2023 at 5:35 pm

M is a registered user.

What the writer doesn't say is that the staff recommendation and council decision was in response to California State law that "prevents cities from restricting access to e-bike riders in places like bicycle paths or trails, bikeways, and bicycle lanes."

The core issue was that the major bike path between Palo Alto and Mountain View, Sunnyvale and beyond runs along one edge of Baylands Park. This is now off limits to ebike commuters, as are long standing bike lanes such as through California Avenue. (Long haul ebike commuters -- get back in your cars!)

If you listen to the comments from the meeting, most were against ebikes, period. They were described as loud, dangerous to pedestrians and out of control everywhere. There is truth to this, but the culprit isn't pedelec (pedal activated) ebikes, but rather the proliferation of electric scooters and mopeds that skirt regulation and safety requirement by putting essentially unused and unusable pedals on them. As the EU recognizes, the former operate like bikes, the latter are small motor cycles. (Pedelec ebikes are encouraged; "twist and go thottle" emopeds and escooters are not.

This distinction didn't matter. No Ebikes of any type on the commuting path.

I just happened on this Council meeting, but I found it deeply anti-bike, and anti-ebike in particular. To me, the meeting painted pretended that the Baylands were overran by ebikes to remove them from the major bike commuting corridor.

And to a large extent, this one-sidedness seemed due to the closed nature of who the city staff consulted and how this evaluation was done.

Having viewed this, as well as the recent Council actions to eliminate another key bike corridor, it is pretty clear where the City stands when it comes to bikes and ebikes being part of our supposed climate goals -- no accommodation.

What Palo Alto dis is exactly what, in the name of climate change, the State of California was trying to discourage cities from doing.

Posted by John Donegan, a resident of another community,
on Mar 8, 2023 at 8:35 am

John Donegan is a registered user.

In treating all ebikes as similar,the writer fails to distinguish between Type 1 ebikes, which provide only a bit of pedal assist, are silent, and are typically ridden no faster than a regular bike, with the more powerful, faster and noisier Type 3, which have a throttle. It is a big difference, especially if you are truly worried about the actual impact, and not just a reactive Ludditte.

Posted by staying home, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Mar 8, 2023 at 10:30 am

staying home is a registered user.

Outta curiosity, I wonder what the incident/accident rate is on the paved paths around Shoreline? Thousands of walkers and bikers interacting, some racing by.

Yeah. Near zero.

Posted by anon1234, a resident of College Terrace,
on Mar 8, 2023 at 10:42 am

anon1234 is a registered user.

Thank you to the writer for this well written and researched article and others she has recently written on environmental issues.
I really appreciate your work !!!

Posted by Deborah, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Mar 8, 2023 at 10:54 am

Deborah is a registered user.

Thanks for the thorough report, Sherri. Seems to me, if the streets were safer for bikes, the ebikers wouldn't be clamoring for access to preserves. Also, you made no mention of the different classes of ebikes. This seems like it is a big part of the problem. A class 1 tops out at 20. A class 3 tops out at 28. Disconnect one wire and the class 2 will go 35. Add to that the escooters that go 30 and you've got one hell of a mash up on trails.

No, there aren't incidents. It's just that too man y bikes make the walking experience miserable.

Posted by ArtL, a resident of Barron Park,
on Mar 8, 2023 at 12:02 pm

ArtL is a registered user.

This was a thoughtful blog, but it missed several points.

-1) First, it seemed clear that the Council Members (Stone, Lauing, Burt, Kou, and Veenker) who voted for the ban and against a PABAC proposal of allowing a trial of e-bikes on the Adobe Creek Loop Trial had never ridden bikes on that trail. This trail, which has bee open for many years to cyclists, is a favorite of mountain cyclists one of whose favorite activity is to ride heavy fat tire bikes on bumpy trails.
Web Link
And a very popular mountain bike feature, the bowl, is alongside the trail. The Adobe Loop Trail not a trail in a quiet Nature Reserve where, as Councilmember Lauing said, he would "stop and focus on a bird or a snake or a bug and my nose is down in the weeds." Also showing that the Council action is out of touch with reality is that e-bikers are allowed on a more peaceful but otherwise almost identical improved unpaved path in the Ravenswood Preserve alongside the Bay of the Open Space District.

-2) Second, the Council did not indicate how the City is going to enforce the ban. The e-bike riders in my senior cycling group will not ride on the unpaved trails in the Baylands or the gravel trail in Arastadero Preserve, but I doubt that a few signs will deter those who are determined to ride their e-bikes at high speed on the improved trails.

Posted by David V, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Mar 8, 2023 at 1:22 pm

David V is a registered user.

The E-bikes tearing up our preserves aren't going to stop because they don't care and are aware there is no enforcement. If you frequent these areas you know the truth of what goes on.....and if you need to camp go to Mitchell Park another place of non-enforcement. As I crossed into Shoreline on a brisk walk the other day I had to yield to a real life huge motorcycle on the trail, the rider had a gun, and a badge! you won't see that here in Palo Alto.

"So Palo Alto pushes getting out of your car and , for example, riding bikes. Until they don't want you to ride bikes. Clearly Burt and his cronies have found a new vocal group they feel the need to cater too. Welcome to the virtue signalling capital of the world- Palo Alto" So true, thanks Victor+Bishop

Posted by KatieG, a resident of Barron Park,
on Mar 8, 2023 at 1:48 pm

KatieG is a registered user.

There is always resistance to change and new technology. What bothers me is when decisions are based on feeling or perceived threat - statements like "she came away feeling that e-bikes would unnecessarily intrude" doesn't sound like valid research. Is there any objective data or evidence that was used to support this decision? Has there been an uptick in collisions between e-bikes and pedestrians? What, if any, damage has occurred as a result of e-bikes riding on the trails? Everything I have read at this point is speculation or opinion, not based on any facts.

Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Mar 8, 2023 at 3:33 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

All, thanks for the excellent comments. First, I want to correct some misinformation that seems to be persisting.

@M says that the major bike path between Palo Alto and Mountain View is now off limits to ebike commuters. That is not true. There is a beautiful, paved commute route that goes along the Bay, open to all bikes. It has been there for decades, and it is still there. I include photos of it in this blog post. I commuted on it for years and loved it and still ride it for recreation. E-bike commuters can and do enjoy this bike trail. It is more direct than any of the circuitous routes through the preserve, and it is beautiful.

@MP_Resident says that Palo Alto has closed off the gravel roads to all bicycles. That is not true. All trails in the preserves remain open to regular bikes.

So, to be clear: The ruling says that e-bikes cannot go on the unpaved trails in Palo Alto’s two nature preserves. That is all. (Though now after the City Council discussion, they are also going to evaluate (all) bikes (and horses) on some narrow trails and speed limits of (all) bikes, staff time permitting.)

Several of you talk about conflicts on paved trails, not just with e-bikes, but with regular bikes going fast, or motorized scooters going fast. The concern here is people-people conflicts, nothing to do with wildlife, and nothing to do with preserves. Just “one hell of a mashup” between modes of transportation on (paved or unpaved) paths and trails that aren’t sufficiently wide. I agree, it’s definitely gotten harder to walk and even bike on some paths, but it’s not really the topic of this post, which is specifically about e-bikes on unpaved trails in preserves. (But if your point is that motorized scooters shouldn’t be allowed on unpaved trails in preserves, I agree, and I’m not entirely sure if those are allowed or not at this point.)

A couple of you suggest more nuanced policies than “no e-bikes”. Examples: speed limits, class 1 vs 3 distinctions, seasonal closures, etc. I think this is a fine thing to bring up, but I don’t agree with it. Simple policies work best, particularly when you have such limited enforcement and when rangers want to have a good relationship with visitors. Can you imagine a response to a speeding ticket on a bike, particularly when many bikes don’t even have speed gauges? Can you imagine a ticket for a Class 2 bike, when the rider has no clue what class bike they have? Palo Alto and its rangers would be ridiculed over this type of enforcement, just as some are ridiculing them for this policy. But that fight would be ongoing and would make life difficult for rangers. There are also issues of technology changing, modified bikes, etc. A simple policy is a better policy. As some of you say, even this simple policy won’t be easy to enforce. We just don’t have bandwidth. But having it is better than not having it.

@MP_Resident says there are lots of new residents in this area and we have to make room for them, even in our preserves. I think that is a reason to be more strict about e-bikes (and bikes) in preserves, not less strict.

@StayingHome and @KatieG both say that fears about e-bikes are just that, fears, and the reality is that there is no problem with e-bikes. No collisions, no damage. I agree with that, there hasn’t been much, as we’ve had little to no e-bike traffic on unpaved trails in our two preserves. So we could either open up our trails to e-bikes and wait and see what happens, then close them if needed. Or do a pilot, because we are interested in allowing e-bikes and want to be sure that nothing bad happens.

I wrote about this some in the context of the Midpen decision. In a sense, there is nothing to pilot. By design, e-bikes enable people to go farther and faster on bikes. That is the sole purpose of an e-bike. So the question is, do we want a lot more bike miles, and bike miles at pace, on our unpaved trails? And the answer is no. The answer is no for many reasons, but one of them is that the alternative is completely acceptable. People can bike. People can walk. The trails remain very accessible. Just no motor assist.

Our preserves and our national and state parks are in the business of limiting access. That sounds weird, but it’s true. We don’t build roads everywhere, we don’t build trails everywhere, we don’t pave every trail, we don’t always allow dogs or horses or bikes or camping or … E-bike access is one of many decisions in this regard, and it is a very easy one imo for our nature preserves. People in aggregate have an unlimited, even rapacious appetite, for nature and open space. Many of our parks and preserves would be overrun without some kind of limits, so we have them. And as @MP_Resident points out, the pressure is increasing as our population grows. In the meantime, wildlife has fewer places to live, and global warming exacerbates that. People will always chafe at limits imposed in our preserves and parks, but these limits are more important every day. And these decisions won’t stop, especially as we keep developing new types of equipment to allow people to go farther and faster. This is an easy one. We should get ready for more.

Finally, @John accuses me of being a “reactive Ludditte (sic)”. I am not sure what the name-calling is supposed to achieve. But it’s true that I don’t think of technology as an unalloyed good, and I don’t think e-bikes should be allowed everywhere. FWIW, I think I’m even more of a Luddite when it comes to smartphones (and ear buds!) for our teens. But that’s not what this blog post is about… Anyway, please refrain from this kind of unnecessary ad hominem remark. It’s not effective, except in the sense that it will cause your comment to disappear.

Posted by Consider Your Options. , a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Mar 8, 2023 at 3:37 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

What I don't get is why e-bikes are worse for wildlife than other bikes or than people walking their dogs on extendable leashes that allow the dog to explore off-trail. Or hikers who wander off-trail into nesting areas. (A lot of them do this.) We're allowing dogs on these trails. I'd argue that they are MORE disruptive to wildlife than e-bikes and may be greater in number--but the city allows that.

There's no data to support the position that e-bikes on wide, flat trails like the Adobe Creek Loop Trail (which is 17 or more feet wide and is functionally a road for service trucks) would disrupt wildlife any more than a hiker or dog would. I have seen birds react to both. The decision to exclude e-bike riders was based on anecdotal evidence, at best.

Posted by Mark, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Mar 8, 2023 at 9:51 pm

Mark is a registered user.

Discrimination comes in all shapes, all manner and all forms--this policy is discriminatory in nature. Disabled people are a protected class--and we certainly do have the right to enjoy our bird sanctuary--every road on it-- just like another person.

All Palo Alto has done here is to allocate more of our tax revenues toward defending a patently discriminatory policy--depriving disabled bikers from enjoying what able-bodied people enjoy. Some of us can't ride a regular bike anymore. So we choose an assistance vehicle to get up out to the sanctuary to enjoy it in or own ways. We should and we will stand together and fight what is wrong. This is wrong.

Web Link

Posted by Greene and Paly Parent, a resident of Professorville,
on Mar 9, 2023 at 12:26 pm

Greene and Paly Parent is a registered user.

It seems that the council completely missed on the use of e-bikes to enhance lost mobility. As others noted, I agree that the consideration needs to be limiting speed (or perhaps riding style?) rather than whether or not the bike happens to have a battery. Anecdotally, my mother loved biking but then into her 70's, her range decreased. Her body was not as reliable and she could no longer get to her favorite trails. An e-bike was an amazing solution -- a regular bike with a small battery that could be turned on when the body fails. The ban on e-bikes is an undue burden, even a discriminatory one, against individuals that want to enjoy nature and the beautiful trails but do not have the physical ability to ride a regular bike.

Posted by KatieG, a resident of Barron Park,
on Mar 9, 2023 at 1:40 pm

KatieG is a registered user.

I appreciate the comments from writers who point out this is a discrimination issue. I am pro-wildlife and pro-fitness whether the means is walking, riding regular bikes, or e-bikes, and admire the seniors and individuals who who have physical limitations who still want to get out and enjoy the abundance of nature and beautiful open space areas we are so fortunate to have here in the Bay Area.

For those who say "well, e-bikes can still be there, just stay on the paved trails" - why should there be a limitation when there is no justification for limiting only e-bikes? Regular bikes, dogs, and people in general pose the same risks to the wildlife, so there is no reason to ban just the e-bike riders. I hope to see this ban overturned.

Posted by Sherry Listgarten, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Mar 9, 2023 at 5:33 pm

Sherry Listgarten is a registered user.

@Mark, the city attorney was crystal clear that the city follows the letter of the law, and is very happy to do so, when it comes to ADA. So I don’t think you’ll have much of a fight.

@Consider: Yes, I agree that dogs can be pretty intrusive, even when they are on leash. As one example, I think their presence has made the coyotes at Windy Hill more aggressive. I sometimes wonder if preserve staff regret allowing them in some places. Same with camping, horses, mountain bikes, etc -- all of these can be pretty high-impact activities. At this point, though, I expect it would be hard to take them away. Either way, I don’t see “Dogs are allowed, so e-bikes should be allowed” as a valid argument, but ymmv.

I think I’ve already addressed the other comments, so … Thanks to everyone for weighing in so thoughtfully. I believe these issues with regard to activities in our nature preserves will continue to come up, so it’s good practice!

Posted by Gerd, a resident of Stanford,
on Mar 13, 2023 at 6:15 pm

Gerd is a registered user.

The letter of the law?
When somebody refers to the 'letter of the law' they usually violate it's spirit, which is exactly what's happening here. Assemblymember Laura Friedman introduced her AB1909 or OmniBike bill to reduce some of the nonsense ebike-discrimination that is still happening against old people and families, but apparently less so against the spandex crowd: Web Link
But exactly those spandex crowd also known as the "strong and confident" urged her to water the bill down and leave more power to local jurisdiction. Believing in the good of the people Laura Friedman changed the bill. But with great power comes great responsibility and of course Palo Alto and their BPAC weren't ready for that. They are using a bill whose spirit was about reducing discrimination and go strictly by the "letter of the law" instead.

Dear readers, if you are surprised the author of this article, who usually poses as a "climate activist" or "avid cyclist" would promote an Ebike ban - don't be.
A lot of American "climate activists" or "avid cyclists" pose as such but clearly are not. A lot of the "strong and confident" cyclists in America have been out and about discriminating against the All-Ages-All-Abilities at least since the 1970s. In cycling circles Palo Alto is infamous for two "bicycle advocates" named John Forester and Ellen Fletcher and constructs like "vehicular cycling" and "bicycle boulevards". These constructs are all about "only the strong survive" and real bicycle advocates - the ones that use research, data, best practices - regard them as discriminating and anti-climate.
"US Bicycle Capital" Davis, CA started real bicycle promotion in the 60s and 70s and used bike lanes. Palo Alto however promoted "vehicular cycling" instead. Long story short, along the way Davis reached bike mode shares of 25%-30% - whereas Palo Alto's decreased from 10% in 1980 to 5.8% by 1990.
thanks to Palo Alto Bicycle Advocacy like this.

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