Bike Crashes are on the Rise and E-Bikes are Partly to Blame
"Pitkin County Open Space and Trails rangers have reported 110 bike and e-bike crashes on OST properties since 2016. Twenty-six of those involved e-bikes, according to an analysis by Aspen Journalism." -Laurine Lassalle (Aspen Journalism)
Lassalle, L. (2021, December 10). Aspen area seeing a rise in bike crashes — and an increasing portion are with e-bikes. The Colorado Sun. Aspen Journalism. Retrieved from https://coloradosun.com/2021/12/10/aspen-bike-crashes-injuries/
Mountain towns and communities are seeing a significant rise in bike crashes with more and more people entering trauma centers with bike-related injuries. A few different factors could be contributing to this, but studies out of Aspen indicate that e-bikes are largely to blame for these statistics. Over the last couple of years, the popularity of e-biking has exploded in mountain towns throughout the west and local communities are struggling with how to regulate it. Stated in the article posted above, “E-bikes are attractive because the user may travel farther faster and with moderate ease." E-bikes allow a variety of people the opportunity to get out on trails, but a high majority are inexperienced riders. Based on studies from the Aspen Valley Hospital and Aspen Open Space Trails, almost a quarter of reported bike crashes in the Aspen area from 2016 to 2021 have been e-bike related. This is largely due to the accessibility and ease of getting places on an e-bike without the understanding or experience of riding back down. Mountain biking is a fairly technical sport that demands sound judgment, experience, and attention. When inexperienced people are able to get to fairly technical places with speed and ease that spells trouble for them and potentially those around them. Not to mention that e-bikes are also heavier and faster than the non-electric alternative making them much more difficult to handle. Of course, there is a place for e-bikes. They allow the older population who may not be able to ride regular mountain bikes anymore the opportunity to still get out and enjoy the trails. They also provide an opportunity for inexperienced riders to try the sport without the extreme physical component of riding uphill manually. There are a lot of pros and cons to e-biking and tons of factors need to be weighed out to properly regulate and accommodate them on our trail systems.