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Restored railroad bridge over the Dan River.
Restored railroad bridge over the Dan River.

Trail Etiquette for E-bikes

Danville's Riverwalk trail system, which follows the course of the lovely Dan River in Virginia, is popular with walks, runners, and cyclists. Electric bicycle advocate Don Gerhardt proposes a set of rules of etiquette for e-bike riders that use the trail, rules that can be applied to other trail systems.

Don Gerhardt can talk your ear off if you let him. I didl, but I don't regret it. He's a fountain of information about electric vehicle technology and last week I spent two hours with him chatting via Skype video. He's involved in a panoply of activities from teaching himself how to weld and building his own customized recumbent three-wheeled, electric-assist bicycle, to designing the curriculum for the first electric bicycle technicians course, which is offered at Danville Community College, in Danville, Virginia.

It's that connection that led to our discussion about rules of etiquette for operating an electric-assist bicycle on the city's beautiful 8.5 Riverwalk trail system along the banks of the Dan River. I asked him to share the rules with me, but before I do, it might be helpful to define what is an electric-assist bicycle by U.S. government regulation. Here's what Don wrote:

The definition of an E-Bike used in this recommendation is a low-speed electric bicycle defined by the USA Congress Public Law 107-319. It is a consumer product and not considered as a motor vehicle. It must have fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.). The maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph.

He adds the following recommendations are for normal bike trails. He's working on a similar set from mountain bike trails.

Danville Riverwalk E-Bike Etiquette

• Wear a helmet
• Do not ride side by side
• Maintain a minimum of 25 feet behind the bike in front of you
• Move your bike off the side of the trail if you stop
• Walk your bike up and down access ramps
• Signal with voice or bell when passing
• Stop and move your bike off the side of the trail if horses are passing
• Do not use electric assist on level and downhill grades if people are visible on the trail
• Do not exceed 12 mph up hills if people are visible on the trail
• Do not use electric assist if children less than 12 years old or pets are within 100 feet of you

Posted By: Bill Moore [23-Jul-2013]