The City of Windsor transportation committee – which is comprised of five city councilors – voted to accept municipal administration’s recommendation to ban e-bikes from multi-use trails. Before they are banned from multi-use trails citywide, city council as a whole will still need to vote on the matter sometime in the upcoming months.
“There was a proposal that came before the [committee] … and the recommendation from administration was to ban e-bikes from multi-use trails and parks and basically kick them to the curb.” said city councilor Alan Halberstadt.
Halberstadt, who opposed the motion as he thought it to be too severe, explained that at the meeting a police officer reported that in 2012 there were no incidents or collisions between e-bikes and pedestrians whereas there were 13 collisions involving e-bikes and motor vehicles – including one fatality and a number of injuries.
“The argument was that e-bikes, compared to a pedestrian, the e-bike is quite heavy, which is quite true,” stated Halberstadt, “If you want to compare weight, the e-bike compared to a semi .. or a normal car, it’s a huge discrepancy. When e-bikes are hit, they can explode.”
Jeff Mills was driving his e-bike down the Riverside Drive multi-use trail and explained that he often is afraid to drive on the road because “the drivers don’t respect anything on the road other than cars”.
“They all just drive aggressively and make it dangerous. Who would want to ride on the road and potentially get killed?” said Mills.
Halberstadt believes that the municipality should try to find a common ground and provide some off street multi-use paths for e-bike riders.
“The number of e-bikes in North America is just going to explode over the next number of years,” commented Halberstadt, “a lot of people these days, they can’t afford cars, some people don’t want them … it’s a much more affordable way to get around town.”
According to Halberstadt, the report to the committee last night indicated that if current multi-use trails were 18-feet wide then e-bikes could operate on them as there would be adequate space. However, to convert the roughly 30km of existing trails to 18-feet would cost roughly $7.5million, whereas to create dedicated lanes for e-bikes in the parks system would cost over $3-million.
“We only spend about $400,000 a year on bicycle networks on the streets … if we’re going to accommodate everyone in the city other than cars, then we’re going to have to spend some money on it and this decision isn’t going to cause that to happen.” said Halberstadt who doesn’t believe that city council has the appetite to spend money on alternative means of transportation.
“I don’t think this council has the appetite to spend money on alternative transportation or any significant amount of money,” said Halberstadt, “they’ll spend some token money on it, but significant amounts? I don’t think this council has the appetite to do it.”
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.