The plan calls for a six-month trial period, on hard-surface trails only, running from June 1 to December 1, with an option to extend the program.
If approved at the May 9 meeting, the pilot would evaluate use of these personal transportation vehicles on the trails, whether they should be allowed permanently and, if so, how to best to integrate e-bikes/e-scooters into the trail system.
The pilot would only permit Class I e-bikes (which typically have a maximum speed of 20 mph), and e-scooters (which have a maximum speed of 25 mph) that operate by rechargeable battery. Class I e-bikes users can engage the electric power only when they are pedaling.
Throttle-assisted or gasoline-powered bikes would not be permitted, nor would “self-balanced” scooters, typically known as hover boards.
The pilot would have two phases; the first would include personally owned e-bikes/e-scooters, and phase two would add e-bikes/e-scooters rented from commercial companies.
“E-bikes and e-scooters are here, so we need to learn more about how they can be used on park trails in a way that is safe for all trail users,” said Michael Riley, director of Montgomery Parks, in a press release. “This pilot program will enable us to observe their use, collect data and public input, and determine our next steps.”
The hard-surface trails proposed in the plan are:
- Rock Creek Trail
- Sligo Creek Trail (up until the Prince Georges County line)
- Matthew Henson Trail
- Long Branch Trail
- Northwest Branch Trail (paved portion south of I-495, up until the Prince Georges County line).
The public can submit questions or comments to the Planning Board by email at [email protected], or postal mail to Casey Anderson, Chair, Montgomery County Planning Board, 8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD 20910, or by fax to the chair at 301.495.1320.
If the program is approved, the department will set up an open town hall online for public input. In addition, comments then could be submitted to Charles Kines, Project Manager, 9500 Brunett Ave., Silver Spring, MD 20901, or by email at [email protected] .
Map of trails proposed for the pilot program from Montgomery Parks.