Take It Slow

E-bikes (including rentals) are becoming more popular, but remain illegal to ride with the motor engaged on the Rec Trail.

E-bikes are very good for Joaquin Sullivan’s Pacific Grove bike rental and tour business, Big Sur Adventures. They’ve outstripped regular bike rentals as the ride of choice, especially for the over-55 crowd. E-bike tours are also surging, with two tours a day – the 17-Mile-Drive Tour and the Big Little Lies Tour – leading groups of between two and 12 riders from the American Tin Cannery to Lovers Point and beyond.

With the rise of e-bikes comes a rise in pedestrians complaining of e-bikes going too fast on the Rec Trail. City ordinances prohibit any motorized vehicles in parks, which includes the Rec Trail.

After the city received complaints this spring about near-miss incidents – one accident involving an E-bike rider and  a pedestrian occurred June 25 – companies were sent letters advising them of the prohibition, says Pacific Grove Police Chief Cathy Madalone. She also contacted them by phone to personally ask that they direct customers to pedal only – with no power boost – on the trail or take the bikes to the street, where using motors is allowed.

“That sounded like a very reasonable request,” Sullivan says. He worries, however, that there is a greater risk of cyclists getting hit by vehicles. He calls the one-mile stretch along Ocean View Boulevard between Hopkins Marine Station and Lovers Point, often crowded with parked cars and slow-driving tourists, a “death trap” for inexperienced riders.

Madalone says the issue will go to the Traffic Safety Commission, possibly Aug. 27, followed by a community meeting to solicit ideas for possible new ordinances to bring to the City Council later.

“We want to come up with a resolution that will suit everybody in the community,” she says, noting business owners are receptive to a compromise.

Editor's Note: The print version stated there had been no E-bike accidents on the Rec Trail reported, based on information provided by the Pacific Grove Police Department. After the Weekly was published, the department provided new information about an accident on June 25 between an E-bike rider and a pedestrian. The online version has been updated to reflect that information.

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Pam Marino joined the Monterey County Weekly in November 2016. She covers the communities of Carmel, Pacific Grove, Del Rey Oaks, Pebble Beach and North County. She also covers tourism, health, housing and homelessness, business and agriculture.

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