There’s a new bike on the block, and soon it will be on the rail trail–at least in Hellertown–after borough council Monday approved a change to the rules regarding the use of motorized vehicles on the popular pathway to allow for eBikes.
The approved change in effect creates an exception for a single type of eBike on the trail, where there has been a prohibition on the use of all motorized vehicles since the first bicyclists pedaled down it in 2011.
Saucon Valley Bikes owner Steve LaBrake–who also serves as president of the Saucon Rail Trail Oversight Commission–brought the use of A Class 1 eBikes on the trail to council’s attention, and displayed an example of one with him at the meeting.
Unlike gas-powered, bicycles eBikes are silent, because they utilize an electric assist motor, he said.
The bikes have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph, and they also lack throttle.
“You must be pedaling,” LaBrake said. “(An eBike) adds additional power to your pedals. When you stop pedaling, it no longer adds power and slows down.”
In an email, LaBrake also noted that eBikes can open up opportunities for exercise to individuals who otherwise might not be able to do so.
“I believe that these bikes are a useful tool to the elderly and the handicapped that may need exercise, but (do) not have the strength to ride a bike normally under their own power,” he said, adding that “you will of course have younger healthier adults using them as well.”
According to LaBrake, the three classifications of eBikes are as follows:
- Class 1: eBikes that are pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph
- Class 2: eBikes that also have a maximum speed of 20 mph, but are throttle-assisted
- Class 3: eBikes that are pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and a maximum assisted speed of 28 mph
The Saucon Rail Trail Oversight Commission hopes to change the prohibition on motorized vehicles to allow for A Class 1 eBikes from the other municipalities through which the rail trail passes, including Lower Saucon Township, Upper Saucon Township and Coopersburg borough.
LaBrake said eBikes can be rented or purchased at Saucon Valley Bikes in Hellertown.