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E-bikes to face speed limits on popular Seattle trails

The Burke-Gilman and Elliot Bay Trails are just a few trails where electric bikes will have to stay under 15 miles per hour.

E-bike riders will have to watch their speeds on five popular local trails under a new pilot program announced by the Seattle Parks Department.

Electric bikes must stay under 15 miles per hour on the Burke-Gilman Trail, Elliot Bay Trail, Mountains to Sound Trail, Melrose Connector Trail and Duwamish Trail.

It's still one of the best ways to beat the traffic. But with the expansion of bikeshare rides, both e-bike and regular, and the already large number of city bikers, trails are getting hectic for riders.

“There are lots of e-bikes and they definitely go pretty fast,” Galen Erickson said.

There was a time when few cyclists would use e-bikes. These days they're reaching new audiences. But with expansion comes growing pains.

“I think e-bikes, in general, are great; it's getting people out on bikes and that's fantastic. My mom is 65 years old and she rides 30 miles a day on an e-bike, she wouldn't be able to do that on a regular bike,” Erickson said.

A new state law classified e-bikes into three classes. Only class one and two will be allowed on trails, those are the ones that stop assisting riders at 20 miles per hour.

“I've ridden a few and they go pretty fast you can definitely cruise pretty fast it's almost car speed," Erickson said.

The parks department said enforcement would be complaint-driven and done by Seattle Police. Still, whenever it comes to bikes, there are those who say fewer regulations are better.

One rider said it’s important to keep people riding, “There's already a transportation issue with this city, so if people want to use bikes and they want to use bikes and go 20 instead of 15 and they want to use the trail as an alternate form of transportation; I'm all for it because traffic's a nightmare.”

The public is invited to participate in an online survey.