As E-Bikes and electric scooters increase in popularity, some Greenbelt regulars are concerned about the trend.
BOISE, Idaho — There’s no race. In fact, none of it is coordinated.
But pelotons still take shape, and share a trip through nature alongside pedestrians, including along one of the city’s gems, the Greenbelt.
“The usage has definitely gone up over the years,” said City of Boise Director of Parks and Recreation Doug Holloway. “But you really are looking at that 90-10 rule, where 90% of the people are following the rules, versus that 10% that may not.
The Greenbelt is governed by common courtesy, but the city has explicitly outlined a few rules.
Fast traffic should pass slow traffic on the left. Slow traffic should keep right. When passing, it’s customary to notify the slower person with a shout or bell ring.
“People are usually pretty respectful and courteous when they use it,” regular Greenbelt user Lindsay Stenshoel said.
This system has served as the backbone of the Greenbelt for decades, but Holloway acknowledges there can be issues.
As electric bikes (e-bikes) and scooters increase I popularity throughout the city, many people are quick to cite the electric users as the 10%.
“Some people have gotten a little fast on the motorized options,” Stenshoel said. “So that’s what I worry about when I’m out with my kids. Making sure they’re safe and not getting clipped [by an e-biker] around a corner.”
All Greenbelt users should adhere to a 20 mile-per-hour speed limit, according to Holloway, but the people breaking that limit come from both sides of the aisle.
“There is a perception out there that because it is motorized, they go a lot faster and they’re more out of control. We just ask those that use scooters or e-bikes to follow the same etiquette that we’re asking everyone else to follow on the greenbelt. And for the most part, they’re doing that,” Holloway said.
The City of Boise even encourages e-bikes to a certain degree. That’s because some people need them to enjoy the Greenbelt as any other would with a regular bike.
Larry Nelson, for example, lives in McCall. He makes the trip to Boise often through the spring and fall months.
“I’m ready for the snow to be gone, and I just want to go on a nice bike ride,” Nelson said.
But at his age – 76 going on 77 – a regular pedal is hard to push. An e-bike gives Nelson the help he needs on inclined paths and trails.
“It’s a life saver. I ride every day,” Nelson said. “At my age, I need exercise. What happens if I go to the gym – I’m there for 30 minutes and I’m done. I mean, I might stay and lift a few weights. But if I go out for a bike ride, I might be out for half a day.”
It’s important to know, these e-bikes cannot go everywhere in the City of Trees. Several agencies overseeing trails in the foothills still consider e-bikes a ‘motorized vehicle,’ according to Holloway. Therefore, e-bikes are not allowed.
“Which is like saying you can ride any trail that’s not fun. Well, I wanted to have fun,” Nelson said.
Nelson can still have his fun in foothills. But he first needs to get a permit with the City of Boise Department of Parks and Recreation. This permit is for an accommodation – whether that be for disability or age.
“We are trying to create a city for everyone, which means inclusions in all the facilities and activities we have. Adding e-bike use to those facilities does help us with meeting that goal of total inclusion. That makes a big difference for those who can go out and enjoy the greenbelt versus those who can’t,” Holloway said.
This permit only allows e-bike use on a few trails in the foothills overseen by the City of Boise.