Wildlife officials have gotten thousands of responses to a survey focusing on use of e-bikes on natural surface trails.

ISSAQUAH, Wash. — The use of electric bikes is surging, so much so that state lawmakers and wildlife officials are studying their impacts on trails and where they should be allowed.

Most days, you’ll find Mathew Rzucidlo hitting the trails at Duthie Park, and now it’s not just fellow mountain bikers he’s sharing the trail with.

“The problem with e-bikes is you see people ripping around trails and it’s basically a motorbike at that point and they need to ride somewhere else, but as long as people are courteous and they share the bike park I have no problem with e-bikes at all,” said Rzucidlo.

People like Rzucidlo are exactly who the Washington Department Fish and Wildlife and DNR wanted to hear from as part of a survey looking at the use of e-bikes on natural surface trails.

“We’ve already had like 7,000 respondents to that survey, and our public meetings, we had at least 120 people at each of those,” said Heide Anderson, recreation planner for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Legislation passed last year in Olympia also directs wildlife officials to get input from several groups, including tribal leaders and the disabled community.

“E-bikes really provide a way for a lot of people to access trails and public lands that might not otherwise be able to,” said Anderson.

There are concerns about more use on public lands when it comes to wildlife, soil, and water resources.

“Our biggest mission is to protect the wildlife resources out there and so trying to balance now the two is very important to us,” said Anderson.

The survey wrapped up Friday, and now wildlife officials have until the end of September to get a report to lawmakers.

“We want to think about where are the best places to use them,” said state Sen. Marko Liias, the chair of the senate’s Transportation Committee.

The next step is policy. Officials hope the study will give clear rules and regulations on when and where e-bikes can be used.

“We don’t want to have folks come too fast on trails where that’s not safe we want to make sure they have the right kind of bike for the right kind of trail. That’s part of what the department’s doing is just thinking through those details.,” said Sen. Liias

The main goal is to get more folks outside.

“Ultimately, we want people to be there enjoying it, and using these facilities using our state lands to enjoy the outdoors, especially right now when it’s so beautiful,” said Sen. Liias.

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