Palo Alto backs e-bike ban on Baylands trails | March 3, 2023 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - March 3, 2023

Palo Alto backs e-bike ban on Baylands trails

In choosing a cautious approach, city sides with conservationists over bike advocates

by Gennady Sheyner

Bicycling is serious business in Palo Alto, where elected leaders often take great pride in the city's new bike bridge, its growing network of bike boulevards and its high rate of students who bike to school.

But on Monday, the City Council defied calls from some of the city's leading bicycle advocates as it voted to prohibit e-bikes on unpaved paths in the city's open space preserves, including the Baylands. By a 5-2 vote, with council members Julie Lythcott-Haims and Greg Tanaka dissenting, the council also asked staff to explore restrictions on bicycling in sensitive areas in the Arastradero Preserve and the Baylands.

The council vote followed a long debate that placed the city's green values on a collision course. Some argued that the city should be encouraging all kinds of bicycling, including e-bikes, to meet its sustainability goals. Others suggested that the city steer e-bikes away from the Baylands, where their speed and noise could interfere with sensitive critters like the salt marsh harvest mouse and the Ridgway's rail.

Members of the city's advisory group, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Commission (PABAC), were squarely in the former camp. They agreed with the city's plan to prohibit e-bikes in most preserves but argued that the Baylands should be treated differently because it serves as a connector for regional bike routes and because some of its unpaved paths — including the popular Adobe Creek Loop Trail — are wide enough to accommodate trucks.

"Given that these roads are designed for much heavier vehicles, it is unlikely e-bikes will impact these roads more than trucks," said Penny Ellson, a longtime bike advocate who serves on PABAC. "Please consider the needs of aging people who want to stay active and parents who carry young children on e-bikes, who say that the proposed ban will prevent them from enjoying bicycling in the Baylands."

Resident Mark Shull said he used to ride his bicycle through the open space preserves, all the way to Skyline Boulevard. But at 67 years old, his knees aren't what they were when he was younger, Shull told the council. He now relies on e-bikes to climb hills, and he can't understand why the council is taking aim at imposing new restrictions.

"A lot of us are trying to use e-bikes instead of cars," Shull said. "I think that the city should support that and, yes, people do use some of the trails for commuting for good reason — because there's no alternative."

Lythcott-Haims and Tanaka both supported his position and urged their colleagues to allow more lenient rules. Lythcott-Haims suggested allowing e-bikes at both Arastradero Preserve and the Baylands and setting a speed limit of 10 mph, though her motion to explore that policy failed to advance.

While her colleagues argued that a speed limit on bikes would be nearly impossible to enforce, Lythcott-Haims suggested that education and enforcement would be a more effective approach than an outright ban.

"My feeling is if the fee is high and the park rangers do spot checks, we can deter the worst offenders," Lythcott-Haims said.

Tanaka, an avid cyclist, suggested that e-bikes are a key tool for getting people out of cars and helping the city meet its goal of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. He said he recently installed a motor on his old bike, which he regularly uses to get to Milpitas. Because a portion of the trail is unpaved, e-bicyclists will have to either switch to cars or take a street route that would add more than 10 miles to their two-way trips.

"By doing this you may be cutting off people who may be biking from Milpitas ... or people who are biking from other areas that are to the east of us," Tanaka said. "What we're doing is going to create more traffic in our streets, more parking problems, more greenhouse gas. So I just think we need to think about this carefully."

Prompted by state law

The policy change was prompted by Assembly Bill 1909, a state law that took effect at the beginning of this year and that established that all classes of e-bikes are now allowed on all trails unless prohibited by a local ordinance. This includes some of the more powerful e-bikes in the Class 3 category, which according to staff can help riders reach speeds of up to 28 mph. Palo Alto has historically allowed e-bikes on paved roads and trails but not on unpaved ones.

To address the new legal landscape, the Parks and Recreation Commission debated the new e-biking policy over a series of meetings last fall, ultimately opting to adopt a broad ban on e-bikes of all classes at open space preserves, including Arastradero Preserve and the Baylands. (The Foothills Natural Preserve already bans bikes of all sorts.)

Commission Chair Jeff Greenfield, who led the effort, said that the discussion inevitably led to "genuine passionate support for competing priorities, like transportation corridors versus enjoyment of nature, community recreation versus habitat and wildlife protection."

"At this point, the benefit of the doubt is given to preserving this true city treasure," Greenfield said, referring to the Baylands.

Most of Tanaka's colleagues didn't buy the argument that the e-bike ban would deter commuting cyclists, particularly after city staff noted that even with the new policies, they will still have the option of taking paved trails from East Palo Alto through Palo Alto and into Mountain View. Greenfield said the idea of keeping a Bay Trail commuter open to e-bike commuters was very important to the commission and said the shortest path on the regional trail remains open to e-bikes.

The council ultimately agreed with his commission's recommendation, which prioritized habitat protection over accommodation for e-bikes. Matthew Dodder, executive director of the Santa Clara Valley Audubon Society, was part of a group of environmentalist leaders who suggested that having louder and faster bikes in the Baylands could disrupt sensitive habitats. Areas like Byxbee Park and the Mayfield Slough, he said, support a wide range of species, including winter and burrowing owls, many species of hawks, migrant geese and waterfowl.

Many of these species may be "displaced by fast-moving motorized bikes interfering with their foraging and/or breeding cycles," Dodder said.

"These areas want a quieter and more relaxed pace," Dodder said.

Some bike advocates took issue with the idea that e-bikes would disturb wildlife and noted that there haven't been any credible studies that substantiate that claim. Yet this very uncertainty only further encouraged the council to adopt a more conservative direction. Council member Ed Lauing said the lack of information is a good reason to proceed slowly.

"We shouldn't just say, 'What the heck let's put bikes out there.' I say, 'What the heck, let's just go ahead and have critters out there and people out there and let's do some more study,'" Lauing said.

He and most of his colleagues agreed that the primary function of the Baylands is as a nature preserve and that its habitat should be protected, even if that means forcing bicyclists to take different routes. Lauing noted that bicyclists would still be able to ride on the paved roads in and around the Baylands.

"Sometimes hikers like myself stop and focus on a bird or a snake or a bug and my nose is down in the weeds," Lauing said. "If someone comes through on a big, heavy bike, that will disrupt everything. Maybe the critter runs away; maybe I run away because I'm getting out of the way of the bike. Any bike zooming by disrupts this fundamental reason for being out there for people, quite apart from what it does to the critters."

While they agreed that speed limits may be helpful, council members doubted that they would be enforced. Council member Vicki Veenker and Vice Mayor Greer Stone both suggested that e-bike riders will be tempted to go faster than the current speed limit of 15 mph.

"Those things can really fly," Stone said. "When you let that throttle go, it's a great time. I can't imagine, being out there in the Baylands, anyone would really want to pull back on that. I don't see that as a realistic possibility here."

The speed issue, however, isn't limited to e-bikes. Council member Pat Burt, a longtime cyclist, urged his colleague to support new policies that would apply to all bicycles and that would limit speeds to 10 mph open space areas and restrict bicycle and horse access altogether on sensitive single-track trails in the Arastradero Preserve. Once updated, the regulations could potentially pave the way for allowing Class-1 e-bikes to return to the open space areas.

"I think 20 mph is too fast for any bike that we have in these open space areas," Burt said.

Email Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner [email protected]


Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2023 at 7:00 am

felix is a registered user.

Good decision. Thank you Council and PRC.
Council Member Lauing was especially articulate.
Critters first, and good to slow down.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2023 at 8:00 am

Bystander is a registered user.

E bikes are no worse than pedal bikes. Pedal bikes can be just as quiet, just as fast, just as dangerous, just as much as a hazard. This makes no sense whatsoever. Ban all bikes if you must, but it matters not whether it is pedal power or battery power.

Additionally, when EVs in general are being touted, this is discriminatory.

Virtue signaling comes to mind.

Posted by azr
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 28, 2023 at 8:30 am

azr is a registered user.

Great debate, thoughtful arguments on both sides and solid work from the PRC and PABAC and Mr. Anderson. I agree - let's leave electric bikes out of the Baylands, and let pedestrians (the majority of users) and bicyclists (a few) quietly enjoy the water fowl and scurrying land animals in their natural habitat. Encouraging e-bikes in Palo Alto is important, for transportation and carrying/delivering, and luckily, there are lots of places with paved paths for electric biking for pleasure in town so that we can retain some areas free of them.

Posted by John Donegan
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2023 at 8:43 am

John Donegan is a registered user.

I still don't understand why Type 1 (pedal assist) e-bikes are prohibited. Mine is silent (except perhaps for my panting and wheezing), not much heavier than many regular bikes, and not typically ridden at a higher speed than regular bikes. They just help with hills. They shouldn't be confused with the fully-powered e-bike (with a throttle) which appear to be what the opponents are visualizing in their comments.

Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 28, 2023 at 8:49 am

ALB is a registered user.

Yes the city council made the right decision last night. Ed Lauing was a star. His argument for keeping the Baylands free of electric bikes was outstanding. This nature preserve was never designed to be a commuter track near the bay. Humans and wildlife won last night. The Baylands nature preserve provides an environment that is not only educational but improves mental health. Thank you city council for this important vote. Thank you to PRC for your dedication and research in examing this issue.

Posted by RPopp
a resident of Monroe Park
on Feb 28, 2023 at 10:30 am

RPopp is a registered user.

Once again, Palo Alto over-reaches and creates regulations that are in conflict with general standards that are already in place elsewhere. The National Park Service adopted General Provisions for Electric Bicycles in late 2020, and they are currently enforced in at least 380 parks. "Consistent with the Secretary's Order and the Policy Memorandum, this rule states that e-bikes may be allowed on roads, parking areas, administrative roads and trails that are open to traditional bicycles." Without a fully substantiated report that defines the impact, the action taken by the majority last night is just a subjective restriction that is emotional, not logical. Here's the link to the Rule: Web Link

Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 28, 2023 at 11:19 am

Resident is a registered user.

The headline should be updated to state "unpaved" because that is all this was. Commuters can still e-bike on paved trails all the way to Google. I agree that pedal assist is quieter and less egregious than attaching a motor to your bike, however for off-road trails, which are often narrow and used by hikers and birdwatchers, it makes sense to disallow speedier electric bikes. It would be a slippery slope to electric powered motocross.

Posted by Eva_PA
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 28, 2023 at 11:20 am

Eva_PA is a registered user.

Hmmmm...I ride my eBike to Shoreline for concerts. There are no pedestrians at that time of day. Riding to Shoreline is a practical way to get cars off the road to concerts. I wonder if it's possible to allow eBikes at night.

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2023 at 11:35 am

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Exactly how will the city "study impacts of e-bikes" when Council just opted to ban them before any study could be done? This seems like a red herring. There is zero data to support this decision. Other cities will likely follow Palo Alto. There may never be data from other cities' experiments. Staff made a recommendation that is easy for them to implement, and Council supported their preference not to do the work. I wish they had at least supported a limited study of e-bikes on the Adobe Creek Loop trail which is wider than 17' and carries trucks. I'm fine with eliminating e-bikes from narrower, more sensitive trails. It's excessive to ban them from unpaved service truck ROADS that are called trails.

Posted by Eva_PA
a resident of Ventura
on Feb 28, 2023 at 11:50 am

Eva_PA is a registered user.

Just looking at the map I guess I'll still be legal to ride my eBike to Shoreline Amphitheater at night to concerts since my route doesn't enter Palo Alto. Hopefully Mt. View doesn't follow suit.

Posted by Steve
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 28, 2023 at 12:02 pm

Steve is a registered user.

I disagree with this ban, especially in the baylands. Modern e-bikes are just as quiet as regular bikes nowadays. A speed-limit would have been a better option.

Anyway, the problem will solve itself because, soon, e-bikes will be indistinguishable from regular bikes, except for speed. Good luck on enforcing when that happens!

Posted by David V
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 28, 2023 at 12:06 pm

David V is a registered user.

We don't enforce our codes so this is absolutely meaningless, I'll ride an e-bike while smoking, leaf blowing and relieving myself, then I'll pass out on the street after getting drunk on shoplifted rum....legislate away, whatever fuels the EGO.

Posted by TR
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 28, 2023 at 1:24 pm

TR is a registered user.

Ahh the great Palo Alto Process in action once again. If anybody whines, ban the new thing "out of an abundance of caution".

1) Poor distinction about types of ebikes. They are NOT all the same. Pedal assist, Class 1 ebikes should NOT be treated any differently than an 'analogue' bike. They are only usable by pedaling. No throttle and they cannot be e-ridden past 20 mph. These are what most ebikes are. Do not confuse them with Class 2 and 3 which can have a throttle and be ridden passively or even Class 3 which can go faster. A Class 1 ebike is not heavier, nor faster than a pedal bike.

2) 10-20 foot wide packed gravel paths in the Baylands are NOT wilderness. Hundreds if not thousands of people walk along these paths every day making 'noise' and 'disturbing' the environment. Many of these people are even on wheeled transport. The PA Baylands have few to no narrow or wild trails and these could easily be signed off if need be.

3) The paths in the Baylands are either paved (ok, still allowed for now but why not ban that too) or packed gravel capable of motor vehicle traffic (and used by the rangers that way). How is an ebike (that weighs irrelevantly more than a non-ebike) going to cause an issue again?

4) Noise? Really? Is this REALLY being used as an argument? Has anyone there actually ridden an ebike or been near one? Yes, SOME make a small whirring or gear noise. Operative word, small. But most are effectively silent from more than a few feet away. The sound of feet on gravel can be louder and both are smothered by the sound of the wind most days out there.

5) Speed. This is the ONLY argument that has ANY merit. Typical pedal bikers ride 8-12mph out there. Ebikers might average up to the EXISTING limit of 15 mph. But all CAN ride to the technical e-assist limit of 20mph. If speed is the issue, educate and enforce this.

For the record, I have no horse or ebike in this race. I ride a pedal bike and walk there. But this mindset of fearing the new is bad

Posted by Tod
a resident of Green Acres
on Feb 28, 2023 at 1:35 pm

Tod is a registered user.

everything wrong with palo alto...can't wait to get my first sad...such a false dichotomy... first a supposed threat to wildfire when in reality it is a great way to range out there in large long trails....then that a speed limit is unefforceable so we have to contravene state law's intent. shane on each councilor....classic vested interests canceling and calling it caution...

Posted by KatieG
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2023 at 1:45 pm

KatieG is a registered user.

I strongly disagree with this ban and wonder if the Council really understands how a class 1 pedal assisted e-bike works. It is not any noisier than a regular bike and speed can be an issue with any bike, with or without a motor. I've encountered road bicyclists who go too fast. This makes no sense at all, I hope there is enough pushback that this can be reconsidered. Educate people on bike etiquette instead of banning certain bikes.

Posted by Annie B
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 28, 2023 at 3:35 pm

Annie B is a registered user.

I strongly disagree with this ban. You are making it so disabled, and older bikers cannot ride in the baylands. E-bikes are quieter than dogs. They could weigh about the same as a mechanical bike, but for people who have bad knees they are the only way to get around. Are we also banning electric wheelchairs? It is a real swipe at the old and disabled. I guess PA only wants the young and healthy to be able to enjoy the baylands.

Posted by staying home
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 28, 2023 at 3:44 pm

staying home is a registered user.

Ban is dumb, but honestly, who is going to enforce it? I look forward to the opinion blogs on how our parks have become overrun with illegal ebikes.

Posted by J Franco
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 28, 2023 at 4:04 pm

J Franco is a registered user.

Yup. Dumb and wrong. It was hard to watch. Sloppy all around and not short on the theatrics. Only a couple people there at City Council care and are thoughtful.

Posted by Evergreen Park Observer
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Feb 28, 2023 at 4:48 pm

Evergreen Park Observer is a registered user.

Thank you, Ed Lauing and the majority of the City Council. Thank you for preserving at least ONE place where people can go out to walk, enjoy nature, and not have a motorized vehicle whizzing past. Bike people already rule all over Palo Alto. There are plenty of places to ride your motorized vehicle. Nice to have at least one place that is mostly for pedestrians. I would be happy to ban all bicycles. Bike people think they are superior to cars - and maybe they are. I don't think they are superior to pedestrians. I have been almost run down by bicyclists while walking in my neighborhood because they don't look when they get to crosswalks, and generally think stopping at stop signs is for other people. The Baylands is one place where walking has been generally safe.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 28, 2023 at 4:51 pm

Anonymous is a registered user.

Excellent news. Let’s keep our nature preserves as natural and safe as possible. Thank you, Council!

Posted by Amie
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 28, 2023 at 4:56 pm

Amie is a registered user.

It seems as though Council has no real idea how ebikes work, what the noise levels actually are (mine makes zero noise), how they are used (often to commute between cities, to work, to Shoreline - hello, we just put in a billion dollar bike overcrossing). I support the Arastradero ban but the Baylands, no way? Trucks drive on those roads in the Baylands, there are people all over the place, yet ebikes are the problem? Makes no sense.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2023 at 4:58 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Time to ask some questions here because I don't know what type of research has been done.

How many pedal bikes use the Baylands and Arastradero?

How many pedal assist bikes use the Baylands and Arastradero?

How many electric bikes (with throttles) use the Baylands and Arastradero?

How easy is it to tell the difference between these three types of bikes to a bypasser? Is it noise? Is it speed? Is it attitude of the rider? Is it something else?

How will this be monitored? Will there be a ranger on a pedal bike puffing and panting around the parks looking for electric bikes to give them a ticket?

Will there be signs exiting Shoreline that EVs are forbidden? Will there be signs at East Palo Alto that EVs are forbidden? Does anyone really know they are crossing from MV or EPA boundary?

Lastly, will it stop 20 mph lycra wearing mountain bikers from riding bikes and silently riding up behind a family with a toddler, startling the whole group?

If these questions haven't been answered, then I don't believe any real study and data have been gathered.

This last question is a serious problem in my mind, much more so than a quiet electric assist bike ridden by a senior who is out to enjoy the ride rather than to train for the tour de France, or get to Google as quickly as possible. I have been startled and prevented from enjoying walking and chatting to a companion by the need to walk single file when a large group of pedal cyclists come by in a large group. These are the real problem I think.

Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on Feb 28, 2023 at 5:08 pm

Rose is a registered user.

Thank you council members who voted to protect the peace and tranquility of our Baylands and parks for people, birds and small animals. I bike on the pedestrian/bikeway that runs adjacent to Caltrain from Channing to University Ave. A lot of bikers, whether on electric or regular bikes, race up and pass me with no warning. They are relatively quiet, yes, but their speed is dangerous if they are careless. We can't guarantee that bikers will ride at safe speeds so it's much better to just ban the electric bikes. There are plenty of places bikers can ride their electric bikes. Let's keep the Baylands and other open space areas protected -- especially for the wildlife but also for families. I love my bike but I treasure even more the tranquility of our open spaces.

Posted by KatieG
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2023 at 6:35 pm

KatieG is a registered user.

I know this article specifically addresses the Council's ban on e-bikes in the Baylands Nature Preserve, but have any other e-bikers been told by Foothills Park that they are also banned there, on the paved roadway? I know bikes have always been banned on the dirt trails, which I wholeheartedly support since I also hike in this park, but on the wide paved roads throughout the park? Really? So, the City of Palo Alto prefers for me to drive my gas powered car to the park rather than ride my e-bike? Maybe the ranger who told me this recently was misinformed, but if true, this is outrageous. Bike friendly Palo Alto is suddenly becoming less friendly.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 28, 2023 at 7:00 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Interesting that today Palo Alto Utilities is touting what they call an EBike webinar information session tonight to get more people to buy an EBike. Web Link "The Coolest Way to Travel". Do these people talk to each other?

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Feb 28, 2023 at 8:12 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

CPAU doesn't seem to be paying attention to other bodies. The next day after they were quoted justifying a 7% rate hike for water because their "sales" were down because we didn't use enough water during the drought Valley Water sent out their newsletter with all sorts of helpful hints for saving money through conservation. CPAU's justification for the rate hikes also ignores all the fines were were threatened with for excess usage and discussions of whether it was a good idea for neighbors to report neighbors for over-watering and/or watering on the wrong day.

Posted by mjh
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 28, 2023 at 8:47 pm

mjh is a registered user.

This article’s heading seems to be somewhat misleading because many of the writers above appear to assume e-bikes are being completely banned from preserve. My understanding is E-bikes are allowed in the preserve on all the paved roads/trails. The ban only applies to unpaved trails.

Posted by ArtL
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 28, 2023 at 9:49 pm

ArtL is a registered user.

The issue the Council and PRC should have discussed was about regulating behavior rather than regulating devices. The PRC said they do not have the resources required for a trial period for e-bikes on the elevated, very wide (>15') unpaved trails (actually roads with motor vehicles operating on them) that are on top of levees in the Baylands. But do they have the resources for monitoring the new regulations given that new e-bikes are available are almost indistinguishable from manual bikes. The ban of e-bikes on the improved trails in the Baylands will keep the respectful riders - like my e-bike cohorts in my senior bicycle riding group - off the Baylands' improved unpaved trails, but I doubt it will stop the reckless e-bike riders from riding there

Posted by John Donegan
a resident of another community
on Mar 1, 2023 at 10:09 am

John Donegan is a registered user.

Since ebikes allow people who are physically unable to ride regular bicycles to ride, could banning them be challenged by the ADA?

Posted by Resident11
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 1, 2023 at 12:04 pm

Resident11 is a registered user.

I agree with mjh that the headline on this article is misleading and arguably provocative. There are paved trails all along the bay that will continue to allow e-bikes. This discussion was about the circuitous unpaved trails inside the preserve.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 2, 2023 at 6:05 am

Annette is a registered user.

Given the world we live in these days, I have a question: how is CC defining paved? Does the ban apply only to paths and trails not covered in asphalt or does paved include gravel-paved and hard-packed-dirt-paved such as the trail in front of the interpretive center (see above photo)?

Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2023 at 12:31 pm

Consider Your Options. is a registered user.

Adding BICYCLE PARKING is going to be very important so that people who are now required to leave their bikes at trailheads have a secure place to lock up. This is a necessity if we want people to bike TO the Bay trails. Auto parking is much more expensive to provide and encourages people to use the single most environmentally impactful mode of transportation, ironically, to visit nature.

Also, even with the ban, I still think that educational signage is important for ALL trail users. People who walk(and litter and wander off-trail) and walk dogs (and let them off leash or on super long leashes in nesting areas—Yeeks!) do bad things too. Education would go a long toward getting better behavior from all trail users.

Council, now that you have approved this, please expeditiously direct staff to do what's necessary to support people who ride bikes to walk in the baylands by adding bike parking--lots of it, and to EDUCATE ALL TRAIL USERS about how to gently share the trails with other humans and treasured wildlife.

Posted by We Told You So!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2023 at 12:40 pm

We Told You So! is a registered user.

This is STUPID!

Ebikes cut down on Traffic!
There are potential Rapist on that trail. Get rid of them?
And that Dumb Airport is Noisier than any tiny Bicycle?
Get your Priorities straight!

Posted by KatieG
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 2, 2023 at 1:21 pm

KatieG is a registered user.

The ban is illogical. Instead of riding an e-bike to the open preserve areas that now ban these devices, I'll have to drive my gas powered vehicle and park somewhere since it's too far for me to walk from my home. My e-bike is quiet, does not pollute the environment, and I practice common courtesy when I come across other bikers and hikers. I do not speed, most people wouldn't even recognize the difference between my e-bike vs. my manual mountain bike.

Thank you to Councilman Greg Tanaka for his interview with the SJ Mercury News (today's edition) - as he wisely points out, it's focusing on the wrong problem - "it's not the device, it's the behavior."

Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 2, 2023 at 1:35 pm

ALB is a registered user.

Yes and who will enforce the behavior of ebike users who — it only takes a few to disrupt the tranquil nature preserve’s ambiance. I believe that users would commute on paths creating a track. The Baylands is not a commuter corridor.

Check out the Comp plan. The CC supports residents who enjoy this closeby refuge. We do not need these commuter vehicles designed for paved streets and asphalt paths to be in the Baylands. The PRC dug deep and properly educated the public and CC alike. I appreciate greatly the decision to maintain this natural sanctuary. Bravo!

Posted by tmp
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 2, 2023 at 2:10 pm

tmp is a registered user.

I totally support this ban. As for the e-bikers who complain they now have to drive their cars to the park. You can ride your e-bike to the parking lot and on paved roads and trails. Duh!

As for Mr. Tanaka's "it's not the device, it's the behavior" comment, now he sounds like a gun supporter. As we know, if you allow guns, people shoot each other. If you allow e-bikes and set a speed limit people will ride them faster and run others off the road or frighten the wildlife. How many drivers of cars do you know that keep to the speed limit?

Trials in parks and open areas are for enjoyment of that area, not cut through options to get somewhere quicker. I applaud e-bikers for helping the environment but you can get to shoreline or Google using your e-bike on the roads and paved trails.

Keep the ban.

Posted by staying home
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 2, 2023 at 3:07 pm

staying home is a registered user.

"I believe that users would commute on paths creating a track. The Baylands is not a commuter corridor." Over the paved bike path that is direct to Google/Intuit/Facebook campuses? Please.

No one is advocating for bike access sees this as a commuting issue. This is about access to parks. Parks that should be accessible and enjoyed by all. Rather than banning on the perceived fear of speeding bicyclists, City Council should be focused on expanding access to maximize the community involvement.

Regardless, I don't see any investment happening to enforce this ban. Local hospitals really need to staff up for all the bike/pedestrian collisions that are about to happen.

Posted by David V
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 2, 2023 at 4:05 pm

David V is a registered user.

Park Ranger told us we could no longer ride e-bikes or other PEV on paved park trails due to a recent city council action. I am not aware of this change, only the vote Monday to ban them from unpaved trails in the baylands. Can anyone help clarify?

Posted by Paul
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 2, 2023 at 11:55 pm

Paul is a registered user.

If they want to have a preserve, have one that is really exclusive. No one without board approval. That is a nature preserve. Then reclaim half or more of the parking lot.

I wonder if this can be made an ADA issue. An ebike is what keeps me riding. So I am excluded from riding in an area where current residents are typically going there by car.

What if I disable the assist while I'm in the park? (Then I'll be extra sluggish, slower than most bikes, but something I CAN do, if exceptions are willing to be made.

I ride with a group of friends, I'm one of the few that needs an ebike to "keep up" and now if they wanna ride through there, I can't ride with them that day.

Anyway, I'm disappointed my city can't come up with a win-win solution. If the parks too crowded, make the parking lot smaller, and ticket people who turn on their assist, when a sign says they shouldnt. But treating an ebike that CAN be shut off as a monster, is just plain nonsense.

Total exclusion is just not a great answer.

Posted by Edmund D
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 4, 2023 at 7:26 pm

Edmund D is a registered user.

The proposed E-bike rules on Bay trails.
More thought and research is needed before creating barriers to recreational travel by the broad category of E-bike. As a senior in their 80’s, with broken bones in one knee and an elbow (from motorcycle collisions many years ago), I am only able to enjoy these wide “trails” by riding a recumbent trike. In order to travel from my home to that area, I needed to add an E-assist option to get through hilly areas enroute. Once there, I do not need the E-assist, but it is so quiet, most folks do not hear it at all. My maximum speed with E-assist is 15 mph, but most of the time I am going 8-9 mph.
Hopefully the decision makers for Bay trail policies will use good judgement and not restrict riders like myself from enjoying the waterfront.
However, I have seen some “fat tire” eBikes race by me, so some restrictions might be in order for that class of eBike.

Posted by Chris K
a resident of Southgate
on Mar 6, 2023 at 11:12 am

Chris K is a registered user.

A terrible decision that conflates throttle-operated thrillcraft class 2 e-bikes with low-speed class 1 pedal assist bikes. Very disappointing.

If you're going to ban class 1 e-bikes because they might be a distraction or disturbance, then you had best ban all bikes and scooters and other wheeled conveyances as well. Are you really ready to do that?

Posted by Mark
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 6, 2023 at 2:23 pm

Mark is a registered user.

I'll be riding there anyway as a disabled senior citizen and when I'm ticketed I'll file a complaint here.

Web Link

Shameful patently discriminatory behavior on the part of non-dissenting counsel members.

Posted by TimR
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 6, 2023 at 10:03 pm

TimR is a registered user.

"Thank you, Ed Lauing and the majority of the City Council...for preserving at least ONE place where people can go out to walk, enjoy nature, and not have a motorized vehicle whizzing past."

There already was a popular place for that before the ban: Foothills Nature Preserve. And there's Los Trancos, too, which also doesn't allow bicycles (or dogs). All the parks allow a different combination of things, and in my opinion, there's no reason why at least Arastradero shouldn't allow e-bikes. Except for maybe potential problems regarding riders on horseback.

Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 7, 2023 at 2:35 pm

ALB is a registered user.

E-bike folks can ride their vehicles on paved surfaces. Please change the heading to reflect this fact.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.