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City Council votes in favor of new e-mountain bike trail, worrying Park City riders and hikers

City officials added a new trail in Snow Park for e-mountain bikers

PARK CITY, Utah – Amid growing pressure to allow e-bike use on more trails in Park City, the Park City Council met Friday to discuss adding an e-bike friendly trail on private land in Deer Valley. 

E-mountain bikes are currently banned on Park City’s singletrack trails unless riders are 65 and older or have a mobile disability.

The one exception to this rule is Clark Ranch near U.S. Highway 40, which has dedicated about 5 miles of trails for class I, e-mountain bike use outside of those restrictions. The trails there were built for e-mountain bike use specifically.

The Council, voted in favor of building a new e-mountain bike trail that will start in Snow Park and connect to Deer Valley’s new East Village base, despite much public opposition. Deer Valley Resort and Park City worked together create the route, which is located on land in both Wasatch and Summit County.

Councilmembers Jeremy Rubell, Ed Parigian and Bill Ciraco voted in favor of the pilot project, saying they should embrace the increasing number of people who want to use e-bikes on trails and provide a safe place for them to ride.

Councilmembers Ryan Dickey and Tana Toly, were opposed to adding the new trail, citing safety concerns for hikers and runners. Dickey said he felt the public was opposed to more e-bike use and there was no need to add an entirely new user group to Park City’s trail system.

Mountain Trails Foundation Executive Director Lora Anthony expressed concerns about e-mountain bike use spreading to the broader Park City trail network. She said East Village will have 50 miles of e-mountain bike friendly trails that the city should direct people to use.

“I think that there is a little bit of short sightedness here. There are, as far as we know, no enforcement plans to keep e-bikes from bleeding out onto the rest of the trail system. That is going to be a big concern,” Anthony said.

Anthony also questioned how the city would measure whether or not the pilot program succeeds.

“I would urge you not to put the cart before the horse, please let’s think about the long term consequences of the votes you take today,” Anthony said.

A survey conducted by the city polled Park City’s trail users including hikers, analogue bikers and e-bike users about the issue of e-bike use. It was the best responded to survey in the history of Park City. The results of that survey showed 66% of people in Park City and 59% in the wider district would support additional enforcement of the PCMC ordinance that regulates ebike usage on natural surface trails. The results suggest the potentiality of more e-bikers spilling onto the currently restricted singletrack trails is not favored by the majority.

During the meeting, Mountain Trails Foundation also recognized the development of e-bike friendly trails in Park City is already well underway.

“We see the need, we see the desire, and we are working on building those trails. But just like the pickleball courts, it’s going to take a little while to develop those trails,” Anthony said.

The meeting was attended by dozens of community members, who mostly spoke out against the new pilot project.

Colleen Logan, a Parkite who enjoys hiking on Park City’s trail network spoke in opposition to the approval.

I’m a hiker, and I feel very threatened by even analog bikes at certain times and I simply avoid those trails, or I do them at really, really off times. E-bikers seem to have this aura of invincibility about them that makes it a real conflict. I’d just like us to remember the name of our city, the park part is what I moved here for – trails, peacefulness, tranquility and the ability to get away. I don’t want the city part of Park City on our trails and on our singletrack,” Logan said.

Another Park City resident, Craig Williams, said the city should have more of a ranger presence on trails to enforce the current restrictions and ensure that visitors who rent e-bikes don’t take them on trails they’re not allowed on. Currently, the city does not have any such enforcement presence.

The Council did not say when the new e-mountain bike trail will be ready for use.

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