Okanagan Rail Trail now open to Class 2 e-bikes

Regional district board agrees to trail access bylaw amendment

The Regional District of North Okanagan board has approved a bylaw amendment to allow Class 2 e-bikes access to the trail between Lake Country and Coldstream. (File photo)

The Regional District of North Okanagan board has approved a bylaw amendment to allow Class 2 e-bikes access to the trail between Lake Country and Coldstream. (File photo)

E-bike advocates spoke and the Regional District of North Okanagan board has listened.

A recommendation put forward by the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee to the RDNO board designating Class 1 and Class 2 (throttle assist) e-bikes as a permitted use on the Okanagan Rail Trail was approved by the regional district board of directors Wednesday evening (June 14).

“This is fantastic,” said Sheila Fraser, an electric bike advocate who along with her husband Ron Fraser owns Pedego Oyama Electric Bikes.

“This is the right decision for an active transportation corridor like the (Okanagan Rail Trail) that connects communities together.”

The issue arose this spring when new signage on the section of the Okanagan Rail Trail between Coldstream and Lake Country advised users of a bylaw restricting trail access to Class 1 electric bikes.

Class 2 e-bikes with throttle assist now have approved access for using the Okanagan Rail Trail between Lake Country and Coldstream. (Contributed)

Class 2 e-bikes with throttle assist now have approved access for using the Okanagan Rail Trail between Lake Country and Coldstream. (Contributed)

That excluded access for many riders with mobility challenges, or who simply live in hilly terrain or have great distances to travel, and rely on a Class 2 e-bike with a throttle for an extra boost of assistance.

Backed by an online petition opposing the Class 2 e-bike ban with 4,200 signatures, Fraser led a delegation appearing before the Greater Vernon Advisory Committee on June 1, seeking to amend the bylaw, which the committee agreed to recommend to the RDNO board for final approval.

“We’ve heard from a lot of passionate bike riders over the past several weeks and we’ve learned that we could all use a little more education and etiquette when we’re out on our bikes – whether they are electric or regular,” Fraser said in a news release.

That was in response to public comments by pedestrian trail walkers complaining about close-calls with cyclists who believe the throttle-powered e-bikes belong on the roads.

“So, we are taking this valuable lesson to heart and doing something about it,” she added.

On Saturday, June 18, Pedego Oyama will launch an intro event called ‘The EEEs of Cycling – Education, Etiquette and E-bikes!’

This one-hour (10:15-11:15 a.m.) session is open for all cyclists who are new to e-biking or getting back into cycling and want to learn more about e-bikes, basic maintenance and rules of the road.

The seminar takes place at Pedego Oyama, located at 15686 Pelmewash Parkway, next to Gatzke’s Farm Market.

The first session is already booked up, but Fraser says if the demand is there, more sessions will be offered.

READ MORE: Lifting of Okanagan Rail Trail e-bike ban gains traction

READ MORE: Okanagan Rail Trail e-bike restriction to be reviewed

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