Current e-bike context and reality

Research and stakeholder consultation in Phase 1 of the project yielded several common themes. These will be addressed through proposed guidelines and regulations for e-bike use in Whistler.

  • E-bikes are here now, and their use is increasing.
  • E-bikes allow more people of all ages and abilities to recreate outdoors. This has many benefits, as well as challenges.
  • There’s a need to find a way to accommodate e-bikes, while managing and monitoring key issues, impacts and concerns.
  • Enforcement will be challenging.
  • Effective guidelines are required to manage the expectations, potential impacts, and experience of residents, visitors and businesses, as demand for e-bike use grows.
  • Whistler has always been a leader in recreation and tourism trends.
  • Whistlerites value nature-based recreation, which has varying degrees of impact on the natural playground we use.
  • Protecting natural areas, especially those that are sensitive, is of key importance to Whistlerites.
  • Most of us enjoy a mix of human-powered and motorized experiences (e.g. chair lift access).
  • There is a desire to be inclusive of all ages and abilities, and provide recreation opportunities for physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing and access to nature, while protecting the natural environment.

  • Until relatively recently, motorized recreation options have been gas-powered and directed into specific zones due to noise, smell and speed issues; however, electric motors are changing the game.
  • E-bike technology will continue to advance and evolve, and there are some types of e-bikes that many be more appropriate than others for our community.
  • E-bikes are changing mountain biking—some would say this is just as snowboarding changed the ski industry and scene.
  • Opinions about e-bikes are shifting in mountain biking communities with more acceptance, which will likely lead to more uptake.
  • There’s a desire to align municipal guidelines with new provincial e-bike policy and policies in other jurisdictions to be consistent and avoid confusion.

  • Whistler is experiencing an increasing volume of riders, regardless of e-bikes, but e-bikes will contribute further.
  • Overly busy trails detract from the user’s experience.
  • Managing resort busyness a real and ongoing challenge.

Key issues and potential impacts include:

  • E-bikes allowing users to cover more distance in a shorter period of time, which equates to higher levels of trail use
  • E-bikes removing some of the physical limitations inherent in biking. This enables some users to travel into areas that they would not otherwise be able to access and or to travel into areas that may be beyond their technical or physical abilities. Potential outcomes include higher levels of trail use and potentially an increase in Search and Rescue calls for the mid- and backcountry.
  • E-bikes creating a speed differential between users, which can lead to user conflict
  • E-bikes having the ability to travel at higher speeds, particularly uphill, which will reduce the time for wildlife to retreat or avoid interaction, and increase the potential for human-wildlife conflict
  • Increased trail use, regardless of the type of bike, potentially leading to:
    • increased user or human-wildlife conflicts or exacerbation of issues,
    • more wear on off-road tread surfaces and additional trail maintenance requirements
    • more Search and Rescue calls
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