E-Bikes sparking debate in Boise


Pedals, a chain, tires and hand brakes… it looks like a bicycle but you’ll also find a battery pack that helps the bike go.

But the electric motor is sparking debate with Boise city leaders.

"There are complaints on the Greenbelt against bicyclists and people on e-bikes," said Kai Miller, co-owner of Boise Electric Bikes.

Miller doesn’t believe the issues are strictly fueled by e-bikes.

"On the Greenbelt, there's a lot of people walking around a lot of people out and about children and families, senior citizens. With slow moving crowds on a busy day on the Greenbelt, you're ringing your bell the whole time, riding down the Greenbelt… on your left… on your right… signaling to people. Then you see the guys in their full lycra suit hauling down the Greenbelt going 25 to 30 miles an hour… not signaling… not regarding anyone and I see the same thing with people on e-bikes," said Miller.

The city is now trying to figure out what to do with them.

"The state of Idaho and the city of Boise is kind of tricky right now as there are no laws specifically for e-bikes," Miller said.

The city declined our request for an interview because they're working on an e-bike proposal right now, it's not finalized. But back in September, Parks and Rec outlined a draft ordinance that follows federal guidelines.

"My understanding on what the city of Boise is going to be proposing is basically there's one classification for e-bikes. It's the same as federal law which is 750 watts, top speed no higher than 20 mph, and brakes when you pull them it cuts off the motor," said Miller.

But once again, no ordinance has been approved yet concerning where e-bikes can go... from the foothills to the greenbelt and all spots in-between.

Miller points out e-bikes aren't necessarily meant for people with a need for speed.

"On my older side of riders... my 65 and above riders… it's because of surgeries or physical limitations they have a back issue or knee issue or a hip replacement and they can't swing their leg up over the bike and really crank down on the pedals. When you put them on an electric bike with pedal assist and step through frame it's easy to get them on and off and a good amount of juice for them, it takes those people with those physical limitations and puts them out on a bike when they wouldn't otherwise be on a bike," Miller said.

Miller says that’s a win – win for everyone.

"I think it just opens up a world to people that some people just haven't been able to see. It enables people that are… can't get up into the foothills to go up into the foothills and to see everything and get on the Greenbelt and explore town and go to Lucky peak and go to Eagle and ya know…. ride your bike instead of suffer on your bike," Miller said.

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