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Marin Water District Weighs Allowing Electric Mountain Bikes On Watershed Trails

MARIN COUNTY (CBS SF) -- The Marin Municipal Water District on Tuesday night will decide if electric mountain bikes will be allowed on their watershed fire roads.

"If this is approved, it's a three-year program. It will allow e-Bikes on fire roads; the same roads that are used by traditional bikes, and they'll be subject to the same regulations," said Marin Municipal Water District spokesperson Jeanne Belding.

Among those regulations is a speed limit of 15 mph that goes down to 5 mph when passing hikers and horses.

Sam Bolster, the general manager of Mike's Bikes in San Rafael says electric mountain bikes are being used on trails more and more.

"Exploding in popularity right now! I think this is a good next step for trail access," said Bolster.

E-bikes are not cheap; prices start at around $7,000 to $8,000. Top line ultralight models cost nearly $15,000. Bolster says that creates a whole new dynamic.

"A lot of the E-Bike crowd is on the older side. You'd have all the fun in the world on this bike! I would too," he said.

These E-bikes are "class 1" bikes, meaning they don't have a throttle and still require pedaling. The electric motor only assist your efforts.

Environmental groups have expressed concerns the bikes will disturb wildlife and erode trails. Marin Water officials say they will learn a lot during the proposed three-year pilot program.

"Really, we've seen an increase in visitors to the watershed. Right now we get about two million visitors to the watershed annually. So, this will really help us find that right balance," said Belding.

The vote on the program happens during a meeting Tuesday night that starts at 7:30 p.m.


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