Whether you love them or hate them, e-bikes are coming and they are changing the way many people commute and ride recreationally. Like most new technology, e-bikes bring benefits and drawbacks – many factors to weigh in deciding where e-bikes belong and where they don’t in your community.

B.C.’s new e-bike policy has just been released and it effectively allows Class 1 e-bikes on established recreation trails on crown land unless they are specifically prohibited. (Class 2 and Class 3 e-bikes are only permitted on trails designated for motorized use.)

In Whistler, we are working with the Resort Municipality of Whistler to develop a community-wide e-bike policy and we are engaging stakeholders and residents in the process. The policy will apply to off-road trails and the Valley Trail system, and it will extend beyond just e-bikes, applying to other electric mobility devices such as e-wheelchairs, e-scooters, e-skateboards, etc.

The Policy Development Process

Whistler’s process, which began in the fall of 2018 and will wrap up this summer, started with key stakeholder interviews and the development of project objectives to get everyone on the same page related to what the policy should ultimately aim to achieve. Phase 2, which has just been completed, focused on developing proposed policy directions that were then presented to the community for feedback via an online survey and community event.

As with many small to medium sized communities in B.C., Whistler residents are passionate about outdoor recreation and community trails. Not surprisingly, there was a healthy level of engagement in the e-bike survey and event, with almost 600 people providing input and voicing passionate opinions both for and against e-bikes generally and the proposed policy directions specifically.

While Whistler’s policy development process is still underway – and may actually result in a ‘strategy’ that will be carefully monitored over a test period of time – we know that e-bikes are coming, that they enable more people to bike and enjoy outdoor recreation, and that enforcing restrictions will be extremely challenging. We also know that they enable people to go further afield than they might have otherwise and that protecting wildlife and sensitive ecosystems is critically important to Whistlerites.

Balancing e-bike pros, cons and community input is at the heart of what we’re doing in Whistler.

Please contact Shannon Gordon (sgordon@whistlercentre.ca or 604-906-0310) if you would like to learn more about an e-bike policy development process for your community.