Seniors Citizens Banned from using pedal assisted bikes in Angeles District Park bike trails!
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On 9/13/17 Angeles Department of Parks and Recreation, District Superintendent Craig Sap signed order # 915-17-002 effectively banning pedal assist ebikes Angeles District Park bike trails.
Over 33% of Americans (109,000,000 people) are over 50 years old. This portion of the population is expected to grow at twice the rate as the rest of the population over the next 30 years. This order discriminates against Senior citizens and basically 1/3rd of the population. The average ebike purchaser is between 45 and 65 years old. My riding buddy Stanley Ramsey is a retired police officer and he is 82 years old. I am 60 years old, a military veteran with two heart attacks and was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Ebikes are a new technology that allows older citizens like myself and Stanley to ride a bike again by providing pedal assist. The potential health benefits are enormous. I have lost 15 pounds in just 2 months and have my diabetes under control without the need for meds in large part thanks to my pedal assist ebike rides in the park (off the street where it is safe to ride without the stress and fear of getting hit by a car). The park experience also provides tranquility and stress reduction.
On or about Jan. 1, 2016 California Assembly Bill 1096 went into effect. "This bill would delete the latter definition of a “motorized bicycle.” The bill defined an “electric bicycle” as a bicycle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts, and created 3 classes of electric bicycles, as specified." Class 1 and 2 are now allowed to go anywhere that regular bikes are permitted in CA. While class 3 are banned from trails.
The District Superintendent may have the authority to ban class 1 and class 2 ebikes from a specific trail or path. But banning class 1 and 2 ebike access to the entire Angeles District park system is outrageous and equates to age discrimination. Complaints from younger bike riders about ebikes are baseless and discriminatory. The District Superintendents Order No 915-17-002 embraces and promotes age discrimination on behalf of those existing trail users attempting to retain exclusive use excluding over 1/3rd of the population and potential trail users wishing to use the new technology available to them so they can also enjoy the benefits of bike riding on bike trails, simply because they are older and require the pedal assist to ride a bike.
The justification cited in the order are over exaggerated and subjective. It has been two years since AB 1096 was signed by Governor Jerry Brown, treating class 1 and 2 ebikes as normal bikes including access to state park bike trails. Angeles District is the first CA State Park systems to issued such an order with a blanket ban on all pedal assist ebike access including class 1 and 2 ebikes.
The justification for the total ban as stated in the order was, "The dramatic growth and popularity of electric assisted or propelled bicycles (e-bikes) within the Angeles District is impacting the unique trail and backcountry experiences, afforded by the District and e-bikes are an emergent technology generally inconsistent with the park experience that may have negative impacts on special resources and regional wildlife found within the Angeles District"
"1. To protect wildlife and cultural resources, for the safety and welfare of visitors and staff, and to be consistent with ordinances of adjacent local, state and federal Park agencies and roads of the Park Units operated by the Angeles District are closed to the use of electric assisted or propelled bicycles (e-bikes). "
Pedal assist bikes do not endanger wildlife or cultural resources. They do not pose a safety and welfare hazard to visitors and staff. In fact just last week my 82 year old riding buddy Stanley towed a stranded camper that was miles from his camp grounds on a normal bike that had broke his chain derailer. Stanley has pedal assist that allowed him to do so. Ebikes make the trail safer for both hikers and normal bikes allowing someone on an ebike to get help if needed more efficiently.
The first part of the order listed above is just without any bases or merit. "Impacting the unique trail and back country experience" "Inconsistent with the park experience" This is subjective. Each person would have their own unique park experience. This is exclusionary reasoning by nature to benefit the few. Class 1 and 2 ebikes make no noise or generate any heat over that of a normal bike. Dramatic growth? Frankly on my hour and a half rides through the park trails I sometimes see 1 other ebike rider and most often don't see any. "may have a negative impact on the special resources and regional wild life" It's just as likely may not. There is no science to justify this. The only study I have heard of showed that Class 1 and 2 pedal assist ebikes have no more negative impact on special resources or regional wild life than hiking and normal bikes.
Bottom line is that there are a few healthy and fit hikers and bikers that resent less healthy or less fit citizens sharing the State Park bike and hiking trails and have an entitlement attitude. They are attempting to retain exclusive use discriminating against the older and less fit citizens of the State of California. The District Superintendent wittingly or unwittingly has promoted and is helping them to promote this form of age discrimination and exclusionary use of our State Park system. One can not be denied park bike trail access based on age discrimination and in effect that is what is happening with this ban on pedal assist bikes by the Department of Parks and Recreation, Angeles District State Parks, since pedal assist ebikes are needed by the elderly to ride a bike. The answer that I was given by the District Superintendent was that I can apply for a waiver. When you discriminate against 1/3rd of Californians because we are older and say you can apply for a waiver that is not ok. We are talking about the elderly not just the disabled. Plus this is a ruse because the waiver still does not provide access to the bike trails. Many will be intimidated and not apply for a waiver and not buy a pedal assist bike and not get access to the park bike trails. By design this approach is exclusionary. Inclusion not exclusion is how the public State Park system is expected to be run by the citizens of California.
As for the arguments that ebikes may pose a fire hazard, there has not been one documented case of an ebike anywhere in the world starting a forest fire that I am aware of. Almost all of the few ebike battery fires occurred during the early years of development between 2011 and 2013 and while plugged in and charging of as a result of factory defects. The chance of a class 1 or 2 pedal assist ebike causing a forest fire are statistically insignificant and much lower than all other causes of forest fire including lightning strikes and plane crashes.
The misnomer that class 1 and 2 ebikes can go 20 miles an hour is misleading. Because on a trail the speeds that can be achieved with pedal assist are only slightly more than a normal bikes if that in the 5 miles an hour range given the hard riding conditions consisting of ruts, rocks, sand and steep grades and the need to conserve power to be able to make it back without running out of battery power. The pedal assist works like additional gears for the hard hills or to supplement ones own ability limitations. There will always be those that abuse the privilege but they can be policed rather than banning over 1/3 of the population made up primarily of senior citizens and those over 50 years old by complaints of the younger and more fit trail users that have an entitlement attitude.
We respectfully request that the Department of Parks District Superintendent order number 915-17-002 be rescinded as it is discriminatory in nature and was done without sufficient public input and based on subjective and non scientific reasoning. This order sets a dangerous precedent that other state parks may follow.
P. S. Stanley Ramsey is an 82 year old pedal assist ebike rider and my friend and riding buddy. He is a retired police officer, do this for him and others like him. Like so many others he used to be an avid hiker but can no longer hike the park trails. He loves to ride his pedal assist ebike on the park trails just about every other day except for Tuesdays when he hands out food to the elderly. You may not be as old as Stanely yet, but if you ever want the opportunity to ride a bike on an Angeles District Park bike trail when you are older, do this for yourself or so many others that are elderly. It is the right thing to do for the aging population too as this new technology becomes more common place allowing more people to ride a bike again for the first time in years.
Thank you in advance for signing our petition to protect equal bike access for our senior citizens to Angeles District State Parks. This is about taking away the rights of our senior citizens who can greatly benefit from the use of this new technology. If this order is not rescinded It also puts pressure on the neighboring counties park systems as Angeles District County senior residencies are forced to drive long distances to Orange County and other neighboring counties to ride their bikes or are forced to give up their bike and bike riding activity all together.
Photo of Stanley Ramsey (82) and a friend (63) sitting on a Park bench at halfway point resting after a 4 to 5 mile State Park pedal assist ebike ride.
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