To comply with federal requirements to ensure trail access to people with disabilities, the Regional Trail Council has approved the use of electric bikes up to 250 watts on the Great Allegheny Passage, Five Star, Westmoreland Heritage and Coal and Coke trails in Westmoreland County. The Montour Trail Council is set to vote tonight.
The top speed of 250-watt bikes is about 15 mph, which is the trail speed limit. The bikes must be less than 36 inches wide, weigh less than 100 lbs., and have manual pedals. Internal combustion engines and transport without pedals, like Segways, are still prohibited.
Bill Stalter of Envirobikes in Pittsburgh says allowing electric bikes will open up the trails to people who may be older, disabled or not in top physical shape and worried about "running out of gas, physically" if they venture too far. Stalter says some hills will be too steep for the electric bikes, depending on the weight and physical condition of the rider.