With the implementation of electric bicycles this spring and a lack of clarity in the city code, the Moscow Pathways Commission recommended Tuesday the City Council allow electric bikes and scooters on pathways within the city.
City administrative staff will review the commission’s direction before the council makes a decision on the matter.
Fifty pedal-assisted electric bikes are expected to hit the streets of Moscow and the University of Idaho this spring.
Last month, the City Council authorized the city to enter into an agreement with the university and Gotcha Mobility for a one-year dockless e-bike share pilot program.
The program will cost $45,000 and the expense will be split by the city and university.
Commission member Erin Bacon said she believes the recommendation will keep residents safe and responsible.
“It’s in line with our vision for keeping Moscow safe and being inclusive of a new wave of technology,” she said.
Electric scooters, which are growing in popularity, may also grace Moscow streets and paths in the future.
City code does not specifically mention whether electric bicycles and scooters are allowed on pathways. The code does say it is unlawful for anyone to operate a motorized vehicle on any restricted bike path or pedestrian walkway.
“It’s a little bit of a gray area,” Moscow Assistant Parks and Recreation Director David Schott told the Daily News.
City code states a person is exempt from the restrictions if the motorized vehicle rider has a permit or permission from the city allowing him or her to operate the vehicle on the path or walkway.
Emergency police and fire vehicles and motorized wheelchairs or similar conveyances operated by a disabled person are also allowed on those paths and walkways.
Pedestrians have the right-of-way over all riders except emergency vehicles, according to the code.
Pathways Commission Chair Jonathan Gradin said the commission’s recommendation is intended to balance safety, convenience and usability for path riders. He said electric bikes are more similar to bicycles than motorcycles.
“It’s inevitable that (electric bikes and scooters) are going to be on the pathway, and so by getting ahead of the curve legislatively and making it consistent, convenient, but also focusing on safety, we’re able to not limit non-motorized transportation,” Gradin said.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to email@example.com.