Perceptions of Conflict Surrounding Future E-Bike Use on the Arizona Trail

On average, the majority of survey respondents disapprove of e-bikes being allowed on the trail. This remains true across the board for each of the major user groups; however, mountain bike rider respondents are less likely to disapprove of allowing e-bikes on non-motorized trails and equestrian respondents are more likely to disapprove.

The majority of e-bike related research has taken place on city streets, often outside of the United States, and has focused on e-bikes as a form of transportation with recreation as a secondary function. This type of research provides little insight into the potential outcomes from the 2019 U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) Order 3376, which may allow e-bikes to be used on non-motorized recreational trails.

This study gathered opinions from individuals who were knowledgeable about and connected to the Arizona National Scenic Trail (AZT). Comments were solicited in reaction to Secretary Bernhardt’s e-bike statement via the Arizona Trail Association (ATA) Facebook page and the ATA email newsletter. Quantitative data was collected by way of an online questionnaire and distributed via the Arizona Trail Association (ATA) Facebook page, the ATA email newsletter, as well as the email lists for Arizona members of People for Bikes and Back Country Horsemen of America. The questionnaire asked about e-bikes and their use on the AZT. The analysis aimed to better understand how survey respondents’ most frequent method of travel, exposure to e-bikes and other factors shape their opinion of this new user group and where there may be potential for user conflict. Our findings only reflect the opinions of our pool of participants and should not be assumed to represent the opinions of Arizona Trail users at large.

The majority of respondents disapproved of e-bikes being allowed on the trail. This sentiment remained true across the board for each of the major user groups; however, mountain bike riders surveyed were less likely to disapprove of allowing e-bikes on non-motorized trails, and equestrians surveyed were more likely to disapprove. Findings also showed that experience with e-bikes improved tolerance for e-bike use on non-motorized trails amongst survey respondents, but on average exposure alone was not enough to create favorability. Survey responses also strongly suggested a polarized divide between the pro-e-bike and anti-e-bike camps, where both sides are highly reluctant to sympathize with the opposing camp’s argument, which could lead to conflict.

Attached document published October 2020

More articles in this category

Winter Recreation Planning

posted Nov 14, 2023

These case studies reveal a number of lessons learned that will be valuable in future winter travel management planning efforts.

TRAILS SAFE PASSING PLAN: STOP, SPEAK, and STAND BACK

posted Feb 14, 2023

Horses are prey animals and naturally can be afraid of unfamiliar people and objects. Horses have natural "flight“ survival instincts and prefer to move their feet towards an exit route. Therefore, people with horses should pass at a walk while other trail users remain STOPPED until passed.

ORV – Social & Management Issues

posted Jul 15, 2022

Off-road vehicles can have a substantial impact on the experience of other non-motorized visitors on trails that are shared or even on adjacent forest or park settings.

Informal and Formal Trail Monitoring Protocols and Baseline Conditions

posted Jul 15, 2022

This research developed and applied state-of-the-art trail condition assessment and monitoring procedures and applied them to the park’s formal and informal (visitor-created) trails.

462 views • posted 10/27/2020