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The city of Cedar Falls may allow electric bicycles on recreational trails.

Council members voted 5-1, with Ward 2 member Susan deBuhr dissenting and Ward 3 member Daryl Kruse absent, to direct staff to draft an ordinance allowing three different classes of motor- and throttle-assisted bicycles, known as e-bikes, on the city’s network of trails.

The ordinance is needed, said public works director Chase Schrage, because the Legislature didn’t define e-bikes in its last session, and because e-bikes have “significantly increased” in popularity in Cedar Falls.

Class I is a pedal-assist motorized bike that stops assisting cyclists at 20 miles per hour. Class II bikes are similar, but are equipped with throttles. Class III e-bikes also are pedal-assisted, and can go up to 28 miles per hour. Class III e-bikes are similar under Iowa law to mopeds.

Schrage said his staff and the Parks and Recreation Committee recommend the city allow only Class I and Class II bikes on trails, as is the case in Waterloo.

But the Cedar Falls Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee disagreed, saying it prefers allowing all classes of e-bikes on the trails. Public commenters did as well.

“If I were to get a Class III e-bike, I would not be able to take it out of the neighborhood,” said resident T.J. Frein, noting the top speed would make him a hazard on either Greenhill or Hudson roads, both of which he lives near. “I don’t see, other than the speed difference, why it would be an issue.”

Bike Tech owner Brent Johnson noted some cyclists already go much faster on a conventional bicycle than 28 miles per hour, the top speed of a Class III e-bike.


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