Open Space Visitors’ Attitudes toward Ebikes on Natural surface Trails


  • Lina Xiong Colorado State University
  • Jerry J. Vaske Colorado State University
  • Jennifer Almstead Larimer County Department of Natural Resources
  • Zac Wiebe Larimer County Department of Natural Resources



This article examined visitors’ attitudes toward electric motorized bikes (ebikes) on natural surface trails and the reasons for support or opposition to ebikes. On-site survey data (n = 536) were obtained from visitors to Devil’s Backbone Open Space (DBOS) in Larimer County, Colorado in 2020. Findings suggested that visitors’ ebike attitudes differed by demographics (i.e., age, gender, residence), and trip characteristics (i.e., survey location, visits per year, primary activity). We also observed a positive correlation between perceived ebike familiarity and support. A content analysis of responses to an open-ended question revealed that concerns over safety, crowding, and beliefs that ebikes do not belong in natural environment were major reasons for opposing ebikes. The potential to expand trail access to people with mobility difficulties was the main reason for a supportive attitude. Visitors’ attitudes were also based on misperceptions about ebikes (e.g., ebikes are noisy), suggesting the need effective public communication. We suggested several practical recommendations managing ebikes in natural areas. First, correct information regarding ebikes (e.g., ebikes are generally quiet) needs to be disseminated. Ebike demonstration sites at popular trailheads would allow visitors to personally experience ebikes and better understand the technology. Information boards could describe ebikes’ mechanisms and environmental impact to clarify some misperceptions. Second, concerns with safety and speed could be addressed by developing comprehensive bike regulations (e.g., speed limits, trail etiquette education) for all bikers. Setting up speed limit signs and monitoring devices on trails might minimize some visitor concerns. Third, exceptions could be made for users with mobility disabilities; these exceptions should be advertised widely so all visitors were aware of and understand the exceptions.

Author Biographies

Jerry J. Vaske, Colorado State University


Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources

Colorado State University

Jennifer Almstead, Larimer County Department of Natural Resources

Fund Development & Projects Specialist

Larimer County Department of Natural Resources

Zac Wiebe, Larimer County Department of Natural Resources

Planning & Natural Resource Specialist

Larimer County Department of Natural Resources





Regular Papers