To the editor;
Article 72, which restricts the bike path solely to foot pedaled bicycles, will result in significant traffic congestion and increased injuries on our roads this summer. Bruce Mandel’s well meaning article moves all motor powered modes of transport from the safety of our bike paths to the danger of our roads. All motorized vehicles, including scooters, skateboards and E-bikes will be outlawed from the paths and forced onto our already narrow, crowded and often gravel surfaced streets. If you are concerned by summer traffic you will be in for a treat this year as all of these vehicles, which travel a maximum of 20 miles per hour, parade down Milestone Road, where they will hold up traffic and create unforeseen incidents including falls, broken limbs and more dangerous injuries. In addition, these incidences will stop traffic and potentially tangle with oncoming vehicles .
According to the global market information supplier, NPD, the amount of E-bikes sold each year is growing at 16 times the rate of pedal bicycles. Many electric bicycles are difficult to distinguish from pedal bicycles and enforcement of restrictions would be difficult at best. E-bikes are generally available from all of Nantucket’s bike stores as well as several other Nantucket retailers, who have jumped on the bandwagon. E-bike rentals are available at numerous locations throughout the island.
Thus, the naked truth is that regardless of restrictions, E-bikes and other forms of electric mobility will be out in numbers this summer, regardless of where they are restricted to ride. I shudder to think of the confusion and potential hazards that the island will endure when summer guests, who are not familiar with Nantucket, are forced onto the streets rather than the relative safety of the our outstanding network of bike paths. Not only will traffic suffer, but injuries and even deaths may result.
The average pedal bike rider travels at 16 to 19 mph with experienced riders traveling over 25 mph for long distances. E-bikes are available in three classes; Class 1 travels at a maximum of 20 mph and offers only pedal assist. Class 2 bikes also are restricted to 20 mph but offer a throttle to allow the bike to move without pedaling and Class 3 bikes travel up to 28 mph and usually have a throttle. Perhaps a good compromise would be to limit E-bikes on Nantucket to only Classes 1 and 2.
The Finance Committee, Select Board and the Nantucket Police Department all recommend a NO vote on Article 72. For the safety and well-being of all Nantucketers and our guests, I ask you to vote “NOT to Adopt.”
Peter N. Schaeffer