Letters to the Editor

Letter: E-bikes aren't the problem

I wholeheartedly agree with Tom Nelson’s recent letter to the editor that Anchorage’s paved bike trails have become increasingly dangerous over the past several years. However, I disagree that e-bikes are the primary cause. I ride my bike from Downtown to Kincaid Park and back about four to five times per week after the snow melts in the spring until the first snow in the fall. Like  Nelson, I have encountered long lines of people, usually tourists, on e-bikes. Sometimes those riders are riding safely and sometimes they are not.

However, the biggest safety concerns in my opinion are the people on any type of bike who ride too quickly for how many people are on the trail, and the people who do not obey simple traffic laws that also apply to bike trails, such as do not pass on a blind corner, stay on your side of the trail, and do not pass when someone is coming in the other direction.

My friend and I were riding back from Kincaid Park and encountered two walkers on the left side at the bottom of Point Worontzof Hill. There was a man on a regular bike who moved onto our side of the bike trail, coming in our direction, on a blind corner, to pass the walkers. I barely made it by him, and my friend was left with Hobson’s choice of colliding head-on with the errant biker, running into the walkers, or going straight off into the bushes. She suffered a very deep gouge on her leg that required immediate medical attention, a bruised cheekbone, less serious cuts and bruises, and spent hours in the emergency room at Providence.

In all my hundreds of rides, the only accident I have been involved in was caused by a person on a non-motorized bike who was passing in the lane against oncoming traffic on a blind corner at the bottom of a steep hill. Such situations will not be solved by prohibiting e-bikes. In addition, I know several people who own e-bikes and would not be able to keep up with the other members of their family if they were on an e-bike.

I agree with Nelson that something needs to be done to make the bike trails safer, but based on my experiences, I think that would involve imposing rules that everyone must follow, including not riding too fast for the conditions, not passing on a blind corner, not passing when someone is coming in the other direction, leaving a safe distance between people and any wildlife, and just being careful and aware that the bike trails are trails for bikers, walkers, runners, and young children.

— Michelle Bittner


Have something on your mind? Send to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Letters under 200 words have the best chance of being published. Writers should disclose any personal or professional connections with the subjects of their letters. Letters are edited for accuracy, clarity and length.