Columbia aims to allow motorized vehicles in parks

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COLUMBIA — A proposed overhaul to a section of Columbia city code could soon make the city's parks more friendly for certain bike riders.

Columbia Parks and Recreation is seeking to change the current rule to allow motorized vehicle usage in parks throughout the city. 

"Really part of the reason we're changing Chapter 17, which is our code of ordinances, is to allow electronic bicycles to be used on the trail," Parks and Recreation Director Mike Griggs said.

Griggs said after evaluating, looking and visiting local bike shops, Parks and Recreation members have seen an increased demand of e-bikes and believe allowing them on trails in the park is necessary. 

"The original ordinance was that no motorized vehicles were allowed on the trail, and that really was before e-bikes became popular," Griggs said. 

Mark Bendel, the service manager of a local bike shop, said the demand of e-bikes has increased dramatically in recent years.

"Nationally, sales have been doubling or tripling every year for the past three years," Bendel said.

Bendel said he believed the biggest issue for bike users is safety.  

"Every park or state park has a recommended speed limit even for bicycles," Bendel said. "So if you're using an e-bike within those limits, there is no more safety risk then the conventional pedal bicycle."

Griggs said that state parks allow 20 miles an hour for e-bikes and Columbia wants to back it down to 15 miles an hour.

Griggs added Missouri state parks just approved the rule for motorized vehicle use this year. 

"State parks have adopted the e-bike on the Katy Trail, and since a lot of our users go out to the Katy Trail, we wanted to make sure we have a consistent policy, so we basically adopted the state park's policy," Griggs said.

James McGuire rides on the MKT trail everyday, and said he supports the city allowing e-bikes on the trail.

"I can see being a good thing is especially if there is a bad emergency, paramedics can get somewhere quickly," McGuire said.

According to Columbia Parks and Recreation, electrically-assisted pedal powered cycles shall only be operated on the following trails and hard surface city trail connectors:

  • MKT Trail
  • Hinkson Creek Trail
  • Hominy Creek Trail
  • Scott's Branch Trail
  • Grindstone Trail
  • County House Trail
  • Bear Creek Trail
  • South Providence Trail


Griggs said Parks and Recreation will turn in all proposals to the next city council meeting on Dec 5.