Flagstaff City Council may have voted to allow most kinds of electric bike riders on the Flagstaff Urban Trail System unrestricted access and voted against the criminalization of biking while intoxicated during the June 4 council meeting, but that does not mean the issue is settled.
Council must still vote on the ordinance one more time, scheduled for June 18, at which time Council could again change direction and decide to pass stronger regulations on bikes.
In their decision on June 4, many councilmembers referenced the number of emails from the public they had received in opposition to the original regulations on e-bikes and cyclists that had been proposed.
But after that vote, which allowed class one and two e-bikes on all sections of the urban trail system, the council has again been receiving emails, this time many from members of the public opposed to the devices on trails.
So far, the numbers of these emails have been in far fewer numbers compared to the public outreach the council received in opposition to regulation, according to members of the council, but they could still influence members of the council to again look at stricter regulations.
In addition to this, Mayor Coral Evans was not in attendance at the last meeting and thus could not weigh in on the subject of bike regulation when it was discussed. Evans has voiced strong support for stricter regulations being placed on both e-bikes and traditional cyclists in the past, speaking of the danger they can pose to pedestrians and insisting cyclists often don’t follow the rules of the road.
While Evans may be able to weigh in on the subject, those opposed to more regulations could lose an ally in Vice-Mayor Adam Shimoni.
During the last meeting in which council discussed the proposition, Councilmember Regina Salas asked Shimoni to recuse himself from the vote because he owns a bike business.
“As a matter of procedure and with so much respect to the vice-mayor,” Salas said, addressing Shimoni, “it is apparent to me that you have a conflict of interest as you own a bike shop.”
Salas is not the only one to call on Shimoni to recuse himself. In two letters addressed to the council addressing the issue of e-bikes on urban trails, the Northern Arizona chapter of the Sierra Club also asked Shimoni to disqualify himself.
Joe Shannon, the chair of the Northern Arizona chapter, has said it is the position of the local Sierra Club chapter that the urban trail should be preserved purely for non-motorized use.
However, according to Arizona law, if there are 10 or more businesses of the same type, the councilmember does not have a conflict of interest. Including Shimoni's business, there are at least 10 that sell bikes in Flagstaff
For his part, Shimoni said he does not believe he has a conflict of interest, adding the vast majority of the bikes he has sold are not e-bikes.
“I don’t see any issue at all, to be honest,” Shimoni said.