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During a work session, City Council supported allowing e-bikes only on the paved sections of Flagstaff Urban Trail System (FUTS). But when it came time for the first council vote, this compromise was watered down so only the AZ Trail (AZT) and Buffalo Park would remain e-bike. Then, after the second and final vote, Council directed the staff to bring back a recommendation as to whether whether the vote should be changed!

That time is here. Council will be taking this up again on Oct. 1. In its report to the council, staff now says the city should allow e-bikes on any and all “trails” in the City of Flagstaff. From a process standpoint, this is backwards and confusing. If Council had doubts before the final vote, the more sensible approach would have been to pause and get staff input.

The new recommendation is concerning because the language in federal law that authorizes the AZT as a National Scenic Trail is clear that it MUST be motor free. The city cannot override federal law, so any attempts by the City of Flagstaff to allow motors on it will be met with resistance. The AZT provides needed connectors within the FUTS, which is evidence that the FUTS was planned with a “no motorized travel” mandate.

Turning the FUTS into a transportation corridor in lieu of emphasizing the construction of safe streets in Flagstaff does not take into consideration the expected growth in the city. Both e-bike proponents and those trying to keep the FUTS motor-free have expressed that our streets are not safe for cycling. The response to that comment is that in the past two elections city voters agreed to tax themselves for street maintenance and the new construction of streets. Rather than making our entire FUTS motorized, the city could begin to construct a “complete street,” which is a preferred multi-modal street design for safe cycling.

Sierra Club is a strong advocate for alternative transportation such as e-bikes. However, we are alarmed at the confusing and rushed policymaking process that led to the so-called final vote. The council owes the residents of Flagstaff a more thoughtful, clear and not so rushed policymaking process.

Sincerely,

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Flagstaff N AZ Group – Sierra Club

Executive Committee

Joe Shannon, Marcia Burns, Amelia Hirsch, Robert Baldwin, Debbie McMahon, Carie Steele, Sarah King, Kay Bordwell

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