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  • Chris Belcher

Electronic Vehicle Riders Work For More Trail Access

Michael Vu, Jeff Carrero and Thiana Fierro are working to make sure personal electric vehicle riders have access to San Antonio trails.

San Antonio prohibits all motorized vehicles except electric bicycles and motorized vehicles exempted under the Americans with Disabilities Act from trails and parks. Texas law gives electric bicycles access to the same places as a bicycle. Michael Vu wants the same access as electric bikes for personal electric vehicles.

What I’ve been fighting for, for the past five years is treat these personal electric vehicles the same way you would a bike or even an electric bike,” said Vu.

Vu has been working to get the law changed since 2017. He wasn’t successful initially a need for the legislation wasn’t apparent to those involved in transportation.

But things have changed since then.

Vu said, “A lot has changed with scooters. So hopefully we’ll go back to the legislature for this next year again and get something passed. To where these (electric personal vehicles) can now be permitted to use basically anywhere a bicycle is permitted to ride.”

Carrero and Fierro, the owners of Rent E-board San Antonio, are working on educating people about PEVs to help with access issues.

Carrero says it’s not about the top speed or danger of PEVs compared to bicycles.

“It’s not about speed or us being more dangerous because we’re actually more narrow and we can fit in tighter spaces than a bicycle. We can also brake a lot quicker than a bicycle and we can also maneuver on a dime,” he said.

Vu also feels that PEVs are as safe as bicycles.

“Ultimately what you care about these prohibitions is safety. Everyone wants to be safe but what’s it mean to be safe when we ride,” Vu said, “I feel there are three characteristics when it comes to the type of vehicle you are riding. That’s the size of the vehicle. How big is it? The weight of the vehicle and how fast can that vehicle potentially go?”

“So, when these personal electric vehicles are no bigger than a bike and probably don’t weigh as much as a bike or e-bike. We’re talking about less than a hundred pounds. And has a top speed that doesn’t rival any road bike that can go up to forty miles an hour. Then for all intents and purposes they’re just as safe as bicycles. So, if they’re just as safe then therefore they should be entitled to (use) the same areas that a regular bicycle can,” he added.

Fierro said, “It comes down to educating the city on what a one-wheel is, educating the mountain bikers that say we shouldn’t be on here. It’s simply about education.”

Carrero also runs the San Antonio Facebook group for one-wheelers, San Antonio OneWheel Group. The Facebook group brings the local PEV community together for group rides and shares news that’s important for PEV riders.

Fierro believes that managing the group and running their business is a part of the future. The future of one-wheel and personal electric vehicles on the greenway.

“Trail stewards let us know, you’re not supposed to be on here but it’s like one of those well are we? Are we really not supposed to be on here? You know there’s that gray area we want to be able to cross, we don’t want it to go backwards. As a community, as a group, as business owners we feel we have the platform to do that,” said Fierro.

Fierro, Carrero and Vu have the platform to educate the public about personal electric vehicles. They’re using their platform to get access for them and other PEV riders in San Antonio. They want the same access others get. They want to be able to ride the same places bicycles do without being told they don’t belong.

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Mar 07, 2023

Don’t feel too bad about a Trail Steward telling you a PEV doesn’t belong on the trail. Yesterday a friend and I were riding e-bikes and we passed a Trail Steward that caught up to us when we stopped to figure out how far we were from our turn around point and he told us that if it has a throttle and not JUST pedal assist then it isn’t allowed on the trail.

I have a call into Parks and Recreation Department to get the official version.

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