Lehigh Valley

Lower Saucon approves ordinance allowing eBikes on Saucon Rail Trail

LOWER SAUCON TWP., Pa. - The Lower Saucon Township Council amended its ordinance to allow Class 1 eBikes on its 1.4-mile section of the Saucon Rail Trail.

Councilors approved the amendment with a 3-1 vote Wednesday night.

The council had received an anonymous letter from an organization called Mothers Against Rail Trail eBikes, opposing the use of the electric powered two-wheelers.

Steve LaBrake, who owns Saucon Valley Bikes in Hellertown and is a member of the Saucon Rail Trail Oversight Commission, said the bikes are safe and noiseless.

“It’s not a dangerous machine,” LaBrake said after wheeling an eBike into the meeting room.

He said a lot of fear about them is due to a lack of education. He said they differ greatly from homemade gas-powered bicycles.

Hellertown Mayor David Heintzelman endorsed the use of eBikes on the trail.

“You will never hear them,” he said. “They’re as safe as the person riding it.”

Heintzelman said the extra push from the motor allows him to keep up with his daughters and also to disengage from the motor to pedal normally.

“(It’s a safe way to exercise) and be one with your children,” he said.

The 7.5-mile trail connects Hellertown, Lower Saucon Township, Upper Saucon Township and Coopersburg. Hellertown and Upper Saucon Township have also taken action to allow eBikes on their sections of the Saucon Rail Trail.

Council President Priscilla deLeon agreed with Heintzelman and LaBrake that opening the trail to those who couldn’t fully enjoy the trail without an eBike would make sense.

Council member Donna Louder, who previously expressed a concern about the safety of eBikes modified with parts purchased online, cast the dissenting vote. Council Vice President Ryan Stauffer was absent.

Fireworks

The council unanimously amended its ordinance regulating the use of fireworks.

Solicitor B. Lincoln Treadwell said the amended ordinance tracks the language of Pennsylvania’s fireworks law, which was passed in October 2017.

The change places a curfew on the use of consumer fireworks such as bottle rockets, firecrackers, and Roman candles – which can now be bought in the state – from between 10 p.m. and 9 a.m.

Fireworks set off by licensed professional pyrotechnicians can last no more than 30 minutes and occur between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. and must be launched from a five-acre lot or larger. Fireworks must be launched from the permitted property and must explode over that land. All debris must also land on the permitted site.

Even with a permit, which costs $250, the amended ordinance states that fireworks cannot be launched when winds are gusting over 20 mph.

Only one fireworks display permit will be issued per quarter for a particular property.

Violators could face a fine of between $500 and $1,000. Treadwell acknowledged that the ordinance will not be easy to enforce. By the time a call is made about potential violators, “they’re gone,” he said. “It’s not going to catch everybody.”

Police Chief Thomas Barndt agreed that enforcement will be challenging but noted that enforcement can still come from residents who are willing to testify in court.


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