First Fully Adaptive E-Bike Trail System Opens in Vermont

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A recent article at Bike Mag shared the story of the United States’ first trail system that’s fully compatible with adaptive bikes, or bikes that cater to the needs of the disabled. It features a total of 11 trails, and a total distance of three miles. Even more importantly, nobody loses out, as the new trails are equally enjoyable by both abled and disabled.

Details were a little thin, but I was able to find a nice YouTube video that showed how the trail was built, and some of the skepticism it conquered along the way!

Whether you watched the video or not, it’s obvious that heavy machinery was used to get the job done, like trackhoes. This isn’t the most low-impact way to work your way through a forest and build a trail, but in places where the landscape doesn’t already lend itself well to a trail, this is the only way to get the job done in a reasonable amount of time. Plus, on some sections, it was really the only way to do it at all!

In some ways, the trackhoe is a lot like the adaptive bikes the trail is built for. While it has tracks kind of like a tank, it can’t go into many of these areas until the bucket clears the way first, making the trail for itself as it goes. This leaves enough width for adaptive bikes, and obviously plenty of room for traditional bikes. Then, fine tuning with shovels and rakes is done to make it suitable for bikes and durable to weather (things like water drainage must be accounted for).

Toward the end of the video (and this is the fifth video in a series!), we start to see how the trail works for adaptive e-bike riders. While there’s extra width, it’s no walking path for the elderly. It actually has tough sections, rocks to traverse, and more. The trail wasn’t complete at first, but the rider was able to finish up what they had done so far and then needed some help to get turned around and back up a section only meant for downhill adaptive riding.

What was essential about the testing was that he got feedback. Pretty quickly, the adaptive rider gave him some great ideas about how to improve the trail and make it work better for him. He also got some ideas about how to rate the trail, as the adaptive rider has experience. They decided that it would likely be rated “double black” (a very challenging trail, but not quite “pro”).

At about 1:21:25, we see a normal mountain bike conquer this trail section, and it’s obviously not nerfed for the disabled in any way other than extra width, providing accommodation without kid gloves. At 1:22, we get to see a full lap of the trail. It obviously has some harder lines that many adaptive riders might not be able to use, but gives both them and less adventurous riders (like me) another path. So, everyone can test their skills and have fun to the fullest.

Featured image: a screenshot from the embedded video.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1989 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba