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are electric-assist bicycles really banned from Mountain View bike paths?

Original post made by resident, Old Mountain View, on Apr 14, 2014

Mr. Roadshow in the Mercury-News this morning says that electric-assist bicycles are banned from all bike paths in Mountain View. Is this really true? Web Link

Comments (44)

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Posted by Tom
a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 14, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Yes, motor vehicles are banned from using the bike/pedestrian trail.


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Posted by Occasional cyclist
a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 14, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Hope that motor vehicles also means motorized scooters for the elderly and disabled.

I personally think it is wrong to ban these vehicles as any form of transport that gets people out of their cars is worth promoting. I have used one of these electric bikes and far from being a motorized vehicle, it is more like a regular bicycle with the capability of using a motor to help get up a hill rather than something to use all the time.

If the council is keen to get people to bike rather than drive, then it should rethink the policy.


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 14, 2014 at 6:19 pm

An electric assisted bicycle is a "motorized vehicle"? It absolutely is not and has the same rules as a bicycle.

Tom..please research your facts before posting them. Spreading ignorance all over Mountain View is done enough already!


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Posted by resident
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 14, 2014 at 8:25 pm

@Hmmm - the Mercury-News article does say that bicycles with any amount of motor are banned from all bike paths in Mountain View. Have you heard differently from city officials?


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 14, 2014 at 8:52 pm

eeeh gads!!! Mountain View really, really, really sucks.

Here is the local law:
Web Link

How the heck does a bicycle with an electric assist get lumped in with gasoline powered mopeds?! Ridiculous!!!

Everybody needs to write the city and ask why this law came to be...


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Posted by Good rule
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 16, 2014 at 11:25 am

I think the fear is that it will go from leisurely walking/pedaling trail, to alternative expressway for electric commuters...just as the original user wanted to do.
As a frequent user in the mornings with my toddler, I think its good to have this rule.


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Posted by Jenn B
a resident of Whisman Station
on Apr 20, 2014 at 6:07 am

Stevens Creek between Central Expressway and downtown is so winding that no bicyclist can manage much more than 10 mph. It's why my family doesn't commute on that stretch. The connector from Easy St to Central Ave under 85 is essential to bikes in my neighborhood. My family (1 adult bike with trail-a-bike, 1 cargo bike with kids in the back) commute through there every day of the week.
If the concern is bicycles speeding along the path, speed limits would be far more effective than banning electric assists. Electric assisted bikes don't go any faster than other bike enthusiasts. The motor on my bike makes it possible for me to haul two preschoolers into MV, shop, and take us all home again.


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Posted by Biking
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2014 at 10:07 am

Jenn has a good point. The fastest bikes I've seen are *not* electric assisted. In fact, the non-electric assisted bikes are much more tuned for speed anyway...

It just seems to be another silly rule that is discouraging people from using their bikes...


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Posted by parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 20, 2014 at 5:46 pm

Some electric-assist bikes are tuned for speed (like upwards of 30mph without pedalling or with minimal pedalling). Some just use the boost to help carry cargo up hills at low speeds. I'm not opposed to allowing the latter type of bikes on bike paths, but we need very carefully defined state-wide laws regarding powerful electric bikes (really electric mopeds or electric motorcycles). Do these definitions and laws already exist? If not, why not?

I have read that Segways are allowed on Mountain View bike paths. What is the top speed of s Segway?


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Posted by parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:30 am

Here's an example of an electric-assist bicycle with a top speed of 36mph. Bikes are built in Santa Clara. Mercury-News report: Web Link


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Posted by ParentWhoReads
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:44 am

Unlike 'parent' who writes much yet knows little, it is important to note that standard road bikes can go over 60 mph on flat roads... This knee-jerk reaction over electric bikes is sad.. Fortunately, not all parents are that addle-minded...


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Posted by Better for All
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:54 am

Right, and with so much variance and technical developments going into the future, its going to be impossible to try and keep up with what vehicles are OK and which are not. It would be impossible to enforce without much increased cost to the city.
Given that the trail is NOT and was NEVER intended to be used as an electric commute expressway, its smart to limit use of the trail as originally intended, with only human powered users.
Electric powered/assist bikes have their place, but not on recreation trails.


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Posted by SB
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Apr 21, 2014 at 11:40 am

Agree with Better for All.

Here's another example of an electric bike:

Web Link


Certainly would not want to share a recreation trail with those.


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Posted by Progress
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 21, 2014 at 12:31 pm

Indeed the world of electric personal vehicles seems to get more crowded every day. Google the word combo "electric skateboard" for further recent examples.

One of those products ("Onewheel") is from a local start-up firm, subject of a recent Voice article with photos. I saw a rider on some other type of electric skateboard recently on a downtown-area street, heading away from the train station. Unusual (so far) to see a skateboarder slow to a stop at a cross-street, then start up again with an electric motor, both feet always on the board.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm

I agree with parentwhoreads. I have been ran over inconsiderate parents with baby buggies far more often than bikers or even electric assist bikes. We should ban those on trails before electric bikes.


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Posted by Referee
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 21, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Some real interesting ideas adding to the mix today. On tap: banning strollers from the recreational trail in favor of motored vehicles.
Nice to know the mindset of those offering advice.
No personal bias working there at all I'm sure.


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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of another community
on Apr 21, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Electric bicycles, segways, etc. are going to become more and more common as a means of commuting. Likewise pedal bikes ridden by lycra clad speeding racers. Perhaps pathways could be divided so that those with feet are one side and those with wheels another.

Speed limits for all pathways makes a lot more sense.


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Posted by Better for All
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 21, 2014 at 1:18 pm

You can't use them on the Los Gatos Creek trail either to my knowledge, or most any of the recreational trails that I'm aware of. This is by design and is consistent with proper planning and use

One must consider the kind of use the trail was designed for: Recreational with strolling people leisurely enjoying the day? Motored vehicles are a poor fit for that use. Trails designed for motored vehicles? Leisure strollers are not a good fit there.

Buying the new technology doesn't mean you're entitled to start using it where ever YOU decide is proper, especially if it conflicts with the current design/use of an area.


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Posted by Jeff
a resident of Gemello
on Apr 21, 2014 at 9:15 pm

Banning electrical assisted bikes is just a symptom of ignorance. There is no evidence that they are any more dangerous than regular bicycles. More progressive cities will prove that and MV will be pulled reluctantly into the 21st century.

In the meantime, let's focus all of our energies on building out roads so large single driver/no passenger vehicles can pass unimpeded though our city. That will show the world how 'advanced' MV is.


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Posted by ME and MY needs
a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 22, 2014 at 6:29 am

Some here still are not getting the point. The SC trail and LG Creek trial are the best examples of RECREATIONAL trails. They were never intended as commute corridors for electric vehicles.
Yes, I agree electric assist bikes are great. We have bike lanes that will accommodate them perfectly and not come into conflict of use between the intended users of the trails(recreational) and the wanted useof a small minority (electric assist commuters).
As you can see, this policy has really turned these recreational trails into unpopular failures, eh? haha. That's an obvious joke.
See you on the trail, that is as long as you leave your irritating whirring motors at home as is required on This is not just a MV thing, its intelligent use planning, and seems to be the rule on every recreational trail I checked on in the area.


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Posted by Jeff
a resident of Gemello
on Apr 22, 2014 at 10:40 am

Great. Since the intelligent people in this discussion write that the trails were not designed for commuting, we must stop all of the awful googlers who are misusing Stevens creek trail for exactly that purpose.

Please explain why that non-recreational purpose is allowable, but not being able to use an electric assist bike? Do I need to own several special purpose bikes and have to use one for each type of trail?

Come on people.....


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Posted by Simple to understand
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 22, 2014 at 11:10 am

Its not what they are doing, its what they are doing it on. All human powered vehicles are welcome on our local recreational trails throughout Santa Clara county. No motored vehicles are allowed on these same recreational trails. Its such a simple thing to understand if you look at the use and user groups...the reason they built the trail to begin with.

Why do these few motored vehicle users suddenly think the trails purpose has changed simply because some new toy gets invented?
Hell, I could drive my 600cc motor cycle on it safely without question, but that doesn't mean I should be allowed to.

What is wrong with the bike lanes? That's a far more appropriate place to be. Even the bike commuters I know opt for the bike lanes at peak times to avoid strolling pedestrians on the trail. Other days they'll use the trail with their kids for family rides, or stroller walks, or playing with skates or scooters. Its a nice quiet place devoid of buzzing/whirring acceleration that comes from motored vehicles.


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Posted by Duh
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 22, 2014 at 12:53 pm

I agree with simpletounderstand
An electric assisted bicycle is exactly the same as a 600c motorcycle.


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Posted by Explaining the obvious
a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 22, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Actually the analogy was that the motorcycle and the motored bicycle COULD both be operated safely, but neither should be allowed on a recreational trail.


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Posted by Duh
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 22, 2014 at 5:28 pm

Wow. Thanks for clarifying... What a strong argument to ban something! What a lovely world you and your kind are making for us...


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Posted by Soothing the poor vicitm
a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 23, 2014 at 6:26 am

OK then, enjoy. Besides, its not my idea, its county wide.

Seems some feel entitled to do whatever they want because THEY feel its right, despite the law. That's classic entitlement. I encourage you to try and change what you do not agree with, but caution you that when this was brought up in 2008, a resounding number of people were opposed to allowing motored vehicles on the trail as were the Council members. Maybe YOU can persuade people if the argument is compelling enough. So ar it has not been.
See you on the trail...or not.


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Posted by Duh
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 23, 2014 at 9:59 am

"Soothing the poor vicitm"

What is a vicitm? I hope you don't vote. We need an educated and informed electorate and not voters who make up words and think that 600cc motorcycles and electrical assist bicycles are exactly the same thing.

With people like you, this country would still have people enslaved, women not voting, different bathrooms for different races...all because fearful people like you would yell and express baseless fear.

Let's move into the 21st century...wait..how about the 20th century and cast off our (really your) ignorance and make this city great again!


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Posted by Why not
a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 23, 2014 at 10:05 am

Which cities allow motored vehicles of this nature on their recreational trails? Do any?


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Posted by Bwahaha
a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 23, 2014 at 10:17 am

Yes yes, its simply too bad that the SC trail has been such an unpopular failure. Its too bad this crown jewel of MV, beloved and used by all in its current state is really bringing down the greatness of Mtn View. Its just a shame isn't it?. Every day I hear people complaining about how bad it is and how they wished it had motorized vehicles on it. Oh, wait...no, its actually just one person complaining...one person who's angry that HE can't use his motored bike. He feels he is entitled to use it, but I'm glad no change to the no motor policy is even being considered, despite the efforts of the motorized few.


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Posted by Duh
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 23, 2014 at 10:32 am

Some unintelligent commenters continue to call electric assist bicycles "motorized vehicles" and compare riding them on trails as equivalent to driving powerful and loud motorcycles.

If the aforementioned ignorant would research this a bit, they would learn that these so-called "motorized vehicles" have a max speed of 20mph!!!! They must also have fully operational pedals!!!

The point of electrical assist bikes is to provide occasional and intermittent use of stored electrical power to ASSIST with forward motion.

Road bikes can go in excess of 60 mph on flat roads and they are not outlawed. These bikes are actually safer than fully manual bikes.

Relevant california state code:

"Section 406(b) VC refers to a motorized bicycle as a device that has fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power and has an electric motor that:
Has a power output of not more than 1,000 watts;
Is incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour on level ground; and
Is incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power is used to propel the motorized bicycle faster than 20 miles per hour."

Most cities allow them on bike trails similar to Stevens creek. Even San Francisco allows them over the Golden Gate Bridge !!!


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Posted by Then this should be easy
a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 23, 2014 at 10:51 am

OK. A vehicle with a motor. There.

"Most cities allow them on bike trails similar to Stevens creek."
I don't know of any and would be interested in a seeing a list of 3 or 4 of these.

The Golden Gate Bridge is a BIKE LANE which was the suggested use earlier for these vehicles with motors, so it looks like we're reaching an agreement.
Bike lanes are the logical place for these vehicles with motors.


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Posted by Are you a man of action?
a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 23, 2014 at 10:59 am

Bring it up at the next City Council meeting. If enough people share your views, you can move fwd and try and get vehicles with motors allowed on the trail. The citizenry will tell you if they share your views.


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Posted by Duh
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm

Nobody suggested legalizing "vehicles with motors" on the Stevens creek trail. That would allow mopeds, motorcycles, cars, trucks, etc...

It sounds like you are anti-bike. They will be legalized eventually on the trail. I don't own one, but if I did, then I would like to use the bike trails . It's a bike, not a 600cc motorcycle!!!


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Posted by OK then
a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 23, 2014 at 2:25 pm

So get on it. See you at the Council meeting.


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Posted by Don't forget
a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 23, 2014 at 2:38 pm

BTW, still waiting on a few names regarding this claim:
"Most cities allow them on bike trails similar to Stevens creek."

Which specific cities and trails are you referring to?


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Posted by Biker
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 24, 2014 at 1:03 am

99.9pct of cities across America allow ebikes on their mixed used bike/ped trails and pathways. Mountain view is the only Bay Area city with an outright ban. Some will not ban the ebike, bit require that only pedal power be used in some areas.

It's interesting to note that New York City banned them partly because when ebikes have the battery providing thrust, it is so much quieter than a regular bike!

In my new residence here, I have noticed a great deal of fear about innovation. Maybe after the next election, there will be some new blood that won't succumb to the political pressure of these fearful few...


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Posted by We are the .1%!
a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 24, 2014 at 6:40 am

99.9% you say? Really?

So I did 3 minutes of checking and it looks like you cannot ride them on ANY Santa Clara county recreational trail.

You cannot use them on ANY Alameda County paved trail:
Web Link
"With the exception of wheelchairs and mobility vehicles, motorized or electric-powered scooters, bikes or other motorized vehicles are prohibited.

You also cannot freely use them in arguably the most bike progressive cities in the nation, Seattle.

Web Link
"No, city officials say. They're not allowed because the Burke-Gilman Trail is intended for people-powered transportation, Seattle Parks and Recreation Department spokeswoman Dewey Potter said. "It is a rule and not a law, and there is some expectation that people will respect their fellow pedestrians and cyclists," she said. Motorized foot scooters also are not allowed in bicycle lanes or on park pathways intended for recreation, according to the Seattle Department of Transportation. That includes the Burke-Gilman Trail. Someone busted for riding an electric-powered scooter on some public trails would likely get a $124 ticket for violating a Washington Administrative Code. "


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Posted by Duh
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 24, 2014 at 9:37 am

Let's review the latest anti-bike propaganda ignorance from our bailey park friend:

"So I did 3 minutes of checking and it looks like you cannot ride them on ANY Santa Clara county recreational trail."

Wow! 3 whole minutes of research before cramming your uninformed opinion down our throats! Santa Clara county is not a city!!!! The previous poster was talking about cities! Maybe you should spend 3 minutes researching basic word definitions??

"You cannot use them on ANY Alameda County paved trail:"

OMG. There she goes again! Does this woman really not get that a city and county are different!!?

"You also cannot freely use them in arguably the most bike progressive cities in the nation, Seattle. Motorized foot scooters also are not allowed in bicycle lanes or on park pathways intended for recreation, according to the Seattle Department of...."

OMG! Can you not read English? The only thing banned BY LAW are electric foot scooters. That is not an electric assist bicycle.

Bailey Park poster must be a troll. She can't be that uneducated, can she???


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Posted by parent
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 24, 2014 at 10:32 am

Part of the problem is that many people are confused about exactly what is an electric bicycle. Is there a legal limit on size, power, and speed? No one wants to see 100 pound, 50mph electric motorcycles on narrow trails. Exactly what is the difference between an electric motorcycle, electric moped, and electric bicycle? Are there legal definitions or only ad hoc definitions?


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Posted by Failed again at listing trails
a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 24, 2014 at 12:21 pm

When one does not have a strong argument, or verifiable links, one picks apart others info as irrelevant.
There has been no single local trail offered as evidence that everyone else lets them be used. Only attempts to prove out of contexts statements false.
Prove your point, don't just try and disprove mine.
My links stand as evidence that there really are not widely accepted as argued by others here either by law or rule. Now its your turn to prove me wrong with your list of local trails allowing use.

See if you can focus. Instead of calling me a troll, shut me up. I expect a some local trails that welcome these bikes with electric motors to be listed in your next post if your argument has any validity at all. I still may consider you a sniveler though, regardless.




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Posted by Huh?
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 24, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Wasn't this issue resolved several years ago? The city decided it was a bad mix to have them on the trail. I thought they might be looking at it again when I read this thread, but then I realized it was just a disgruntled owner who started it, probably trying to stir things up for their cause, but he need to understand where his audience is. There is no plan on revisiting this issue by the city and nothing posted here will make them do it. If you want change, work for it and address the council directly. if you don't care enough to do that, then you simply don't care enough and neither will others.


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Posted by Biker
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 24, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Great question parent!

While some have equated an electric assist bicycle with a 600cc motorcycle, the state of california has a very conservative definition that should ease the safety concerns of all but the most anti-bicycle folk.

Relevant california state code:

"Section 406(b) VC refers to a motorized bicycle as a device that has fully operative pedals for propulsion by human power and has an electric motor that:
Has a power output of not more than 1,000 watts;
Is incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour on level ground; and
Is incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power is used to propel the motorized bicycle faster than 20 miles per hour."

So this means that if the battery is powering the 'motor', the speed of the bike cannot exceed 20mph. Contrast this to road bikes (without a battery) that can exceed 60mph!

The electric-assist bike is exactly that. It is primarily a pedal power bicycle that from time-to-time can provide some forward power. This is in no way a Tesla automobile that can go from 0-60 in a few seconds or exceed 100mph! Also, the battery is so small that it can't be used continually anyway.

(Let's ignore the anti-bike troll and have a healthy discussion.)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Don't talk to yourself
a resident of Bailey Park
on Apr 24, 2014 at 1:01 pm

They aren't really allowed anywhere around here are they? I'm sorry if my reality conflicts with your desires.
Evidence is greatly lacking by those who claim widely accepted use. Still.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sad
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 8, 2014 at 7:57 am

This thread surprises me and makes me sad

1) I'd bet that 95% of the cyclists on the trail M-F during rush hour are commuting. In fact, I see many elementary school kids biking themselves to school (which is a commute). Hard to imagine that people are suggesting to get these commuters (kids and adults) off the trail during the week.

2) I just purchased a cargo bike with e-assist. 99% of the time, I will be using my own sweat & pedals to power to bike. On a rare occasion that I can't get up an overpass, I like the option of getting a slow & safe e-boost up the hill. I already have a beach cruiser bike (like a tank) with 1 gear and I feel like I'm about to blow out my knee when I struggle up an overpass. The 3 min e-boost is to prevent an injury not to recklessly pass-up people.

For me the trail is the quickest and safest way around town.


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