Ride Alaska co-owners James King, left, and Reuben Willis, right, speak to the Assembly meeting as the Committee of the Whole Monday evening to discuss their proposed business venture to bring electric-assisted bicycle tours to West Douglas’ Pioneer Road. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Ride Alaska co-owners James King, left, and Reuben Willis, right, speak to the Assembly meeting as the Committee of the Whole Monday evening to discuss their proposed business venture to bring electric-assisted bicycle tours to West Douglas’ Pioneer Road. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

City OKs another step toward proposed Pioneer Road e-bike tours

The company seeks to provide tours three times per day, six days a week during the summer months

A local business’s proposal to bring electric-assisted bicycle tours to West Douglas’ Pioneer Road got one step closer to reality Monday night.

The Assembly meeting as the Committee of the Whole voted to allow the city manager to continue working with applicants and draft an ordinance for a one-year permit with the possibility of renewal.

The proposal will likely be introduced during the Assembly’s next regular meeting on Monday, March 20.

Much discussion has already taken place about the specific application sent in by iRide Alaska and the potential ramifications of OKing commercial use of the gravel road, as currently, the city has no policy allowing or disallowing the use.

Mixed opinions have come from both the Assembly and Juneau community members regarding if tourism ventures should be extended to the road which is currently used by local hikers and outdoor enthusiasts similarly to a trail, though it is technically not considered one.

According to the business permit request originally sent in November, the company plans to offer 90-minute tours on pedal-assist e-bikes three times a day, six days a week barring Sunday, for groups ranging from four to 15 people along with two guides beginning this summer, running from May through October.

The company isn’t new to Juneau, and already offers tours at Rainforest Trail, Mayor Bill Overstreet Park and Eaglecrest Cross-country Ski Trail.

On Monday night, Assembly members Greg Smith and Alicia Hughes-Skandijs voted against moving the application forward, both making similar arguments that they’re not necessarily against the specific idea and the business being proposed, but rather felt the decision to commercialize the road for tourism ventures warranted further discussion before giving the OK.

Other members in support of the application, like Assembly member Wade Bryson, argued that by rejecting the application, the city is sending the message that it’s afraid of the growth of tourism. He said the growth is needed and felt Pioneer Road is a good location and the impact of this proposal is low.

In an interview after the decision, iRide Alaska co-owner Reuben Willis told the Empire he was pleased to see the application move forward, and noted that the company acknowledges the hesitancy expressed by Assembly members and residents.

“We’re very aware of the sensitivity that it brings to many,” he said. “We have tried to balance needs to create very low impact and we believe we can do this in a way that is beneficial to all of Juneau.”

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of May 18

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, May 17, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, May 16, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Students and staff play a kickball game on the field between the Marie Drake Building and Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé on Friday afternoon. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
School district leaders debate biggest needs for extra $5.2M approved by Legislature, in hope governor won’t veto it

Staff for special education and gifted students, homeschooling, paying off city loan high on list.

Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, speaks Wednesday, May 8, on the floor of the Alaska House of Representatives. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
After several deadly drownings, Alaska Legislature votes to require harbor safety ladders

Bill by Rep. Andi Story, D-Juneau, passes on final day of session.

Members of the Thunder Mountain High School culinary arts team prepare their three-course meal during the National ProStart Invitational in Baltimore on April 26-28. (Photo by Rebecca Giedosh-Ruge)
TMHS culinary arts team serves a meal of kings at national competition

Five students who won state competition bring Alaskan crab and salmon to “Top Chef”-style event.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 15, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, listens to discussion on the Senate floor on Wednesday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
A look at some of the bills that failed to pass the Alaska Legislature this year

Parts of a long-term plan to bring state revenue and expenses into line again failed to advance.

Most Read