How Do You Feel About E-Bikes Being Allowed on Sidewalks in Florida?

Video Transcription:

Hi, it's Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. So what do you think about e-bikes on the sidewalk, Florida? You know, the good news is this year, the legislature did address the issue of what is an e-bike. They clarified some of the definition issues of a bicycle in the legislature. There was a seat post height that sort of excluded height recumbents from the strict definition. They took care of that. And they made e-bikes, to make clear really that e-bikes and bicycles are the same and that they share the same rights and responsibilities so that an e-bike can go wherever a bicycle can go in terms of the public streets, highways and sidewalks. That's raised a lot of eyebrows with people and a lot of controversy back and forth about whether they should have permitted e-bikes to be on the sidewalk. And, I’m going to address that here in just a second.

The good news is that this legislation cleared up some issues. There was an issue about seat height, the definition of a bicycle, technically didn't include recumbent bikes because of the seat height they described. They took care of that, and it's important, remember from an insurance standpoint that if you're on an e-bike, that it be classified as a bicycle. Otherwise, it falls into the category of some type of a motorized scooter, which raises licensing and insurance and tagging implication. So having it as a bicycle makes things simpler, qualifies for the uninsured motorist coverage on your car, if you were hit by a vehicle.

So it simplifies everything, but in the process, what they did it was, they adopted the people for cycling, or it's People for Bikes' national policy that there should be three classes of e-bikes. Okay. So now we have a class one, the bike is a pedal-assisted to 20 miles an hour. So at 20 miles an hour, the motor is to disengaged. Now, if you want to go faster it's how much can you push this heavy bike? Class two is a throttle only e-bike so you can ride there's certain brands that are throttle only. You don't have to pedal, and they'll go up to 20 miles an hour and that's a class two e-bike, but then they went ahead and passed the class three e-bike, which is a pedal-assisted to 28 miles an hour. Now that's where a little bit of the rub coming in with a lot of people because 28 miles an hour is pretty quick. There's a lot an unease about people riding 28 miles an hour. I've never been that fast, and do they have the capability to do it and skills and maturity and all that. What do they do when they ride in a group? This raises a lot of implications for our clubs, but yet we do have a class three e-bike. But the issue then is so an e-bike is permitted to ride on the sidewalk like a bicycle. They also change the used to be that someone under 16 could not ride an e-bike. They took that out of the statute. That means kids are permitted to ride these things. They go pretty fast and now they're permitted on the sidewalk.

Now, before we get too hyperventilating about that, and I've had a, I did a tidbit on this last week and got quite a bit of traffic from people. I only had a couple of people who have had sort of the favorable view of this. Most people are opposed to it for a variety of reasons, many of which are quite obvious. So the legislature did give cities, municipalities, and what have you, what they call home rule authority. So in our current law, a city can prohibit bicycles from being on the public sidewalks in certain areas of the town. St. Augustine does this, I know, I think Sarasota does this. I know there's a number of communities that will do this. So there's going to be signs posted that says no bicycling on the sidewalk, and this is mostly in the downtown core where there's heavy foot traffic. St. Augustine, particularly we have all these tourists and what have you. So, they do have the ability to go back on a local charter ordinance situation and prohibit e-bikes on the sidewalk. I think that's going to be in the works in a number of places.

I know this is being addressed by the FBA and some other people are in the works were doing that as to what can we do to give cities the assistance they need to make their citizens feel safe by eliminating or prohibiting these fast-moving vehicles on the sidewalk. I think that's going to just watch, and if you feel strongly about this, I would suggest you get in touch with your local government to see what they're going to do and what their position is, and whether they're going to move forward with some sort of an ordinance to try to limit e-bikes on the sidewalk.

You know, there's a lot of implications with any bike on the sidewalk. Not only are they fast, but they're heavy, you know, many of them way more than 50 pounds, 65 pounds. You know, there's a lot of physics involved. You get something going, is that heavy going that quickly, it doesn't match mesh very well when they come into contact with a pedestrian or a child or a dog, or a lot of other things, it could be on this, on our sidewalks.

So, I'm just curious if you have strong feelings about this. I welcome your input to me. I welcome you getting in touch with your local municipality to see what they're doing and what you can do to help them accomplish what needs to be done. I am grateful to the legislature for clarifying what an e-bike is. So I think it's necessary and a good step for the legislature to have defined e-bikes. We needed that to have been done. It puts Florida in the camp of many states. This is a popular classification class one, two, and three. Puts Florida, you know, where most states are that I'm aware of, I'm not studying every state obviously, but, People for Bikes has supported this legislation and they've lobbied heavily around the country for it. So I think it's a good thing. Now we have to address the issue, you know, and it's kind of an interesting observation. One of the senators supporting the legislation said, you know, my car goes 130 miles an hour, but I don't drive it that fast. The implication is that even though your bike make a 20 or even 28, people aren't going to be riding that fast on the sidewalks. I think most people don't feel that confident but that's always going to be the case. I think every municipality has an interest in, they know where they want and where they don't want bicycles and they know where the dangers are, and I think that's open to be taken care of in this legislation.

So I think something good is going to come out of it. The cities are going to take, pick up the mantle and do what's necessary for their own area, which is exactly what the legislature intended. A lot of places, it's perfectly fine for bikes to be on sidewalks, but in the higher density population areas, clearly that's not true. I think it will be resolved. So if you have strong feelings about it, I'd love to hear from you.

I think this is a step forward, but you know, I'm Jim Dodson, The Florida Bike Guy. We represent cyclists whether you've been injured on a bike or an e-bike or in a vehicle accident anywhere in Florida, just let me know. I'll be there for you. I'm only a phone call away. Be safe out there, and I'll see you next time. Thank you! Bye.

 

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.