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Key Biscayne bans e-bikes and scooters

Key Biscayne residents gather at village meeting
KBI Photo
Tony Winton
An overflow crowd of residents back a hearing to ban e-bikes and e-scooters in the wake of a fatal crash that took the life of a cyclist. The measure passed unamimously

Two days after a beloved island tutor was killed in a collision with an e-bike, Key Biscayne’s Council banned all micro-mobility devices, effective immediately.

With the family of the deceased Megan Andrews in the front row, the Council’s unanimous vote was deemed a public safety emergency.

The emergency ordinance is in place for up to 60 days, but council members plan to make the ban permanent in March, with the additional sanction of impounding the devices. Tickets will start at $250 for a first violation and $500 violation.

Andrews, 66, was killed in a collision with an e-bike operated by a 12-year old boy. The case remains under investigation by Miami-Dade traffic homicide detectives.

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Elected officials for two years struggled – without success – to rein in the battery-powered vehicles that can hit speeds of 28 mph. They are mostly operated by children to zip around the community, often ignoring safety rules and menacing pedestrians, residents said.

Several held signs in the audience reading “ban them,” some saying Key Biscayne had become the Wild West of micro-mobility devices.

“I think you failed us, you failed the community, you failed the family and you certainly failed Megan,”said Mark Fried, a prominent resident and friend of the Andrews family, squarely pointing a finger at the Council and the administration.

Village Police Chief Frank Sousa and Manager Steve Williamson initially opposed ideas to ban the devices, opting for education. They said a ban would increase danger by sending the devices onto Crandon Boulevard, which is outside the Village’s power to regulate. They launched a lobbying effort to win jurisdiction over the thoroughfare.

Sousa also said previously his department of 39 officers did not have the manpower to enforce a total ban. A ban in Village parks proved ineffective.

“We’re ready to enforce,” Sousa said after the meeting. “I echo what the community said today.”

“It takes all of us,” Sousa continued. “It’s not just a police issue. Yes, we are the ones that hand out the citations that we need parents, residents, everyone to come together and help us out.”

A crowd standing at a Key Biscayne Council meeting
KBI Photo
John Pacenti
The crowd at the Key Biscayne Council meeting, February 16, 2024. holding signs in support of a scooter and e-bike ban in memory of Megan Andrews, who was killed two days prior when an e-bike collided with her bicycle.

Commissioner Raquel Regalado told council members she will double her efforts to give the municipality power to regulate the devices on the main road.

More than 100 residents packed the Council chambers with the crowd flowing out to the foyer and onto the streets.

Emotions ran high with many choking back tears – including former Mayor Mike Davey — about the loss of Megan Andrews.

“This one really hurts,” Davey said.

State Rep. Vicki Lopez, who introduced an e-bike bill in 2023 only to see it die in committee, said she told her Tallahassee colleagues that Andrew’s death was on their hands. “I was so distraught. This was a needless death,” she said.

Prominent attorney Eugene Stearns pointed the finger at the state Legislature, which he said is failing to act because of lobbyists for the scooter and e-bike industry.

Key Biscayne was always able to ban e-bikes, but it couldn’t fine-tune the rules, such as regulating them by class or driver age. And while officers could issue state traffic citations, that could result in underage drivers losing their ability to get learners permits.

Mayor Joe Rasco, after the meeting, said Key Biscayne is in “a unique situation” with micro-mobility devices. “Not every community can afford these $3,000 vehicles kids are riding,” he said.

At one point the meeting was on the brink of getting out of control.

Police had to escort Karla Vigil-Berger out of Council chambers when the crowd started shouting her down when she voiced opposition to the ban, saying Andrews’ death was due to her not wearing a helmet.

“Everybody wants to take the easy way out. The solution is to educate and set goals,” said Vigil-Berger, who has three teenagers with e-bikes.

Editor’s Note: This updates a previous version with details and quotes.

This story was originally published in the Key Biscayne Independent, a WLRN News partner.

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