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Proposed e-bike, motorized scooter ban in Key Biscayne passes first reading

A child rides an electric scooter to schoo
Tony Winton
A child rides an electric scooter to school, Feb. 16, 2023. The Village Council has a temporary ban on scooters and e-bikes in place, but a proposed ordinance would extend the restrictions until August, 2025

Story updated at 9:45 a.m., May 15. UPDATE: The ordinance passed on first reading Tuesday, 6-1. Council Member Ed London cast the lone ‘no’ vote, arguing for an exception for Class 1 e-bikes.

Stopping short of a permanent ban on e-bikes and motorized scooters, Key Biscayne Village Manager Steve Williamson is recommending restrictions that would expire next year in the hope state law will give a future Council different — and more nuanced — regulatory options.

The draft ordinance up for consideration Tuesday — for the first time — would allow the Village to impound the battery-powered “micromobility” devices if they are used in violation of the restrictions.

READ MORE: Is there a compromise over Key Biscayne's E-bike & scooter law?

The draft document circulated by the Village administration says restrictions will “sunset” on Aug. 30, 2025, which means the devices would become legal again on that date unless the ordinance is modified or extended.

Several council members have said that if the Florida Legislature makes changes to micromobility laws, the Village could consider age restrictions instead of an outright ban. A measure to grant municipalities the power to do that passed the Florida House of Representatives, but died in the state Senate. A survey conducted by the Independent found some support for a relaxation of the ban if the devices could be better regulated.

State Rep. Vicki Lopez, who represents Key Biscayne, said she will introduce the measure again in the next Legislative session that starts in March 2025.

A temporary ban on battery-powered devices has been in place since Feb. 16. It was adopted after the death of resident Megan Andrews, a tutor who was killed in acollision with an e-bike. Authorities ruled the crash an accident. The ordinance spells out fines of $250 rising to $500 for subsequent offenses, which would be carried through to the semi-permanent ban.

New in the proposed ordinance is a reference to the island’s main thoroughfare, Crandon Boulevard. The section cites a new County code, sought by the Village, that bans sidewalk operation but lets the device operators use bicycle lanes on Crandon.

In an unprecedented grant of authority, the new County law also allows Key Biscayne to craft its own rules for Crandon, subject to County approval. Williamson has said based on Council input, he will come back with ideas for additional rules covering Crandon, but he did not offer specifics.

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

Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc.
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