On final reading on Tuesday night, Key Bicayne’s Village Council approved new restrictions on powered scooters and e-bikes with a first offense remaining at $75, a second offense of $150 and – this is the big change – a third and subsequent offense of $500.
Yet, the Council amended the law so that non-motorized bicycles can be ridden in the park except on grass or turf fields.
But the discussion wasn’t without a bit of drama as council members worried that the common bicyclist – characterized as non-motorized in the proposal – could be caught in the web. A parent, for example, teaching a tot to ride a tricycle could end up facing a fine.
“Those motorized bikes? Yes, of course, take those out. As far as I’m concerned, I’d love to take them out all together,” Council Member Fernando Vazquez said. “But the kids and their bicycles playing in the park?”
Police Chief Frank Sousa looked like he was ready to release a heavy sigh at the podium as he told council members bicyclists have never been allowed on the Village Green – the main park of concern – but that the rule was rarely enforced.
Then came the discussion about motorized bicycles and scooters.
Sousa said since motorized bicycles can also be self-propelled, all manner of bicycles were included in the amended ordinance.
“I don’t think the intent of what we were trying to resolve in a public safety fashion was to stop the young five or six year olds from riding their bicycle in the park,” Sousa said. “The intent is, we have motorized scooters and electric bicycles that some people ride irresponsibly.”
Key Bicayne police earlier had launched an education campaign that included two community meetings, meetings with educators and 400 warnings. When that failed, officers started ticketing crying students – and dealing with argumentative parents – in a February trial crackdown.
Sousa said last month that no repeat offender tickets have been written.
There was also no further discussion on Council Member Moss’ proposal at an earlier meeting to revive a plan to expand scooter and e-bike restrictions.
In casting a ‘no’ vote, Moss alluded to his earlier proposal.
“This is not going far enough,” he said. “You know, somebody’s going to come here and it’s going to be a horrible incident,” he said.
State Rep. Vicki Lopez, who represents Key Biscayne, proposed a Florida law to make it easier to regulate scooters and e-bikes but she withdrew it, citing lack of support from the Republican House leadership.
The Village had its lobbyist push the bill because it wanted further restrictions and is now working with Miami-Dade to coordinate restrictions.
JOHN PACENTI is the executive editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV. You can reach him at [email protected]