Three e-scooters, a bicycle a pedestrian, and a dachshund share a croweded path on the Key Biscayne Village Green, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023. (KBI Photo/Tony Winton)
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A move to tighten regulation of scooters and e-bikes on Crandon Boulevard has hit a legal snag,  even as a federal study is showing that injuries involving the devices are soaring. There is also growing concern in Congress about e-bikes and electronic scooters catching fire. 

Key Biscayne is an epicenter for micromobility, where electric e-bikes and e-scooters fly around the Village amidst pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Despite regulations banning the devices from Village parks, complaints are common and it remains an issue that has eluded a solution so far.

A proposed memorandum of agreement that would have allowed the Village to regulate the road as one of its own was rejected by the County Attorney’s Office, Village Manager Steve Williamson said Thursday.

Now Key Biscayne is working with Commissioner Raquel Regalado to amend the County’s ordinance governing Crandon Boulevard near the Village. “It’s not moving anywhere near as fast as I want,” Williamson said.

The Village got behind State Rep. Vicki Lopez’s effort last year to pass a state law to make it easier for municipalities to regulate e-bikes and scooters, but the bill died in committee. 

The Council last spring banned e-bikes in parks – notably the village Green, the central playing fields. The Council could expand enforcement to Village-controlled streets but so far elected officials have only threatened to go there.

Police Chief Frank Sousa has said few parents and children attend the department’s routine safety seminars for e-bikes and scooters.

“Are we waiting for a tragic accident to happen for us to finally do something?” Council Member Fernando Vazquez asked during the November Council meeting involving micro-mobility devices on Key Biscayne. “Are we waiting for a tragic accident to happen for us to finally do something?”

Now Key Biscayne is working with Commissioner Raquel Regalado to amend the County’s ordinance governing Crandon Boulevard near the Village. “It’s not against not moving anywhere near as fast as I wanted,” Williamson said.

The U.S. e-bike market size is valued at $1.98 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow some 15% a year from 2023 to 2030, according to Grandview Research. The U.S. electric scooter market is estimated at $1.4 billion.

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The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission updated its statistics in September, reporting that injuries associated with micro-mobility devices increased 21% between 2021 and 2022.

Nearly half – 46% – of all e-bike injuries between 2017 and 2022 occurred in just the last year data was compiled. Children 14 years and younger accounted for 36% of micro-mobility injuries during the five-year span.

In total, there were nearly 361,000 emergency department visits with fractures and contusions the most common injury. 

CPSC found 45 of 314 of its field investigations involved the device catching fire. Nationally, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recorded 19 deaths linked to micro-mobility fires from Jan. 1, 2021, through Nov. 28, 2022.

This week a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to implement safety standards for manufacturing the small but powerful lithium batteries. 

Gabe Knight, safety policy analyst for Consumer Reports, told UPI.com  that in New York City alone, 267 fires and 18 deaths linked to unsafe lithium-ion batteries in micro-mobility devices occurred in 2023  “Tragically, some of those deaths involved children,” he said. 

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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.

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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.