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Fearing a fatality is inevitable, Council Member Fernando Vazquez at Tuesday’s meeting pressed his colleagues to vote on whether to ban motorized scooters and e-bikes from the sidewalks and perhaps even streets of Key Biscayne. Village officials will come back with options including  a draft ordinance n.

“At the end of the day, it is going to take a kid’s life and I certainly don’t want to be carrying that,” Vazquez said.

The discussion – coming at the end of a four-hour Council meeting – drew testy exchanges between Mayor Joe Rasco and Village Attorney Chad Friedman, as well as between Vazquez and Council Member Ed London.

Vazquez asked Friedman to write up an ordinance to be voted on at the next Council meeting in March before Rasco threw cold water on the idea, asking if there could be a policy discussion.

“We’ve had many,” Vazquez retorted. 

Rasco said there needs to be a consensus on what the Village can do legally in terms of banning micro-mobility devices. “Every time we talk about this I get something different from you, Chad,” he said.

“I’ve been clear from the start that we can ban them. The only wrinkle to that is our jurisdiction issue on Crandon (Blvd.),” Friedman said. 

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Some council members  focused on e-bikes, which can travel up to 28 mph and cost as much as $8,000, over the electric scooters that are favored by younger children. A ban could render the devices  expensive toys gathering dust in Key Biscayne garages. 

Last year the Village tried to lobby state lawmakers to pass a law regulating micro-mobility devices but Legislative leaders didn’t embrace the idea, in part because state law already allows municipalities some authority to legislate.

Commissioner Raquel Reglado is working on a measure that would allow Key Biscayne to impose rules on Crandon, a County road. But the move would require a vote by the County Commission. Police have held several safety seminars where one or two families show up. The Council did wind up banning the devices in Village Parks. 

Elizabeth Evans, a Key Biscayne resident, said rampant scooter and e-bike use has made streets unsafe in comments to the Village Council, Feb 13, 2024. (KBI Photo/Tony Winton)

The problem with devices is village wide, although there is special concern for the heavy traffic on Crandon Blvd., the devices in hallways and walkways of condominiums. 

A lawsuit is pending at Key Colony master association, where a woman alleges she suffered injuries in a fall after trying to get out of the way of a scooter last year. 

“I see it around the school. I see it all through Mashta,” Council Member Brett Moss said. “I mean, these kids will go around the roundabouts the wrong way, they will go around the school the wrong way, through the stop sign at full speed around the corner. And I’m just like, ‘Man, they’re so lucky a car’s not there.’”

Resident Elizabeth Evans implored the Council to act. “Those 60-pound toys ridden by children, not adults. Children recklessly endanger the sidewalks for pedestrians as they zig and they zag from road to sidewalk in packs of four or five,” she said during public comments Tuesday.

Council Member Ed London said he would vote against a ban on e-bikes and asked Vazquez, “Do you have enough votes?”

Vazquez said he didn’t know. Moss, who is term-limited and can’t run again, has voiced support for a ban. Council Member Oscar Sardiñas has said he wants to see the devices regulated, but not necessarily banned. 

Vice Mayor Allison McCormick, though, has said some children use  e-bikes to get to MAST Academy, lessening the traffic on Crandon. 

Council Member Frank Caplan, when pressed by London on Tuesday, said he wasn’t ready to commit either way.

Council Member Fernando Vazquez makes a point during a meeting on storm water issues in Key Biscayne, Oct. 26, 2023. (KBI Photo/Tony Winton)

Mayor Joe Rasco, running for election, has put the issue repeatedly on the Council’s agenda for discussion.

There may be a silent majority of residents on Key Biscayne that are as fed up as Vazquez.

Former Council Member Luis de la Cruz told the Council on Tuesday, “At some point, we’re going to have a catastrophe. Then we’re going to say, ‘Oh my gosh, we should have done something.’”

“It’s becoming more like  “Lord of the Flies” –  I don’t know if you remember that – but an island sort of ruled by little children,” Evans 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.