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There’s been a flurry of new ideas for e-bike and scooter laws in the wake of the Valentines’ Day death of a beloved Key Biscayne tutor in a collision with an e-bike. Some are aimed at a compromise solution. 

And other municipalities are watching. 

In Bal Harbor, officials Tuesday said they will introduce restrictions modeled after Key Biscayne’s emergency ordinance. And at the state capitol,  State Rep. Vicki Lopez is revising her idea to let local governments craft their own, more nuanced laws less restrictive than an outright ban. 

“The tragedy that occurred in Key Biscayne was front of mind,” said Bal Harbour Mayor Jeffrey P. Freimark. “We see it as a problem. Our residents are clearly telling us it’s a problem and when I’m out and about I see it.” 

At the County level, a proposal by Commissioner Raquel Regalado would allow Key Biscayne to have more control over Crandon Boulevard, the only road where the Village’s 60-day ban does not have effect. 

There is clearly some appetite for compromise.

While many residents in Key Biscayne hailed the ban and welcomed quieter streets free of the zipping and zagging of the silent, battery powered devices — there is growing pushback from both adults and parents of older children. They say the ban in reaction to the death of Megan Andrews is too harsh. Officials ruled the death of the 66-year-old Andrews — who was not wearing a helmet — accidental. 

For two years, Key Biscayne avoided a Village-wide ban, enacting one for Village parks only. As the devices proliferated, officials opted for education, worried that a total ban would force young riders into the hustle and bustle of Crandon. Because of state law, the all-or-nothing choice was the only option Key Biscayne had. 

Last year, Lopez tried to give municipalities more options to enact a softer, more nuanced set of restrictions.

Now, Lopez is angling for another crack at it by tacking on an amendment to a bill, HB7049, that is nearing its final form in the committee process. 

State Rep. Vicki Lopez, R-Miami, speaks on the House Floor in 2023. File. (KBi via the Florida Channel)

“This immediate change will allow the Village to set more appropriate age requirements in order to operate these e-bikes,” Lopez said Wednesday. The amendment will be considered Thursday and Lopez says it has the support of Rep. Fiona McFarland (R-Sarasota), the chair of the House Transportation & Modals subcommittee. 

Lopez said House leaders will ask the sponsor of the companion measure in the Senate, Sen. Joe Gruters, to accept the change. 

“We’re going to get it done,” Lopes said. 

A copy of the amendment provided to the Key Biscayne Independent would  change the law so that “A local government may adopt an ordinance providing one or more minimum ages for electric bicycles and may adopt an ordinance requiring an operator of an electric bicycle to possess a government-issued photographic identification” A similar provision covers motorized scooters and micromobility devices.

Key Biscayne Village Manager Steve Williamson wrote to council members Wednesday that Commissioner Regalado hopes to finalize this week a change to County law that would give the Village more control over Crandon Blvd. In the meantime, Williamson proposed a schedule calling for a community meeting and a permanent e-bike ordinance by mid-May.

“I can present a recommendation,” Williamson wrote, “and you all can debates the merits and provide policy direction.”

In Bal Harbor, Freimark said the issue of banning micromobility devices was a point of discussion at the municipality’s Council meeting on Tuesday night. Residents said e-bike and electric scooters – ridden by all ages – are disruptive on the hard-pack beach paths that run behind the hotels that are a hallmark of the municipality of 3,000 residents.

The Bal Harbour Council asked Village attorney Susan Trevarthen to return with options for a special meeting March 5. “What she said last night was, ‘It’s complicated,’” he said. 

Trevarthen and Key Biscayne Village Attorney Chad Friedman belong to the law firm Weiss, Serota, Helfman, Cole and Bierman.

Freimark said Bal Harbour is ready to test its authority on the issue. “In our history, we have not hesitated to be on the leading edge if we feel it’s right for the residents of the Village,” he said.

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This story has been updated to reflect Williamson letter to Council.


Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.

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.