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In the wake of an e-bike-caused fatality, a group of Key Biscayne parents are pushing back on plans to ban micro-mobility devices, saying it will hurt families and law-abiding students, adults who rely on them and clog traffic.

The parents and supporters, who organizers say number about 300 residents, formed online on WhatsApp following the Village Council’s approval Friday of a 60-day ban on all micro-mobility devices on all streets but Crandon Boulevard.

The ban came after well-known resident Megan Andrews, 66, died when her unpowered  bicycle collided on Valentine’s Day with an e-bike operated by a 12–year-old boy. Authorities ruled the death accidental. 

“I believe that the Village could do better for everyone in the community, to think about other options and other solutions that create a safe environment for everybody, rather than a ban. I’m not pro-banning anything,” said Suzette Siblesz.

Siblesz has three children – none who own e-bikes or electric scooters. Her 17-year-old daughter, Holly Thorpe, is a MAST Academy student and a well-known environmental advocate who recently helped land 20 electric buses for the school district.

Marisabel Herrera, a member of the group, says she has two children but only her son uses an e-bike to commute to MAST or soccer practice. She and Siblesz helped form the chat with other parents that are not necessarily against the emergency ban – just a permanent one.

Karla Vigil-Berger speaks to officers after being escorted out by police from the Council meeting on Feb. 16, 2024. Vigil-Berger spoke against banning e-bikes and was shouted down by those who favor it. (KBI Photo/Tony Winton)

“I think within 60 days, it gives time to protect everybody, regroup, get together and try to unite and find a right path,” Siblesz said.

Village Attorney Chad Friedman said state law only allows Key Biscayne to ban, not regulate micromobility devices However, state Rep. Vicki Lopez, whose district represents Key Biscayne, told the Independent an amendment to a transportation bill may change that restriction.

The parent group, under the chat E-Bike Regulate and Enforce Allies, proposed a plan that included age-based regulations that differ per device. It also calls for mandatory road safety education and parental consent, registration of devices, mandatory use of helmets and lights, and restricted areas.

The group also reached out to iBikeSafe.org, the University of Miami BikeSafe program, to collaborate on evidence-based bicycle safety initiatives for children.

The Key Biscayne Police Department’s SCOOT SAFE program was unrealistic and did not provide the training or instruction necessary, Herrera said. “You got to make it mandatory courses,” she said.

Siblesz said the importance of e-bikes for students commuting to MAST can’t be underestimated. “That is a huge impact on the carbon footprint, the amount of cars on the road,” Siblesz said.

It is unrealistic to expect MAST students to use normal bikes to go 3 1⁄2 miles along Crandon in the heat with a heavy backpack in tow, tiring them out before classes even begin, she said.

Siblesz and Herrera said that families and kids who oppose a permanent ban have been unfairly demonized on other WhatsApp chats. Parent Karla Vigil-Berger was escorted out by police at Friday’s Council meeting when the crowd shouted her down as she tried to speak out against the ban.

Right now there are two competing petitions. One urges the Council to ban all e-bikes. The other, from the parenting group, urges the Council to investigate other options. 

“We want to find a solution that benefits everybody,” Herrera said. “It’s not a pro or against – it’s let’s work together.”

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John Pacenti

JOHN PACENTI is a correspondent of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.

JOHN PACENTI is a correspondent of the Key Biscayne Independent. John has worked for The Associated Press, the Palm Beach Post, Daily Business Review, and WPTV-TV.