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In another convoluted discussion on e-bikes and electric scooters, the Key Biscayne VIllage Council on Tuesday signaled it is likely to extend the current 60-day ban on micromobility devices when it expires next month.

The Council enacted the restrictions Feb. 16, two days after Megan Andrews, a beloved tutor, was killed when her regular bicycle collided with an e-bike driven by a 12-year-old. 

“Let’s go big picture here. Okay, what are the things that we can and cannot do? Because this continues to be an item of discussion throughout the community,” said Mayor Joe Rasco.

Take our survey on a the e-bike and scooter ban

After Tuesday night, Rasco is still waiting for a clear answer.

Village Attorney Chad Friedman presented options for the Council, giving a history lesson on how the state once upon a time banned such devices before opening them up to all ages.

The Village has fewer options because a legislative rider to a bigger transportation bill died in  state Senate last week. The measure would have allowed municipalities to set age restrictions on e-bike and electric scooter operators.

Village Manager Steve Williamson handed out documents with options for the Council. However, that information was not included in the public agenda packet and the Village did not respond to a records request made Tuesday evening.

Williamson recommended the ban be extended on April 9 to give time for the Village to see what the Miami-Dade County Commission does in giving Key Biscayne jurisdiction over Crandon Boulevard. 

Crandon Boulevard is a state road controlled by the County. Currently, e-bikes and electric scooters can be operated on it. 

However, police do have the ability to write violations for anybody who rides a micromobility device on a sidewalk or bike lane – citing a state law that says they must be in the roadway. Somewhat oddly, this state law wasn’t discussed by the Council or brought up by its attorney on Tuesday night.

Friedman did say an extension of the current ban should be done in parallel with a permanent ordinance. 

There appeared little consensus on the dais on the details of such a permanent ordinance, however. There was discussion whether to require a driver’s license to operate an e-bike.

Council Member Ed London has repeatedly said he wants to ban only the class of e-bikes that can go up to 30 mph. Council Member Oscar Sardiñas said he was also in favor of an ordinance that just banned certain classes of e-bikes.

Council Member Brett Moss, though, said that enforcing an ordinance where police had to discern between different types of e-bikes -was problematic.  He bemoaned the Council decision last year to only regulate micromobility devices on Village parks while trying to educate families and children on how to safely use them. 

He said a total ban is the only solution.

“I’ve heard people say this is a knee-jerk reaction to an incident that happened, which is very far from the truth,” he said. “This came to us more than a year ago.”

Council Member Fernando Vazquez, who was absent Tuesday night, has also voiced support for a total ban.

The Council also heard from the Fire Department on the growing concern that the lithium-ion batteries used in the devices can explode and cause injury – even death – and structure fire. 

An apartment building fire in New York last month that killed a young journalist was caused by such an exploding e-bike battery.

Some condominium complexes on the island, such as Key Colony, have banned e-bikes and electric scooters from outdoor paths. 

There were also members of the public who told the Council a permanent ban hurts adults who rely on the devices for transportation and that there is an increased problem with underage drivers operating golf carts now.

The Council also heard that some residents have started harassing children if they saw them riding on of the forbidden devices. 

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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.