Children are seen on electric powered devices outside Key Biscayne Village Hall, May 7, 2022. (KBI Photo/Tony Winton)
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A proposed Miami-Dade ordinance that would give Key Biscayne the ability to regulate e-bikes and electric scooters on Crandon Boulevard is facing unspecified opposition at the County level and is  being watered down with the hope that a temporary fix can win approval next month. 

In a filing last week, County Commissioner Raquel Reglado is proposing a more limited law that would sunset in two years and be limited to Key Biscayne, instead of being applicable countywide. 

Regaldo, who responded to questions by email, did not address the direct source of the opposition to the original ordinance which has gone through several revisions since last fall. “Initially, the County Attorney’s office advised that the ordinance should be applicable generally and that’s the version that made it to print,” Regalado said. 

Village Manager Steve Williamson, who has expressed frustration with the County on the Crandon Boulevard issue, said, “There might be some pushback but we have to get this done. We know we have to get this done. So we’re gonna make sure this goes through specifically as a pilot test.”

The measure passed on first reading last month where Commissioners agreed to fast-track it. But it faces its first substantive hearing at 9 a.m. Monday before Chairman’s Policy Council and Intergovernmental Affairs Committee.

Jurisdiction over Crandon Boulevard – which is under the County’s control – is key for the Village as it moves forward with crafting its own law to address micromobility devices. Key Biscayne is expected at Tuesday’s Council meeting to extend its emergency ban enacted after the death of Megan Andrews, a beloved tutor, in an e-bike collision with her regular bike on Feb. 14.

“When the first version of the item was published, there were a lot of questions from people who weren’t sure they liked the idea of bringing this solution to other places in the county,” Regaldo said. “It’s a nuanced conversation that has been very active on the Key, but less so anywhere else.”

The new proposed ordinance also includes exceptions for wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Village is in a bind because a proposed change in state law , authored by Rep. Vicki Lopez, failed  two years in a row in Tallahassee. With the Legislature failing to act, Regalado started conversations with Mayor Joe Rasco and Williamson to give the Village  authority to regulate the devices on Crandon.

“You have a gaping hole on Crandon until the County can help,” Village Attorney Chad Friedman said at the March Council meeting. 

Key Biscayne Police can choose to enforce an existing state statute that bans e-bikes and electric scooters from the sidewalks.  They had been reluctant because they feared traffic would be diverted into the roadway, deemed to be a higher safety risk than use on the sidewalk.

A police officer writes a ticket to a an e-scooter rider on the Key Biscayne Village Green, Thurs. Feb. 16, 2023. (KBI Photo/Tony Winton)

There was also concern from parents that traffic citations were too harsh – because an unpaid citation would block a teenager from getting  a learner’s permit at age 15 . 

The ownership of the devices exploded in recent years as  younger children operated devices that could travel nearly 30 mph.

Williamson said the Village is dedicated to crafting a solution.

“The way you regulate this is by age, by type, by location,” Williamson said. “When you give the Council an opportunity to look at those three, communities, they usually come up with pretty good solutions.”

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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.

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.