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The Key Biscayne e-bike ban, according to Guerold Cajina, is a nightmare for his business. Sales and maintenance have decreased by 50%. 

The manager of Key Cycling in the Galleria Mall,  Cajina said that the Village could have enacted a law requiring helmet wear or face fines. “Something like that would’ve solved the problem – it’s just making the police department work and the city work,” he said.

It’s not just Cajina who’s against the ban. Micromobility is a solution for the island and shouldn’t be an issue, said Charles Collins, a mayoral candidate, in a text interview. This is because they’re quicker and require less parking places than large, slow golf carts. 

Key Biscayne’s Council imposed an emergency ban on all micromobility devices in February, just two days after Megan Andrews, a well-liked island tutor lost her life in an e-bike collision, which was ruled accidental. She was not wearing a helmet, officials said. 

After an outpouring of grief and a campaign to enact “Megan’s Law,” the Council voted June 11 to make the ban on motorized scooters and electric bicycles on village roadways permanent. 

The vigil Friday, February 24, 2024 for Megan Andrews, who was killed in an e-bike accident two days earlier. (KBI Photo/John Pacenti)

But even in voting for the ban, there is talk of easing the restrictions some day. Officials have said they want to let adults and older children use the devices in the future, but are currently stymied by a state law that does not allow municipalities to make more nuanced rules, such as  age or licensing restrictions. 

State Rep. Vicky  Lopez, who represents Key Biscayne, has vowed to refile a bill at next year’s Legislative session. 

In the meantime, Village Attorney Chad Friedman is seeking a legal opinion from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, asking if existing  law is broad enough to support age restrictions. 

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The Andrews family declined to comment. However, those who knew her recalled her as a trailblazer who supported young people’s educational goals. 

“[Andrews]was a remarkable human being and member of our community. Every interaction with her included nothing but positive energy and affirmation,” wrote Anne Rothe, director of the Key Biscayne Presbyterian School at Crossbridge Church,  “We were all blessed by her presence in this world, and I hope we can each make a little effort to live by her example.” 

Mike Davey, a former mayor of Key Biscayne and family friend, described Andrews as a positive individual with a reputation for encouraging others.  

“I feel bad for the poor 12-year-old who is also suffering,” he said. “I mean, he had access to this thing as a kid, of course, he’s not thinking. He wasn’t being a bad kid.”

The use of e-scooters, hoverboards and e-bikes in the last several years has increased the number of emergency-related injuries, according to a 2023 report by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Between 2017 and 2022 the number of casualties increased significantly at 233, the report said.

In addition, the use of all three transportation devices during the time period resulted in an estimated total of 360,800 emergency department visits — e-bikes alone accounted for 15 percent of emergency department visits, totaling 53,200 visits. 

Cajina emphasized the importance of wearing a helmet, saying the ban makes as much sense as banning cars, because they too can kill cyclists.

If Andrews had been wearing a helmet, he added, she would still be alive. He continued by saying that he had raced some 15 years prior. Although he dislikes wearing a helmet, he and his family both do.

“I’ve seen many accidents during races, and they survived because of the helmet,” he said.

But the controversy goes beyond simply using helmets to save lives, it’s a matter of attacking traffic problems.

Collins believes that e-bikes can reduce traffic and improve transportation, explaining every trip a child takes on an e-bike saves a parent’s round trip in a car.

Echoing many parents, Collins said there should be regulations and education instead of restrictions, such as offering weekend clinics for certification and programs that are already stable in other systems. 

The Village did conduct a number of safety workshops with parents and kids, and made presentations at schools before the fatal crash. They were poorly-attended and the problems persisted, police said. 

Collins said bolder changes should have been considered. 

“We could dramatically change infrastructure, modeled after the most successful designs worldwide, which tend to center around Europe’s older cities and their 1,000-year-old restrictive infrastructure,” Collins said. “This may involve making some streets one way and creating transportation corridors, but this is relatively inexpensive.”

Mayor Joe Rasco, who was part of a 6-1 vote for the ban, said in a meeting earlier this year that there has been continuous discussion about the proper operation of E-bikes and the risks they represent to bikers, pedestrians and other vehicles.

“From a policy standpoint, we have been working with county and state officials to come up with policies that will hold up across different jurisdictions…. we had a discussion in this very chamber about increasing dangers on our streets, and we agreed that we had to do more,” he said. 

BIILY JEAN LOUIS is the senior editor of the Key Biscayne Independent. A native of Port Au Prince, Haiti, Jean Louis  has worked for Bloomberg and the Baltimore Sun. He is a corps member of Report for America

TATIANA PINHEIRO is a reporter for Miami Fourth Estate, working in an internship program under the auspices of the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at the City University of New York, where she is a graduate student.

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