Motorized Vehicles on Sidewalks

Question

Frank asked: I tried looking up what the fine is for riding an electric bicycle (under electric power) on a sidewalk.  Can you tell me what that may be?

Answer

The violation would be:

s. 316.1995 – Driving upon Sidewalk or Bicycle Path

(1) No person shall drive any vehicle other than by human power upon a bicycle path, sidewalk ….

(3) This section does not apply to motorized wheelchairs.

A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation as provided in chapter 318.

The statutory penalty would probably be:

s. 318.18  Amount of Penalties

(3)(a)  Except as otherwise provided in this section, $60 for all moving violations not requiring a mandatory appearance.

There would be additional court costs that could be $100 or more.  You should check with your local law enforcement agency for more information.

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20 comments on “Motorized Vehicles on Sidewalks
  1. Frank says:

    Just an FYI.

    My electric bicycle is NOT a motor vehicle…

    P.S. I would not suggest ANYONE to ride ANY kind of “motor vehicle” on a sidewalk.

    Thanks.

    • wayne monroe says:

      Federal law supersedes all local laws regarding e bikes on side walks.I carry a print out of it, states right on it that it supersedes. I’m sure most cops don’t know this as they are only concerned about their local laws. I suggest you get a copy of Federal bike laws concerning e bikes.

    • Luke Bares says:

      Gee thats strange i could have sworn those VEHICLES were propelled by an electric MOTOR.

  2. Geo says:

    Concerning riding on sidewalks, note that the statute does not say “motor vehicle”. It says “any vehicle other than by human power”. If the motor, no matter what size or type, is being used to propel the vehicle, it is unlawful.

  3. David Henderson says:

    George,

    Do Florida Statutes address motorized wheelchairs or scooters used by the elderly and disabled?

    Thanks,

    David

  4. Shawn says:

    What defines a sidewalk or bicycle path? Must signage be posted to designate a sidwalk or bicycle path? Do certain size characteristics accompany sidewalks or bicycle paths so as to alert motorized vehicle operators to avoid traveling on them?

    A link to any Florida Statute governing this area of law would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Shawn

  5. Frank says:

    Regarding the conversation of riding a bibycle assisted by a gas motor (less than 50cc):

    I have read many of your posts and links and all mention a “home-made” bicycle with a gas motor. What if it’s professionally made? I’m talking about a company that dedicates its business to manufacturing all the parts of the bicycle and motor?

    A DMV officer in Miami, FL (International mall office) told me I could not ride them on the street, but I could ride them on the sidewalks or where bicycles can ride.

    Why is the law for an electric assisted bicycle different from a gas assisted bicycle?

    Thanks.

  6. Geo says:

    Gas assist bicycles are not permitted on the roadways or sidewalks, whether home-made or commercially built. As discussed in depth in the posts and comments on the subject, they are not bicycles, mopeds, or motorcycles, and therefore are not legal vehicles.

    No matter what the DMV officer told you, only vehicles powered by human power are allowed on sidewalks, except for motorized wheelchairs and as follows.

    s. 316.1995 – Driving Upon Sidewalk or Bicycle Path
    (1) Except as provided in s. 316.008 or s. 316.212(8), a person may not drive any vehicle other than by human power upon a bicycle path, sidewalk, or sidewalk area, except upon a permanent or duly authorized temporary driveway.

    The statutes .008 and .212 refer to the authority of a county or municipality to enact an ordinance to regulate the operation of vehicles, golf carts, mopeds, motorized scooters, and electric personal assistive mobility devices on sidewalks or sidewalk areas under certain circumstances.

    It would seem that you could legally operate a bicycle that is equipped with a gas assist motor on the sidewalk or roadway if you are using only human power and the motor is not running.

    You will have to ask your legislators why they included electric assist motors in the definition of “bicycle” but not gas assist motors.

    A change that would have expanded the definition to gas assist motors was proposed, but never was enacted.

    House of Representatives Staff Analysis Bill # CS/CS/CS/HB 1353
    Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles
    Sponsor(S): Economic Affairs Committee, Transportation & Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Transportation & Highway Safety Subcommittee, Albritton
    “Proposed Changes – The bill amends the definition of bicycle to remove the qualifier “electric” from the “helper motor” provision.”

  7. Tom says:

    s. 316.003 – Definitions

    (2) Bicycle – Every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground upon which a person may ride, having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels.

    Actually if it is a bicycle (or tricycle) with a electric helper motor and limited to less than 20 mph it is considered a bicycle under the above statute and is therefore proper that it be allowed on the bike path. One has to be familiar with the laws to protect their right

  8. Geo says:

    Tom,
    A bicycle operating the power of an electric assist motor is not a human powered vehicle, even though it is a bicycle, is therefore prohibited from using a bike path or sidewalk.

  9. Geo says:

    Aria,
    The question you refer to was asked before the law was changed and prompted the change. The post above was revised after the law was changed in 2012.

  10. Jake says:

    I have a razor scooter and do wheelies past cops all the time and have no problem also what if I ride in the grass next to the side walk I’m pretty sure that’s OFF-RODE

  11. Geo says:

    Jake,

    If your scooter is not human powered, it may not be operated on a sidewalk. See the statute above. It may be that the officers just don’t choose to enforce that law.
    If you are on the grass beside the roadway, you are not necessarily “off-road”. You are not in the roadway, but are in the road, street or highway, depending on the statute.

    For traffic law purposes, the following statutes apply
    s. 316.003 – Definitions
    (42) Roadway – That portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder.
    (53) Street or Highway
    (a) The entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place of whatever nature when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular traffic ….
    Your vehicle may not be a “motor vehicle”.
    (21) Motor Vehicle – …. a self-propelled vehicle not operated upon rails or guideway, but not including any bicycle, motorized scooter, electric personal assistive mobility device, swamp buggy, or moped.
    (82) Motorized Scooter – Any vehicle not having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider, designed to travel on not more than three wheels, and not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on level ground.

    For the purpose of registration, your vehicle is a motor vehicle and must be registered if operated on the “road”. Note the difference in the definition of “road” below and “Roadway” above.
    Chapter 320 – Motor Vehicle Licenses
    s. 320.02 – Registration Required; Application for Registration; Forms
    (1) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, every owner or person in charge of a motor vehicle that is operated or driven on the roads of this state shall register the vehicle in this state. The owner or person in charge shall apply to the department or to its authorized agent for registration of each such vehicle on a form prescribed by the department. A registration is not required for any motor vehicle that is not operated on the roads of this state during the registration period.
    s. 320.01 Definitions, General.—As used in the Florida Statutes, except as otherwise provided, the term:
    (1) “Motor vehicle” means:
    (a) An automobile, motorcycle, truck, trailer, semitrailer, truck tractor and semitrailer combination, or any other vehicle operated on the roads of this state, used to transport persons or property, and propelled by power other than muscular power, but the term does not include traction engines, road rollers, special mobile equipment as defined in s. 316.003(48), vehicles that run only upon a track, bicycles, swamp buggies, or mopeds.
    (16) “Road” means the entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place of whatever nature when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular traffic.

    For the purpose of drivers’ licenses, on the highway, your vehicle is a motor vehicle and requires a drivers license.
    Chapter 322 – Driver Licenses
    s. 322.03 – Drivers Must be Licensed; Penalties
    (1) Except as otherwise authorized in this chapter, a person may not drive any motor vehicle upon a highway in this state unless such person has a valid driver license issued under this chapter.
    (27) “Motor vehicle” means any self-propelled vehicle, including a motor vehicle combination, not operated upon rails or guideway, excluding vehicles moved solely by human power, motorized wheelchairs, and motorized bicycles as defined in s. 316.003.
    The definition of “highway” is similar to the registration definition of “road”.
    (39) “Street or highway” means the entire width between the boundary lines of a way or place if any part of that way or place is open to public use for purposes of vehicular traffic.

    Hence, your vehicle is not permitted on a sidewalk unless it is powered solely by human power. You may be subject to a citation for operating an unregistered vehicle and without a driver’s license

  12. Paita says:

    So if you use a bicycle that has an electric assist, but turn off the motor so that it’s only human-powered at the moment, can you ride it on the sidewalk? Or does the presence of the electric assist at all, whether active or not, preclude you from using the sidewalk?

  13. Geo says:

    Paita,

    Concerning riding on sidewalks, note that the statute does not say “motor vehicle”. It says “any vehicle other than by human power”. If the motor, no matter what size or type, is being used to propel the vehicle, it is unlawful. It appears that any vehicle, no matter what is in it, may be operated by only human power on a sidewalk.

  14. Geo says:

    Wayne,

    Could you provide the link to the federal statute you mention? My guess is that it is the Consumer Protection Safety Council document defining a motorized bicycle that has nothing to do with traffic laws, which are promulgated by the states.

  15. John says:

    Here’s something that nobody has touched on. Here in Collier county the motorcycle cops like to park their motorcycles on the sidewalk to catch people either speeding, running a red light, ect. They are then driving their motorcycles on the sidewalk to get onto the roadway. Is this legal???

  16. Geo says:

    John,

    This might cover it.

    s. 316.1945 – Stopping, standing, or parking prohibited in specified places
    (1) Except when …. in compliance with law or the directions of a police officer or official traffic control device, no person shall:
    (a) Stop, stand, or park a vehicle:
    2. On a sidewalk.

    If you think it is a safety concern, I suggest notifying your county or city officials.

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