SpecialFX asked: I was pulled over by a sheriff riding my electric bicycle (it is legally an ebike). He told me that I was not allowed to ride it under power in the bicycle lane. He told me it’s a “grey area”. If I’m legally a bicycle and have to use the bike lane (when one is available and has no debris, other bikes, etc in it), do I have to pedal or can I use the electric motor?
It is not a grey area. The law is perfectly clear. You are operating a bicycle in a bike lane. If a police officer states that something is not legal, it is suggested that you politely ask what statute is that makes it unlawful. In this case, the officer would not be able to do so since the definition of “bicycle” in the statutes clearly includes an eBike if it meets the parameters of the definition.
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 any 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.
Further, what is not entirely clear is whether any motor driven cycle, including mopeds and motorcycles, that can remain in a single lane can use a bike lane. You can see the discussion about that in this post in which I stated one thing and was corrected by others in the comments:
The officer may have been confusing this situation with the statute that prohibits motorized vehicles from using bike paths or sidewalks.
s. 316.1995 – Driving upon Sidewalk or Bicycle Path
(1) …. 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.
(3) This section does not apply to motorized wheelchairs.
A bicycle lane is not a bike path, which has its own statutory definition.
(63) – Bicycle Path – Any road, path, or way that is open to bicycle travel, which road, path, or way is physically separated from motorized vehicular traffic by an open space or by a barrier and is located either within the highway right-of-way or within an independent right-of-way.
I recommend sending this information to the Sheriff’s Office in question and asking them to inform their deputies.