eBike in a Bike Lane

Question

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?

Answer

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:

http://flbikelaw.org/2013/12/motorcycle-in-the-bike-lane/

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.

Posted in Ask Geo Tagged with: , , , ,
5 comments on “eBike in a Bike Lane
  1. Weverton says:

    In the definition of the ebike it says a combination of human power and motor assisted, but does this mean the ebike can be powered by the motor and then switched to human power or only when the person is peddling and sped up by the motor?

  2. SpecialFX says:

    The statute doesn’t give a specific method of “combination”..
    You’re asking about a PEDELEC…
    When you pedal the motor kicks in… In reality, there really isn’t much difference between using the PEDELEC to run the motor or using a throttle…
    Does it really make a difference if your pedaling to make the motor run or twisting a throttle and pedaling at the same time…
    Not really, I’d say it’s just semantics.

    • SpecialFX says:

      Also, When this statute was created, there was no such thing as a PEDELEC…

      • SpecialFX says:

        And as long as the motor isn’t CAPABLE of making the bicycle travel faster than 20mph, again, does I really make a difference in the operation of said bicycle?

  3. Geo says:

    I’ll have to defer to SpecialFX about the tech aspects of the eBike. The statute isn’t specific enough to make that determination, so I would guess that either electric or person power would be ok.

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