William asked: I have an e-bike (maximum speed 20 mph) which I would like to use on the Pinellas Trail and Duke Energy Trail in Clearwater, FL. The trail rangers may have different instructions for different parts of the trail as I have been given different answers in St Pete, Clearwater, and Dunedin. Note: I conducted my survey on foot so as not to violate any existing laws that prohibit power-assisted e-bikes from operating on the Pinellas Trail.
In most circumstances, any motorized traffic is prohibited from a bike path or sidewalk. The state statutes that would normally apply are these:
s. 316.1995 – Driving upon Sidewalk or Bicycle Path
(1) Except as provided in s. 316.008 …. 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.
s. 316.003 – Definitions
(4) 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.
However, a local authority may enact regulations or ordinances that affect bicycles, including motorized bicycles, in their jurisdiction.
s. 316.008 – Powers of Local Authorities
(1) The provisions of this chapter shall not be deemed to prevent local authorities, with respect to streets and highways under their jurisdiction and within the reasonable exercise of the police power, from:
(h) Regulating the operation of bicycles.
The local authority in this case seems to be Pinellas County. The main Trail site here seems to indicate that motorized vehicles of any type except as noted are prohibited.
Basic rules to help everyone enjoy the trail:
Motorized vehicles (except electric handicap wheelchairs, maintenance, law enforcement and emergency vehicles) are prohibited.
I recommend that you contact the office that seems to have authority over the trail for the county:
Parks & Conservation Resources
PCR Administrative Office
12520 Ulmerton Road
Largo, FL 33774
(727) 582-2100 – select option #2
When you talk to any authority you should ask them the regulatory basis for what they tell you. Is there a regulation or ordinance that backs up what they say? You should also ask if there is other jurisdiction and other local authority in the cities through which the trail runs.