E-bikes in Seaside
Philip asked: Does Seaside allow use of e-bikes with a top assisted speed of 20 mph..ie: Trek Verve 3
In accordance with a law passed last year, electric bicycles are permitted where bicycles are allowed unless a local ordinance is in effect that limits their use.
s. 316.20655 – Electric Bicycle Regulations
(7) An operator may ride an electric bicycle where bicycles are allowed, including, but not limited to, streets, highways, roadways, shoulders, bicycle lanes, and bicycle or multiuse paths.
If I understand correctly, Seaside is a private community, and as such it has the right to regulate what types of devices may be operated within the community. I suggest the OP check with the Seaside Town Council for the answer to his question because it is possible the community has decided to enforce the Florida Uniform Traffic Control Law.
If so, Geo’s answer needs to be qualified because it ignores two important differences between the operation of a (human propelled) bicycle and that of an electric bicycle. Because we are not permitted to cherry pick sections of the statutes, we must consider all applicable laws.
The first such law is found in s. 316.1995(1), Fla. Stat. which forbids the operation of any vehicle upon a sidewalk or bicycle path unless it is propelled solely by human power. Because “(a)n electric bicycle is a vehicle to the same extent as a bicycle” [s. 316.20655(1)], this section also applies to electric bicycles and requires that “a person may not drive any vehicle other than by human power upon a bicycle path, sidewalk . . ..” So, an electric bicycle may be ridden upon a sidewalk or bicycle path only if its motor is turned off.
The second applicable law is found in s. 316.2065(9) which states that “(a) person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.”
Just like the other statute, the Legislature very specifically limited this section to only those vehicles that are being propelled only by human power. Once the operator of the electric bicycle turns its motor on, he or she no longer has the same rights and duties as that of a pedestrian while riding on a sidewalk or a crosswalk.
Because an electric bicycle must, by definition, be capable of being propelled solely by human power (“fully operable pedals”), the Legislature has not imposed any illogical or absurd restriction upon the operators of electric bicycles.
Does the language of S.316.20655 stipulate that it redefines laws that prohibit motorized vehicles from sidewalks?
No, nothing in the new electric bicycle law changes s. 316.1995(1) which continues to require that only vehicles propelled solely by human power may be operated on sidewalks and bicycle paths.
While FBA’s statement that “electric bicycles are permitted where bicycles are allowed” is true, it ignores the fact that nothing in the new law states something to the effect that “electric bicycles are permitted to be operated on sidewalks and bicycle paths while their motors are providing propulsion”.
If the Legislature has intended to change the Driving Upon Sidewalk or Bicycle Path law’s restriction and permit electric bicycles to be operated while their motors are providing propulsion, it should have said so, but it didn’t.
HarryB stated: “No, nothing in the new electric bicycle law changes s. 316.1995 ….”
This appears be a change.
s. 316.1995 – Driving Upon Sidewalk or Bicycle Path
(1) Except as provided in …. s. 316.20655 ….
See above for the language.
Section 316.1995 is crystal clear: if it is a vehicle, a person may not drive it other than by human power upon bicycle paths or sidewalks anywhere in the state of Florida. However, in a nod to home rule powers, the Legislature gives local jurisdictions the authority to adopt certain ordinances to the contrary.
The new exception, “s.316.20655”, clearly refers to these home rule powers because it was added to the other three exceptions which also refer to the concept of home rule. This should be self-evident because the new electric bicycle law specifically refers to s. 316.008, “Powers of local authorities” in detail.
If the Legislature had intended to create a state-wide exception to s. 316.1995’s restriction for electric bicycles, it would have included such language in the new electric bicycle law, but it didn’t. Because an electric bicycle must be capable of being propelled solely by human power and also capable of being propelled “other than by human power”, the operator has the right to choose the method of propulsion…unless a law has been adopted to the contrary. And such a law has been on the books for decades, s. 316.1995.
Prior to July, 2020, the operators of motorized bicycles had the same rights and duties as the operators of (human propelled) bicycles, and the new electric bicycle law has not changed them one iota (with the exception of the removal of the age limit). In the past, FBA correctly stated that the operators of motorized bicycles were only permitted to drive their vehicles on sidewalks and bicycle paths if they were being propelled solely by human power, so what is the basis for it now claiming electric bicycles may be operated on said facilities while their motors are providing propulsion when the Legislature has not made that change?