Electric bicycles are becoming increasingly popular across Florida. They are fun and fast, and they allow riders to enjoy the recreation of riding a bike while also getting a boost in power.
However, the fact that they look like a bicycle but have electric components means that they fall somewhere between a regular bike and a motorized vehicle. This can create confusion among riders and those who share the road with them regarding safety and traffic laws. A proposed Florida bill aims to address this.
Creating three classes
The proposed measure would define three classes of electric bicycles, which align with those adopted by many other states and some local areas in Florida. Those classes include:
- Bikes with a motor that kicks in when a rider pedals and stops when the bike reaches 20 mph (Class 1)
- Bikes with a motor that works regardless of whether the rider is pedaling and stops when the bike reaches 20 mph (Class 2)
- Bikes with a motor that kicks in when a rider pedals and stops when the bike reaches 28 mph (Class 3)
The differences may seem subtle, but they affect licensing, use and registration requirements. Further, these differences can make it difficult for riders to know where they should or should not ride and how fast they can go on a particular kind of e-bike.
By separating e-bikes into different classes, lawmakers and advocates hope to provide clarity that can keep riders safer.
Regardless of whether the measure passes, it is crucial for electric bicycle riders to take various precautions when they are out for a ride. Such actions include:
- Wearing a helmet
- Refraining from riding when distracted, drunk or otherwise impaired
- Keeping to designated roads and paths
- Riding defensively around drivers
- Maintaining a safe speed
- Using hand and turn signals appropriately
- Making yourself and your bicycle visible with lights, bright colors or reflective tape
Riders who take these steps can make their ride safer for themselves and others.