County Leaders To Weigh In On E-Bike Usage On Beaches

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DeLand, FL - At the upcoming Volusia County Council meeting, county leaders will be asked to weigh in on the use of electric bikes and scooters—or "E-bikes"—on county beaches.

As it stands right now, Volusia County's code of ordinances prohibits the use of E-bikes on beaches, but a statute—known as the "E-bike statute"—passed during Florida's 2020 legislative session grants an E-bike user the same rights and duties applicable to a bicycle rider.

Similar to the E-bike statute, state legislators also passed the Micromobility statute in 2019, which also states that a person operating a "micromobility device," such as a miniature motorcycle or a motorized scooter, has all of the rights and duties applicable to the rider of a bicycle. As of 2021, there are no state laws that prohibit bicycles on beaches.

However, in addition to state and local laws that already govern beaches, Volusia's beaches are also regulated by federal law pursuant to the County's Incidental Take Permit or ITP. The ITP, under the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), separates the county beaches into three categories of Beach Management Areas (BMA): Natural, Urban and Transitional. In Volusia County, bicycles are permitted on all BMA's.

And, despite both the E-bike and Micromobility statutes, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) told county leaders that E-bikes and other electric motorized devices are prohibited on Natural BMAs. But, according to the USFWS, Volusia may allow the devices to operate outside of the driving lanes in Urban and Transitional BMAs as long as they follow other vehicle regulations.

With all that in mind, county leaders will be asked to weigh in on five separate decisions. According to an agenda item for the upcoming February 16th meeting, those decisions are:

  1. Whether or not to allow e-bikes and micromobility devices to operate on Urban and Transitional BMAs
  2. If they're allowed to operate on those BMAs, are they allowed to be operated only in the driving lanes, outside of the driving lanes, or in the driving lane and outside the driving lane?
  3. May they be operated year round? Or will the devices be prohibited on the beach during certain times, such as holidays or events.
  4. Will these devices be permitted to operate in Traffic Free Zones (TFZ)?
  5. If these devices are allowed to operate, how will the county regulate their use?

The agenda item additionally states that the county could seek approval from the USFWS to allow these devices on all BMAs. However, since that would be a major amendment to the county's ITP, the permit is then subject to public comment and administrative review by the USFWS.

The county meeting is slated to begin at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 16th.

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