These days, it’s hard to go outside and not see someone riding an e-bike or e-scooter. These things have pretty much transformed how people get around, giving lots of folks affordable and accessible urban mobility.

But these e-mobility devices are not without their drawbacks, as the Village of Key Biscayne in Florida has experienced firsthand.

On February 14, 2024, a 12-year-old riding an e-bike struck Megan Andrews, a 66-year-old resident of Key Biscayne. Unfortunately, Andrews lost her life in the accident, leading village officials to temporarily ban all electric bicycles and scooters on village roads. Now, that ban has been made permanent by a new ordinance that was passed during a council meeting. According to the new ordinance, any and all motorized scooters and electric bicycles are permanently banned on village streets.

Monty V6 Electric Cargo Bike

Electric cargo bikes are very much in fashion in many urban cities.

Indeed, pretty much anyone would agree that riding an electric bike or scooter comes with more risk than riding a regular, muscle-powered two-wheeler. Even the least powerful e-bikes, such as commuter models with 250-watt motors, are capable of hitting speeds of up to 15 miles per hour with minimal effort from the rider. Such a projectile hurtling towards an unassuming pedestrian will undoubtedly cause quite a lot of damage.

In the past, other places have also issued bans on e-bikes and e-scooters. Several colleges and universities are barring these mobility devices from entering their campuses, citing issues of road safety and fire hazards.

And the fact that a lot of states classify e-bikes and e-scooters as regular bicycles means that pretty much anyone—even kids without adult supervision–can swing a leg over and go for a ride. As such, rolling out bans on these mobility devices seems like an easy, all-encompassing solution to the problem of safety.

But is rolling out blanket bans on e-bikes and e-scooters really the solution here? In the case of Key Biscayne, it seems that the entire e-bike riding community will have to pay for the actions of one 12-year-old kid.

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Personally, I don’t think any type of ban does anyone any good. It just serves to limit everyone’s choices on how to get around. Perhaps the right amount of regulation, and more importantly, proper education on how, where, and when to ride e-bikes and e-scooters is way more important.

If we take a look over in Europe, we’ll notice that they do things a little bit differently when it comes to e-bikes. Over there, they’re really strict about the types of e-bikes, who can ride them, and where they can be ridden. Any and all e-bikes that produce more than 250 watts of nominal power require a license and insurance, and most cities have dedicated cycle paths for both electric and non-electric bike riders.

Maybe we could learn a thing or two from them.

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