Careless and inflexible electric scooter and motorized bicycle riders have become such a nuisance in Key Biscayne that village leaders are actually considering how a ban might be enforced if things don’t improve soon.
But the biggest problem, they say, may well be parental apathy.
Last week, 37 warnings were issued by Police Chief Frank Sousa and his officers, bringing the total to more than 100 over the summer. No ticket has been issued (which costs between $77.50 and $179 plus tax and other fees), but that may be about to change.
“I’m afraid someone will get hurt,” Sousa said.
He had instituted a program called “Scoot Safe” in June, educating children about how dangerous electric scooters can be. But, lately, attention has shifted to those who ride bulkier motorized bikes with fat tires that can reach speeds of 24 mph.
Sousa and the village announced a meeting on July 7 to address parents, but no one attended. Last week he hosted another parents’ conference and he got two takers – one who didn’t have kids of scooter age; the other had two children, but no scooter.
“It’s frustrating because the parents are the missing piece of the puzzle,” Sousa said.
Just last week he visited the K-8 Center to speak to children during school, and his officers went to summer camps this year, where they spoke to 350 children , gave them safety tips and even handed out helmets there and at other “open houses”. ” Opportunities.
“We had an impact on some kids, but I would like to see more interaction with parents,” Sousa said. “I’m trying to find ways to interact, so it feels like now I’m going to the parents instead of them coming to me,” he said with a sigh.
Among the problems with scooters and bicycles is that cyclists quickly approach pedestrians on sidewalks, rush through streets, or illegally cross Village Green’s artificial turf.
“Fortunately, we had no incidents, but we had a lot of close calls, and that’s mostly the fault of the vehicle (if we meet on the street),” Sousa said.
But now, he said, the situation has amplified with everyone returning from vacation, with schools opening and with sports programs booming.
“I even went to the athletics board,” Sousa said, indicating that safety efforts must be collective, on the part of schools and athletics, and, of course, parents.
“I pulled over a dad on a scooter on Wednesday, so it’s everyone (offending). All ages,” he said.
Some of the fines riders could face include:
1. No helmet for any driver or passenger under 16: $77.50
2. Equipment violations, i.e. no lights at night: $77.50
3. Moving Violations: $179 (which may affect obtaining a driver’s license before age 16)
The previous transportation problem on the island involved golf carts, with reckless driving, traveling through busy traffic lanes, and the lack of safety features in the foreground. Sousa’s efforts since December to register all golf carts in town, and explain and enforce traffic violations to every driver, have appeased what was once considered an inconvenient problem in the village.
Now the problem has shifted to motorized bicycles and electric scooters, “98%” of which ride on sidewalks, Sousa said. Technically it’s against the law, but Sousa said he’d rather not see them on the street near cars and trucks.
However, motorized bicycles, or e-bikes as they are commonly called, are permitted on sidewalks, bike lanes, streets, or multi-use trails, per state rules regarding all bicycles, and do not have need to be registered, nor applicable license. .
“They just need to respect people walking on sidewalks,” Sousa said.
Village manager Steve Williamson said each “vehicle” poses a different problem and even though these e-bikes can legally only reach 24mph, “I wouldn’t want to be hit by one”.
“What worries us is if it gets out of hand,” Williamson said. “If you’ve listened to the Council (members speak), it matters a lot to them that it’s such an issue” and that banning scooters or e-bikes is an option.
“There are some things we can do,” he said. , we may have to make a difficult decision.”
Sousa said he “reviewed it” with lawyers, but, he conceded, “there are a lot of complex issues, legally. For example, I can’t just tell the bikes apart with the two big tires. That would cover everything bikes across the spectrum, and the Board would have that vote.”
Williamson, at this point, said he hates using the “B-word,” but banning those bikes or scooters isn’t out of reach.
“Neither the chef nor I want them to be (banned),” Williamson said. “They offer an alternative means of transport, it is for the comfort of the parents and it is what the children want.
“But the only way to take it seriously is for the parents to take it seriously. If the parents don’t step in, well, I’m a little worried.”