FMB Did Not Ban Electric Bikes on Roads

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Social Media has been buzzing since a local TV station erroneously reported that electric bikes and scooters were banned from roads and streets on Fort Myers Beach. Here are the facts.

In an effort to keep people safe on the sidewalks, the Fort Myers Beach town council recently amended ordinance #22-04. The council wants to keep motorized vehicles off sidewalks to prevent accidents between vehicles going too fast on those sidewalks and pedestrians trying to get to their destinations. With more people walking, riding bikes, scooters and e-bikes, Estero Boulevard has become a smorgasbord of transportation vehicles.

Town of Fort Myers Beach Communications Coordinator Jenny Dexter told Beach Talk Radio News this week that the town did not ban e-bikes and scooters on the roads and streets. She said, “e-bikes can only be ridden on the road, unless they are in manual mode, then they can be ridden on the sidewalks.”

Dexter says scooters that are people powered can be ridden on the sidewalks. “Scooters with motors must be ridden only on the roads and streets.”

Yes, regular bikes can also be ridden at high speeds, especially on a windy day. However, you would hope people use common sense when they see the sidewalks filled with young kids trying to get to the beach.

The goal is to keep anything with a motor off the sidewalks. Those vehicles can only be on roads and streets. People-powered devices can be ridden on the sidewalks, including rollerblades.

A note to bicyclists, whether you agree with it or not, the rules of the road are that you ride with traffic. Riding against traffic, especially in designated bike lanes, puts other riders, not expecting you to ride at them, in a lot of danger. It’s also proper bike etiquette to use the road, not sidewalks, if you plan to ride at high speeds. If you are on the sidewalk you need to give pedestrians enough warning by alerting them that you are coming to their left or right. The town also requires bells and lights on every bike rental.

Enforcement falls at the feet of the Lee County Sheriff’s Department. LCSO has told the council they only plan to educate and not write tickets. Some members of the public safety committee believe that a few tickets issued would deter others from breaking the rules.

The biggest challenge is short-time beach visitors who use bikes, scooters or e-bike rentals to get around. They may not know the rules — and some may not care — being that they are here on vacation for only a few days.

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