E-bikes could soon hit any road or path a standard bicycle is permitted.
The bill (HB 971) would allow electric bicycles to go anywhere standard bicycles are already allowed. Port Charlotte Republican Rep. Michael Grant, who filed the bill, noted that 23 states already have similar laws.
“We are bringing e-bike technology into the 21st century,” Grant said.
The House State Affairs Committee unanimously gave the proposal its final thumbs-up Thursday before it goes to the House floor.
An amendment approved Thursday removed a provision allowing local government panels to restrict the use of e-bikes for public safety concerns.
St. Augustine Republican Cyndi Stevenson ultimately supported the bill but feared tying e-bikes to their conventional counterparts could have unintended consequences. She advocated for the public safety option.
“There are places where I’m afraid bikes may be removed where they’re very beneficial for commuting to schools, and we have smaller sidewalks,” she said.
Tampa Democratic Rep. Dianne Hart told the committee she had planned to file the bill next year after a constituent of hers complained about police stopping his electric bike. She thanked Grant for already putting in the effort.
Becky Alfonso, executive director of the Florida Bicycle Association, said her group commissioned a study to clarify the types of electric bicycles and noted their study contributed to the legislation. Jeff Branch, the Florida League of Cities’ legislative advocate, signaled that group’s support as well.
The bill establishes three tiers of electric bicycles based on at what speed the motor cuts out and whether a rider must actively pedal for the motor to issue power.
“You can go 30; you can go 40 mph on a bike path just by pedaling it if you’re an athlete, which I’m not. So whatever technology you use to get to that speed, it doesn’t make any difference,” Grant said.
St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes‘ companion version (SB 1148) has unanimously flown through its first two committees and awaits a hearing in Senate Rules.