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Ron DeSantis could derail e-bike bill, or not

The Governor has 15 days to sign HB 971.

Gov. Ron DeSantis will get the final say on whether e-bikes can ride on any road, path or sidewalk where regular bikes are allowed.

The Legislature on Thursday presented DeSantis with that bill (HB 971) after shifting to a low gear to allow the Governor to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Electric bicycles, a new classification under the law, could travel up to 28 mph and the bill would eliminate the 25-inch height requirement for electric bikes to allow recumbent bikes to operate under motorized power.

The bill establishes three tiers of electric bicycles based on what speed the motor cuts out and whether a rider must actively pedal for the motor to issue power.

Electric bikes can be operated solely through motorized power, meaning a rider would not have to pedal in order to propel the bike. They could also use a motor to assist with pedaling or use the electric bike as a traditional bike without any motor assistance at all.

The bill would also retain home rule power for local governments to regulate use within their communities.

Under existing law, electric bikes are limited to 15 mph — 13 mph less than the proposed change. Existing law also blocks anyone under the age of 16 from operating an electric bike, a restriction eliminated in the proposed legislation.

The bill would also create a statewide framework for e-bikes that would make it easier for bike share or rental companies to do business in Florida while still allowing communities to retain local control.

The Florida League of Cities and the Florida Bicycle Association support the bill.

DeSantis has until June 26 to act on the bill, spearheaded by Rep. Michael Grant and Sen. Jeff Brandes before it goes into effect July 1.

Another 21 bills hit the Governor’s desk Thursday, including those strengthening bear poaching laws and allowing student athletes to make money off their brand.

Written By

Renzo Downey covers the Florida Legislature for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

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