FERNANDINA BEACH WEATHER

A request for Nassau County Board of Commision to reconsider position on e-bikes – An opinion

A letter sent to the Nassau County Board of Commission

 

I am emailing you and the Nassau County Board of Commissioners requesting that they reconsider their position on the use of e-bikes within Nassau County.

As I understand the content of the proposed Statute, Sec. 18-11, “the board” is attempting to protect “regular” bicycle users, walkers and joggers from electric bicycles that generate higher rates of speed.

As a short-term-rental property owner in Forest Ridge Village, I am assessed taxes, fees and a business license because of my ownership. In part, Nassau County derives it’s income from my payments and is responsible for providing me with governance and an environment that is mutually beneficial to me, the county, and its entire population.

I am also an avid cyclist and strenuously object to the board’s definition of me as a “regular” bicycle user. There are all manner of bicycle users from Olympian and professional cyclists to children riding their bicycles to school and for play.

For me, cycling is my passion. I am a member of one national bicycle club (The League of American Bicyclists) and four, Florida-based clubs. I ride over 10,000 miles per year. Living full-time in The Villages, Florida, I ride mostly in central Florida but when at my Amelia condo, I ride with the North Florida Bicycle Club.

Both clubs offer group rides most every day of the week. The rides are well attended, sometimes numbering over 100 club members, meeting in one spot and then riding to various locations at various speeds.

Among those groups, e-bikes have become extremely popular.[1] We “regular” cyclists, being generally over age 60, accommodate each others’ speeds. We ride on city, county and state roads, and multi-modal paths here in The Villages and on Amelia.

These pathways are not only used by “regular” bicycle users but also recumbent riders, riders of three wheeled bicycles, riders on city bikes, townie bikes, dirt bikes, mountain bikes, casual walkers, race walkers, roller-bladers, dog walkers, joggers, runners, Moms pushing baby buggies, Segway personal transporters and golf carts.

By the way, The Villages consists of approximately 140,000 residents and 70,000 golf carts. Accidents involving bicycles are rare. Our local bicycle club reports on accidents in it’s weekly emailing to all members. To my knowledge, there have been no accidents involving e-bikes.

Bicycling and environmental groups throughout Florida are working to build connecting trails for all citizens, regardless of the mode of “human” transport

Maybe the best known group is “The Rails-to-Trails Conservancy”.

 

https://www.railstotrails.org/

Since 1986, the RTC has worked to bring the power of trails to communities across the country, serving as the national voice for the rail-trail movement.With more than 1 million grassroots supporters, 24,000+ miles of rail-trails on the ground nationwide and more than 8,000 miles of rail-trails ready to be built, their focus is on linking trail networks that connect people and places, bringing transformative benefits to communities across the country.

The RTC recognizes e-bike ridership as a safe mode of transportation.

The bicycle industry has developed a multi-tier classification system for e-bikes to clearly delineate them from other vehicles. This system is based on the power source and maximum assisted speed of the bicycle.

Class I e-bikes are those in which the motor provides a boost only when a rider is pedaling. The boost cuts out at 20 miles per hour and the rider must rely on their own muscle power to go any faster than that.

Class II e-bikes are those in which the throttle can be switched to provide a boost up to a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph, without any pedaling required. The boost cuts out at 20 mph, and the rider must rely on their own muscle power to go any faster than that.

Class III e-bikes operate with a motor that only assists while the rider is pedaling and ceases to provide assistance when it reaches 28 miles per hour.

Class II e-bikes are rare. Our local bicycle club (currently 984 members) advises against use of class II e-bikes when riding with a group; but, does not prohibit their use. [2]

Over the past year, it has been our club’s experience that e-bike riders do not frequent the “fastest” group; that is, 19 mph and higher. Rather, e-bikes are most often used in the group that normally rides at 16 mph and under. Among the cycling community, “regular” bicycle users do not need, nor want the expense of an e-bike.

A few municipalities that have successfully addressed regulating e-bike usage on multi-use trails, in a proper fashion, are Miami, St. Petersburg and Tampa Florida, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Tuscon, Washington DC, Boulder, Park City, Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis / St Paul, Boise, Tempe, Scottsdale, Austin TX, Pittsburgh and Boston.

Florida multi-use trails allowing Class I, II and III e-bikes are discussed in the following article, accessible by this internet link https://www.tripstodiscover.com/bike-trails-in-florida/

Notice that mention is made of the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail, a 100 foot wide

Right-of-Way (ROW) currently extending approximately 14.5 miles from Imeson Road in Jacksonville to the Town of Baldwin. That trail is a “destination” ride for the North Florida Bicycle Club.

https://www.coj.net/departments/parks-and-recreation/recreation-andcommunity-programming/parks/jacksonville-baldwin-rail-trail.aspx

Also allowing e-bikes is the Florida Greenways and Trails System supported by the advocacy group, the Florida Greenways & Trails Foundation http://fgtf.org/

Regrettably, Amelia Island and Fernandina County trails are not currently shown being a part of the Florida Greenways and Trails System. They should be, as use of the system generates billions of dollars income to local communities. [3]

In fact, Dundein, Florida, west of Tampa, has in recent years realized a re-birth of their tourist industry, in part because of the accessibility of The Pinellas (bicycle) trail. [4]

Many cyclists rent my condo because Amelia is a cycling paradise. E-bike use certainly adds to its appeal. Hundreds of short-term-rental units and hotel/motel rooms throughout Nassau County are occupied every day by cyclists, throughout the year, generating significant county revenue. Their hotel/motel and sales taxes pay for new trails and trail maintenance. They deserve to enjoy the best cycling experience possible. To enact such a statute would result in reduced marketability and a decrease in county income with no guarantee of any benefit towards trail safety.

Respectfully,

Ricky Bley

https://ameliacondo.com/

[1] https://www.bicycleretailer.com/industry-news/2020/07/22/booms-gone-electric

[2]

https://www.slbikeclub.org/content.aspx? page_id=22&club_id=639044&module_id=359932

E-Bikes and Group Rides (part two)

  • https://www.tripstodiscover.com/best-towns-in-florida-to-ride-your-bike/ https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/florida/charming-beach-towns-fl/ https://www.stpete.org/parks_and_recreation/city_trails/index.php http://www.pinellastrail.us/ https://floridabicycle.org/ https://www.bikeleague.org/
  • https://www.traillink.com/city/dunedin-fl-trails/ https://www.tripstodiscover.com/best-towns-in-florida-to-ride-your-bike/ https://kaferacer.com/pages/dunedin-coffee-shop

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g34187-d4375643-ReviewsDunedin_Cyclery-Dunedin_Florida.html https://www.visitflorida.com/en-us/cities/dunedin.html http://www.pinellastrail.us/

Share this story!