Destin looks to potentially regulate e-bikes on sidewalks

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

With safety in mind, the city of Destin will be taking a look at e-bikes and motorized scooters on city sidewalks. 

“In case you haven’t seen them, they are two-wheel high speed bicycles that are traversing around the city … and two-wheel scooters,” Councilman Kevin Schmidt said at a recent council meeting. 

Schmidt said e-bikes have become very popular and more and more are popping up. 

“They are a means of transportation for people to get to work … I love that,” he said.  

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“But what I’m concerned about is the safety side of things,” Schmidt said, noting his concern for the people on the bikes, people walking on the sidewalks and vehicles. 

“I know a lot of discussion will come from this in the future, but we’ve got to start somewhere. I’d hate to see something happen and wish we had done something,” Schmidt said. 

Some of the questions to be asked is who and how can they enforce regulations for e-bikes on sidewalks.

“I get that, but we still need take a proactive approach to provide safety for a new thing,” Schmidt said. 

Schmidt made a motion to direct city staff to look into what other municipalities are doing as far as e-bikes and scooters to address concerns. Teresa Hebert, seconded. 

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Councilman Jim Bagby asked that the motion be amended to have city staff work with the public works and public safety committees. 

“Let's filter it through them … they will ask 90 percent of the questions that we would ask,” Bagby said.  

The motion was amended and passed unanimously. 

Councilman Dewey Destin said he was under the impression that it was illegal for e-bikes to be on the sidewalks and asked for clarification. 

Kim Kopp, land use attorney for the city, said a new law recently passed that bicycles and e-bikes are both allowed on sidewalks, unless a local government passes an ordinance. 

Kopp also said under state law, the city can regulate the speed on the e-bikes not to exceed 15 miles per hour.  

“I wasn’t aware of the new law … so we do have some work to do,” Destin said. 

Newly elected councilman Matthew Sweetser weighed in on the e-bikes on sidewalks. He told of a friend’s child who was recently injured riding a scooter on the sidewalk when he hit a gap in the walkway. 

“Any electronic scooter or whatever doesn’t need to be on the sidewalk,” Sweetser said.