Friday, May 24

Jupiter police to crack down on electric bicycle violations

Jupiter police are seeing more electric bicycles in the past year than ever before as they launch their Electric Bicycle Safety Campaign.

“These are not your typical bicycles, they go much faster than a typical child can be able to pedal,” Chief of Police David England said. “We have had a couple of crashes recently. Thank goodness no one was killed.”

The goal is for bicyclists and drivers on the road to follow the rules.

“We hope for a voluntary compliance but if we have to, we will go to an enforcement side of that,” England said.

He said the growth and variety of electric transportation has been difficult for Florida statutes to keep up with but said that e-bikes must follow the same rules as a bicycle when it’s on the road or a sidewalk.

“Bicycles are allowed to be driven on a sidewalk or in the street whereas an electric motorcycle is basically an unregistered motor vehicle, and they are only allowed to be driven on private property,” England said. “We do see both of them on the road.”

England said e-bikes max out at 28 mph but e-motorcycles can hit speeds of 60 mph with a potential to go even faster.

England said because the state of Florida doesn’t collect information specific to e-bikes versus regular bicycles, one of their campaign initiatives is going to be to start tracking them so that they can determine what sort of statistics they have experienced and how their campaign has affected the rate of crashes.

“At the end of the day we’re just worried about the kids and we’re worried about the individuals who are operating these bicycles and we care about their safety,” England said. “To keep themselves safe, to keep the rest of the motoring public safe, and to keep all the pedestrians on the sidewalk safe.”

He said some of the biggest violators have been middle school-aged children in the Abacoa area.

“I have seen a lot of issues in the past couple of months,” Tiffany Higley, a parent in Jupiter, said. “There are some drivers that don’t pay attention, that definitely aren’t on the ball when it comes to the driving which makes it even scarier when the kids aren’t paying attention.”

She said e-bikes have been a hazard driving through town.

“How often have you had to slam your breaks to avoid one of these kids?” WPTV reporter Joel Lopez asked.

“At least two times,” Higley said.

She shared a dashcam video showing a group of children riding on e-bikes going through a red light at an intersection as traffic passed by.

“Are you opposed to kids having these tools?” Lopez asked.

“No, absolutely not and I’m not saying we should ban them by any means. I just feel we should be much safer about it,” Higley said.

England said police are having more patrol in areas that have reported issues.

He plans to take his and residents’ concerns to the Jupiter Town Council meeting Wednesday.

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