PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla — Electric Bikes seem to be everywhere, and that includes the Pinellas Trail. County officials said they’ve seen a huge increase in people using the trail because of the pandemic and now they want your help to better understand how e-bikes fit into the flow of the other users on the trail.
“E-bikes allow you to go further and faster and for a lot of people that has opened up to seeing more of the trail,” said Tony Fabrizio, the senior public relations coordinator for Pinellas County. “People who have disabilities, people who are older perhaps and can’t ride 20 or 30 miles, it’s been great for them”
He said some people even use them as commuter bikes going to and from work.
“E-bikes are legal on the trail,” he said. “Under state law, there are three classes of E-bikes and none of them are being regulated in Pinellas County right now.”
But the county does want to better understand how they fit in with other users on the trail. That includes people who run, walk, and bike on traditional bikes. They want feedback, so they’ve opened up a survey online.
“They need to learn some protocol,” said Clyde Turner, who is an avid bicyclist. “Let people know when you’re passing because some of them are real quiet.”
Turner had no problem sharing his thoughts about e-bikes. He thinks they do belong on the trail but does think sometimes they go a little too fast.
“I have them pass me sometimes either they’re going up the bridge or down, and you don’t hear them, and all of a sudden they zoom and go by you, and if you’re riding with someone and you swerve over to the left they’ll hit you,” he said.
Twila Newman said from what she’s seen so far, e-bike riders seem to be courteous but she agrees they’re a bit fast.
“Where we normally walk is on the other side of the overpass, they seem to really watch out for the people but yes I have seen, as we’re walking off the trail, that they are a little bit fast.”
Four days into the survey, Fabrizio said 1,100 people responded. He said the county already plans to change signs to show they are legal but said depending on the feedback they may need some safety education.
To take the survey, click here. It is open until April 22.