NewsPinellas County


Pinellas beach communities ban e-bikes, e-scooters on the sand

Electric Bike riders on St. Pete Beach
Posted at 5:31 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-11 10:46:13-05

ST. PETE BEACH, Fla. — Some Pinellas County beach communities are cracking down on electric bikes and scooters.

St. Pete Beach is the latest city to ban motorized bikes, scooters and skateboards on the beach and on sidewalks along Gulf Boulevard and several coastal communities could soon follow suit.

David Kichler and his wife just bought electric bikes and they couldn’t wait to use them for one experience in particular.

“We bought them so that we could ride ‘em on the beach,” Kichler explained.

But towns like North Redington Beach, Madeira Beach, and St. Pete Beach are pumping the brakes.

“You’ve got so many people walking out here and the e-bikes go very fast, they make no noise so they’re right upon people before they know it. I’ve got complaints everywhere,” North Redington Beach Mayor Bill Queen explained.

Queen continued, “We’ve got so many pedestrians walking the beach out here who are not paying attention, you’ve got kids walking down by the water and the bikes go by 20, 25 miles per hour. And if you’ve been on a bicycle, you know that’s fast!”

In many communities, electric bikes, scooters, and skateboards were banned on the beach prior to 2020. Then, a change in Florida’s state law in 2020 allowed electric bikes to ride wherever regular bikes were allowed. Several communities petitioned state leaders to be able to make their own local rules banning e-bikes and scooters from certain areas.

Right now, the rules vary from one beach town to the next. However, several coastal communities in Tampa Bay tell ABC Action News that they are now considering a similar e-bike and e-scooter ban on the beach.

Electric Bike Rider St. Pete Beach

Instead, e-bike riders are encouraged to use the bike lanes that run along Gulf Boulevard.

“I won’t do it. I just won’t do it. It’s too busy,” Kichler said looking at the busy street.

E-bike rental shops like Tampa Bay EBikes are pivoting and encouraging customers to explore areas off the sand.

“You don’t necessarily have to ride the beach to enjoy the beach,” said Jayson Patry.

Maps outside of the shop where Patry works in Indian Shores point renters to local parks and the Pinellas Trail instead.

“We’re all about just making sure we work with our community. If the cities say no to riding on the beach, we understand and respect that,” Patry added.

With 130 million electric bikes expected to be sold in the US over the next 3 years, Kichler hopes local communities will find ways to adapt.

“We’ll go to where we can ride the bikes more. That’s why we bought them so if we can’t ride them here, we will go to other areas where we can,” he said.

Mayor Queen hopes everyone will abide by the rules to make beach communities safe for everyone. “We’re not trying to write tickets, we’re just trying to get people to go by the rules,” he said.