Florida is one of the most popular biking states in the United States. It has level terrain, fantastic weather, and over one hundred miles of biking trails.
In 2019, The League of American Bicyclists ranked Florida as the #10 most bike-friendly state.
So, what if you prefer to ride on an electric bike?
Keep reading to find out if electric bikes are legal in Florida and where you can ride your e-bike in Florida.
Yes, Electric Bikes Are Legal In Florida
Electric bikes have been gaining popularity in recent years, encompassing 10% of all bike sales from 2017 to 2018.
They not only allow inexperienced riders to enjoy the benefits of biking, but they also provide a crucial role in transportation.
In July 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis joined over 20 states in defining laws related to electric bikes and where e-bikes are allowed.
In short, the law defined an e-bike as a bicycle. Therefore, giving an e-bike rider the same rights and responsibilities as a traditional bike rider.
The statute also eliminated several previous restrictions placed on electric bikes.
It removed the statewide registration requirement and discarded the age requirement that restricted children under the age of 16 from operating motorized bikes.
The most important aspect of House Bill 971 was establishing a classification system for electric bikes in Florida.
- Class 1 – Electric bikes with a motor that only assists the rider when pedaling and stops when the e-bike reaches 20 MPH.
- Class 2 – Electric bikes with a motor that has a throttle only. The throttle is used to propel the rider without pedaling and stops when the e-bike reaches 20 MPH.
- Class 3 – Electric bikes with a motor that only assists the rider when pedaling and stops when the e-bike reaches 28 MPH.
The new law established that e-bikes can be operated anywhere traditional bikes are allowed. E-bikes can now be used on bike lanes, streets, sidewalks, and multi-use paths.
Riders are no longer required to register their e-bikes. They do not have to take out auto insurance, and they do not have to have a specialized license to operate.
Even though Florida now grants e-bikes to be ridden where traditional bikes are allowed, some restrictions exist when riding e-bikes in Florida State Parks.
According to Florida’s Statue, Section 316.003 and Section 316.1995, only human-powered and human-powered with electric assist are allowed in Florida State Parks. Human-powered e-bikes with gas-assist and motorized (electric or gas) bikes are not allowed.
Furthermore, most major trail systems in Florida do not allow e-bikes; however, riding e-bikes on shared-use trails is an exception to the rule.
The Sun Trail is an example of a shared-use trail where riders can operate electric bikes.
Bicycle riding on sidewalks is permitted according to Florida State Laws.
House Bill 971 gave classification to e-bikes and declared that e-bike riders have the same rights and responsibilities as traditional two-wheeled bicycle riders and pedestrians.
Since traditional bicycle riders have always been allowed to ride on sidewalks and other dedicated lanes, the new law gives these same rights to e-bike riders.
Nonetheless, counties and municipalities still have the right to pass ordinances to regulate e-bike operation on sidewalks, streets, highways, and other biking areas.
One such regulation many beach communities adopted is no riding e-bikes on the beach.
Some Pinellas County beach communities have begun to ban e-bikes on the beach and sidewalks near popular beach boulevards.
North Redington Beach, Madeira Beach, and St. Pete Beach are some of the latest cities to implement these regulations.
E-bike riders in these communities are encouraged to use bike lanes, local parks, and the Pinellas Trail.
E-bike riders can now ride on several trails in Florida, otherwise restricted before the change in Florida State Law for e-bikes.
Florida offers trails for all skill levels, from urban paved trails to popular bird-watching trails, to beach trails. Here are a few of the most popular Florida trails that allow e-bikes.
- Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, Pinellas County (38-mile trail) – The Pinellas County Trail offers beautiful Florida scenery while connecting several parks, residential areas, and coastal communities.
- Shark Valley Trail, Everglades (15-mile trail) – The Shark Valley Trail is a heavily trafficked paved loop trail. It accommodates all skill levels and is accessible all year long.
- Withlacoochee State Trail, Dunnellon (46-mile trail) – The Withlacoochee State Trail is the longest paved rail-trail in Florida. It welcomes all skill levels and meanders through several popular Florida towns.
- The Lake Trail, Palm Beach (5.5-mile trail) – The Lake Trail in Palm Beach is one of the shortest Florida trails. It is perfect for families and beginner e-bikers.
- Sanibel Island Bike Trails, Sanibel Island (22-mile trail) – Sanibel Island Bike Trails is popular among beachgoers. It provides access to several beaches, the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, lighthouses, and roadside attractions.
- Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail, Jacksonville (14.5-mile trail) – Jacksonville Baldwin Rail Trail is one of the oldest biking trails in Florida. It features plenty of wildlife viewing areas, beautiful wetlands, and many historical sites.
- West Orange Trail, Winter Garden (26-mile trail) – The West Orange Trail is a very popular urban trail that runs from Killarney Station through downtown Winter Garden. Killarney Station has several benches, and picnic tables and even offers a bike rental facility.
Florida is a friendly state for traditional bikers and those who ride e-bikes. Before 2020, there were several restrictions on e-bike use; however, with a change in Florida bike laws, e-bikers now have the same opportunities to ride in Florida.
Even though the new law lifted many e-bike restrictions, Florida still allows counties and municipalities to pass ordinances to regulate e-bike operations.
So, when preparing for your next e-bike ride in Florida, be sure to check all local rules and regulations.
Most of all, always be safe and happy biking!
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