Everything you Need to Know About E-Bikes in South Florida Explained by a Coral Springs, Florida Bike Injury Attorney
“How is that person going so fast? They make it look so easy!” you think as you huff and puff on your bicycle, regretting the soreness you know you’re going to feel in the morning.
Chances are they’re not an Olympian; they’re probably riding an E-Bike, also called electric bicycle or electric-assisted bicycle.
Electric bicycles are booming in popularity in South Florida and bike retailers are rejoicing. But what are they? Electric bicycles have a small electric motor integrated into the gears that can assist and empower each pedal-stroke to propel you further, faster, and with much less effort. Because of these benefits, E-Bikes are becoming quite popular, whether you are getting into exercise, using your bike to run errands, or hoping to switch up your daily commute. E-Bikes open the world of bike travel to the average person, especially in South Florida. No Tour de France experience is necessary!
In Florida, eBikes are classified as bicycles. You can learn all about important Florida Bike Laws on our site.
This means that E-Bike rides have all the rights, privileges and duties of a cyclist. You can ride them on the street and, where local law permits, on the sidewalk. Since they are still primarily powered by the rider, they are considered a type of bicycle and not a motorcycle, moped, or scooter (which are primarily powered by a motor).
However, Florida law uses three classifications of E-Bikes that are useful to know (Florida Law 316.003(23)):
- Class 1: An E-Bike that only assists while pedaling and cannot assist at speeds greater than 20 mph.
- Class 2: An E-Bike that can be used to assist your pedaling or operate exclusively to propel the bicycle but cannot assist or propel at speeds greater than 20 mph.
- Class 3: An E-Bike that only assists while you pedal and cannot assist at speeds greater than 28 mph.
If an E-Bike falls outside these classifications, it’s likely that it may be considered a moped or a motorcycle in Florida.
E-Bikes have many advantages and benefits. That’s why they are becoming so popular in South Florida. However, there are definitely some things worth considering to see if an E-Bike is a good fit for you. Below are some of the upsides and downsides to E-Bikes in Florida.
- E-Bikes make fitness accessible: Have you been thinking of making some healthy lifestyle changes but feel overwhelmed by the thought of biking to work in the South Florida heat every day? Or maybe you just want to explore your city and don’t want to get stranded after pulling a muscle. An E-Bike gives you the extra boost you need to make the switch.
- Potential tax breaks For E-Bike owners: There is a bill before the House that, if passed, would allow for a 30% refundable tax credit for the purchase of an E-Bike.
- Great for the environment: E-Bikes contribute a minuscule amount to carbon emissions, especially since many are solar-powered or are recharged by your own pedal strokes. Even plug-in models take significantly less energy than an electric car. Still, that little bit of energy gives you the extra oomph you need to get around efficiently without having to show up at your destination as a sweaty mess.
- E-Bike learning curve: “It’s like riding a bike.” Well, with E-Bikes, that saying isn’t necessarily true. Just because E-Bikes are legally considered bicycles in Florida doesn’t mean they handle like one. Due to the electric assist function, E-Bikes can handle quite differently than your average bicycle. This is an easy adjustment to make for experienced cyclists, but for someone just starting out on an E-Bike this could make them more prone to accidents or losing control while riding. Inexperienced riders may also not realize how fast they are going and get into trouble that way. If you are going to ride an E-Bike, take some time to practice and get used to how it rides! One big thing to get used to will be learning that it might take you longer to stop than anticipated because you’ll be traveling faster than you may think you are.
- Drivers might misjudge your speed: Most E-Bikes look nearly identical to a standard bicycle. This means that automobile drivers might not realize how fast you are going. If going 20 mph on your E-Bike feels like a breeze to you, a driver who just glances might think you’re cruising at a leisurely pace of 5-10 mph. This could cause them to turn into you or pass you dangerously. It’s important to stay aware of your surroundings - including cars and unaware drivers - as you ride an E-Bike.
- E-Bike rental dangers: Many bike rental and bike-share companies in South Florida are now providing E-Bikes in their line-up. This means you may have people who don’t know the bike rules of the road may be riding E-Bikes. This could put both you and them at risk of accident and injury. If you rent a bike as a tourist and are less familiar with the area, that’s another risk factor as you cruise around on a rented E-Bike in Fort Lauderdale.
As stated above, Florida Law classifies E-Bikes as bicycles. This means that E-Bikes may ride on sidewalks as long as they follow the regulations. Florida Law makes it very clear that E-Bikes are allowed on sidewalks (Florida Statute 316.1995, see also 316.20655). However, it also makes it very clear that local governments such as cities and counties can make regulations to limit or prohibit the use of E-Bikes on trails, sidewalks, and multi-use paths.
For example, in Miami Beach E-Bikes are prohibited from all sidewalks in the city and along the Beachwalk, South Pointe Park and Pier, Marina Baywalk, and Lincoln Road Mall.
It is best to check your local regulations about riding E-Bikes on the sidewalk, and if you are in a crowded area such as cities, stick to the streets. You don’t want to run into a pedestrian going 20 mph on an E-Bike!
No, you do not need a license to ride an E-Bike in South Florida. Florida law clearly exempts E-bikes from laws regarding licensing, registration, and titles (Florida Law 316.20655(2)). Just like a bike, you can hop on an E-Bike any time you like.
That depends on what you mean and how safe you want to be. According to Florida law, “An electric bicycle or an operator of an electric bicycle is not subject to the provisions of law relating to financial responsibility” (Florida Law 316.20655(2)).
That means insurance is not required by law. However, you may want to maintain an insurance policy that provides coverage in the event you are injured while riding a bicycle. In Florida, an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist policy is best, and can provide coverage for you if the motorist who hit you doesn’t have proper insurance. Often, your car insurance should extend to protect you while on a bike or E-Bike, but you can always ask your car insurance company to confirm.
While riding an E-Bike in Florida, you are not required to wear a helmet if you are over 16 years of age.
However, as E-Bike accident injury lawyers, we recommend you wear one anyway. The safety benefits cannot be overstated—it could be the difference between life and death. Read more about helmets and our recommendations here.
How to Get Legal Help After A Florida E-Bike Accident: FREE Consultation with a Bike Injury Attorney
If you or someone you love suffered injuries while riding an E-Bike in Florida, a personal injury lawsuit may be the only way that you can fully recover financially.
Many injured riders are eligible to seek compensation from the expenses related to the accident, including emergency medical treatment and long-term care needs, physical therapy and rehabilitation, and lost wages, as well as compensation for the pain and suffering.
The Law Office of Andrew G. Rosenberg, P.A. is here to help bicyclists and E-Bike riders who have been injured by careless or negligent drivers start the process of financial recovery. If you've been hurt in an E-Bike accident you need to speak with an experienced Florida bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Please contact us online or call our Coral Springs office directly at (954) 755-7803 to schedule your free consultation. We proudly serve Florida residents including all of Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton Miami-Dade County, Broward County, Palm Beach County and all points in between.