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Several years after Leesfield & Partners founder Ira Leesfield protested the use of E-bikes and scooters in Coconut Grove, data shows he was right to object.

Whether it’s whizzing past unsuspecting pedestrians on sidewalks or garnering virality online, it is clear E-bikes, and irresponsible operators, are becoming more prominent in South Florida. 

In May, a video showing a man on an E-scooter carrying a passenger and also towing another friend on a standard bicycle gained traction online. If on a residential road, or even a sidewalk, one might think the video to be funny, however, it is clear that the scooter is speeding full-force down the shoulder of a Miami highway. Dumbfounded drivers can be seen slowing down in the video to get a good look at the incredulous scene. A woman heading toward Downtown Miami on her E-Scooter recently was also recorded merging lanes and cruising down a Miami highway. Online critics bashed the move as irresponsible and a reason as to why there are so many accidents in the city. 

Unfortunately, the narrative surrounding these videos is not an uncommon one. It seems that every day there is a new clip online of E-transport users testing their limits, creating hazards for distracted drivers and leaving themselves and others vulnerable to injury. The latest available data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission states that there was a 21% increase from 2021 to 2022 in injuries involving these electric modes of transportation in the United States. Minors 14 years old and younger make up a “significant” amount of the reported injuries, according to reporting from CBS Miami. 

In New York, where food delivery drivers run rampant and where there are millions of commuters, the rise in E-bike crashes has resulted in a flurry of hit-and-runs. In an article put out by the New York Times warning pedestrians and E-bike users about the dangers surrounding this mode of transportation, the message was clear – something must be done. It’s an urgent plea for safety that Leesfield & Partners Founder and Managing Partner, Ira Leesfield, has been endorsing since at least 2019, calling the use of E-bikes an “epidemic.” 

The problem, Leesfield said in an Op-Ed published on the law firm’s blogsite, is that there is no licensing for these products or clear rules for where they can be driven. E-bike and scooter riders can be seen cruising wherever they please – on sidewalks, weaving through traffic on U.S. 1 and on highways. 

“Being unsightly may not be unforgivable, but landing innocent pedestrians or others in a neurosurgical coma is,” Leesfield said. “Not to mention a slew of other reported serious injuries … Just ask those who work at Hospitals and Emergency rooms or walk-in medical facilities.” 

E-bikes ‘Must Play by the Same Rules’

In New York City, where almost 6% of adults reported to the city’s Department of Transportation that they regularly use E-bikes, injuries and deaths involving the electric bicycles have spurred a call to action. In March, the NYC DOT launched an education campaign on E-bike safety and a woman who suffered a traumatic brain injury after someone on an E-bike hit her in 2022, championed the NYC E-Vehicle Safety alliance, a coalition of pedestrians and cyclists alike advocating for the licensing and registration for E-bikes. The alliance is made up of about 74 people who were injured by E-bike riders, all of which were hit-and-run cases, according to reporting.

In Miami, these bikes are often parked outside of local bars and restaurants leaving the door open for patrons who may not be able to drive to easily rent one and be on their way – a recipe for disaster. State law permits the use of these vehicles anywhere a normal bike is allowed including the road, bike lanes and multi-use paths. 

In Miami Beach, these motorized vehicles have been banned from all boardwalks and beach paths and a ‘zero tolerance’ policy was adopted by the Miami Beach Police Department last month for E-bikes on the beach pedestrian path, which stretches from Bal Harbour to South Pointe Park. In Key Biscayne, the vehicles have been temporarily banned from all roadways, sidewalks, beaches and bicycle paths, excluding Crandon Park and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, as of May 14, 2024. The ban comes after the tragic death of a beloved teacher, 66-year-old Megan Andrews who was hit by a 12-year-old boy riding an E-bike in February.

Regulations like minimum age requirements, helmet usage and requiring insurance are crucial to ensuring the safety of both riders and unsuspecting pedestrians. 

“[ In Florida,] we regulate the age and education of auto operators and even require insurance,” Leesfield said. “The E-bike operators and, more importantly, the distributors must play by some rules.”

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