by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
An ordinance to prohibit the use of electric bicycles on the city’s shared use path system generated a long conversation Wednesday, Oct. 2, among the Sanibel City Council members. The original ordinance, 19-006, was ultimately withdrawn and council voted to hold a first reading in November of an ordinance that would exclude class one e-bikes from the ban.
“I know there has been a lot anxiety over this and a lot of input, but right now all we have done is take this off the table and indicated it will come back for a first reading,” said Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane. “We’ll go through the whole process of any input. We are just trying to get this right.”
Many island residents have objected to the ban including the class one or pedal assist bikes, as they are used as a main mode of transportation or have provided a way for those with health issues or who are older to remain active. It has also been contended that the pedal assist bikes are limited to relatively low speeds and slower than the class two throttle bikes. Residents in favor of a complete ban have cited safety, especially during tourist season, as their main concern in allowing e-bikes on the narrow paths.
Ruane recommended reaching out to the Florida League of Cities as resource to “make this a really good piece of legislation.” He said there are safety and enforcement concerns that have not been addressed in the originally proposed ordinance. “I’m just trying to make sure it’s comprehensive enough and bold enough,” Ruane said.
Councilwoman Holly Smith stated she had reached out to the League of Cities, which indicated “the talk in Tallahassee right now is the City of Sanibel will be the first to write an ordinance of inclusion. I think if we are doing that, we need to do it carefully.” Smith was initially against allowing any bicycles that were not solely human powered on the Shared Use Path, but is now in favor of pedal assist bikes.
Councilman Richard Johnson, who is also in favor of pedal assist bikes, noted that personal responsibility has not been discussed and where education is very important. Councilman Jason Maughan said he has never wanted to ban the pedal assist bikes and was comfortable with the drafted ordinance, even making a motion to approve it.
Vice Mayor Mick Denham has been working on the e-bike ordinance since earlier this year and in strong favor of a complete ban. However, he was willing to consider alternative language that would preclude pedal assist bikes operated by a person 18 years of age or older. Denham said he will continue working on the ordinance by reaching out to the League of Cities and others prior to the Nov. 5 council meeting.
Entertainment at The Jac
Council approved part of a request for an entertainment license at The Jac Island Grille and Rum Bar, 1223 Periwinkle Way. The restaurant requested permission to have live music indoors up to midnight or outdoor amplified live music until 10 p.m. Council denied the request for outdoor music and approved the indoor music for one year.