by SC Publisher Shannen Hayes
Electric bicycles will be prohibited on Sanibel’s beaches at the end of August, following a unanimous vote by City Council. Ordinance 22-006 passed Tuesday, Aug. 16, and without any public comment.
Councilman Mike Miller proposed banning e-bikes in May, after he saw a social media advertisement for them available to ride on the islands’ beaches. He said the ad combined with his knowledge of e-bikes were the impetus for his proposed ban.
“I think e-bikes are a wonderful advancement in cycling in that they allow people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to bike to do so and to enjoy the beauty of our island,” said Miller, who is an avid bicyclist. “But they do not belong on our beaches.”
Wider tires and the motor assistance of electric bicycles make them easier to ride on the beach compared to human-powered bicycles. And it is common to ride close to the water, where the sand is more compact and most beach activity takes place.
Concern was raised by council and the public over increased bicycle traffic on the beach and the danger it posed to other beachgoers and wildlife which share the shore. The potential merits of banning all bikes or only e-bikes were discussed in May. A Santiva Chronicle poll showed strong community support for a ban on all bikes.
The city already had ordinances prohibiting mopeds and electric or motorized vehicles on the beach or dunes systems in the interest of protecting them. All non-human-powered vehicles are now prohibited under the new ordinance. Motorized wheelchairs and other power-driven mobility devices are the exception.
“I am pleased that council voted unanimously to protect our beach wildlife and the children using our beach from these vehicles that are capable of speeds up to 28 mph,” said Miller.