PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — The St. Pete Beach city commission recently banned all electric bicycles from operating on the beach and traditional bicycles may be next.
"To have a complete ban is just taking away in one fell swoop something we really enjoy and I think a lot of other people do too," said resident Lisa Kurzman, 58. "I think it's a big deal."
What You Need To Know
- On Dec. 14, city commission banned all micromobility devices from beach and sidewalks
- Next month the commission will decide whether or not to ban regular bicycles
- In 2020, the beach stewardship comittee recommended all bicycles be banned from the beach
On Dec. 14, city commissioners passed the "Micromobility Ordinance" which bans the use of motorized bicycles, skateboards, scooters and hoverboards on the beach or sidewalk. City leaders said they had gotten complaints from beachgoers who had been forced to dodge e-bikes.
The primary objective of the commission is the safety of residents and visitors, according to Mayor Al Johnson.
Lisa Kurzman said the new law has forced riders onto busy streets like Gulf Boulevard.
"It's like the most dangerous place in America or something like that to ride your bicycle on Gulf Boulevard," she said. "So, to be forced to do that, instead of the sidewalk or beach, it's crazy and it's scary."
Daily beach walkers like Philip Smithie, 73, who's lived in St. Pete Beach for 30 years, said he supports the new ban.
"I applaud the city for bringing the ordinance out because it needed to be done," he said. "Somebody will get hurt and nobody wants that."
Smithie said his biggest concern is that a child will get hit. The longtime beach resident said he has nearly been struck a few times.
"They come along and they don't want to put the wheels in the water. So, they come alongside and I've been brushed several times," said Smithie. "I don't want to see a toddler hurt. I don't think any bicycle needs to be on the beach."
In 2020, the Beach Stewardship Committee recommended no bicycles of any type should be allowed to operate on the beach. City leaders will address regular bicycles being allowed on the beach in February, when the comprehensive beach regulation ordinance comes before the commission, according to City Manager Alex Rey.
Kurzman said she supports a ban on all rental electric bicycles but believes residents should still be able to ride their own.
"To have it taken away, it seems without a lot of thought into it. I mean there could be other changes made," she said. "Just not enough public awareness. I don't know if people really understood."