Woman Dies in Collision with Electric Bike, Leads to Emergency Ban on E-Bikes

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A recent tragedy in South Florida has stirred up controversy and strong emotions after the unfortunate death of longtime Key Biscayne resident Megan Andrews. Andrews was riding her bicycle down a dark stretch of roads when she collided with a 12-year-old boy on an electric bike. The 66-year-old Andrews was fatally injured while the boy sustained minor injuries.

In the days following the accident, residents of Key Biscayne called for an immediate ban on all micromobility vehicles, including e-scooters, e-skateboards and electric bikes. More than 100 residents were in attendance for a special council meeting where angry residents and bereaved family members pleaded with the local council to ban all micromobility vehicles in the wake of the accident.

After a tense meeting, which included one proponent for electric bikes getting booed and removed from the meeting for her support of electric bikes, the council voted unanimously on an emergency 60-day ban of all e-mobility vehicles in the Key Biscayne area.

Related: Controversial New Bill Proposed to Implement Licensing for E-Bikers

Who, If Anyone, Is To Blame?

While the city council chose to quickly address the issue, this is nothing new to the residents of Key Biscayne. The topic of electric vehicles has been an issue for over two years now, with a bill brought forth by State Representative Vicki Lopez in 2023 not getting past the committee.

While this is certainly a tragic accident, the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner has ruled the death of Andrews an accident, and many people in the community are blaming the e-mobility vehicles themselves for the accident. With emotions running high due to the unforeseen death, others are looking at other factors that need to be addressed and may have contributed to the accident.

Regulations on electric bikes, as well as the need for improved infrastructure, are two topics that have been in the news recently. Looking for ways to address these issues, as well as educating both cyclists and drivers on the rules of the road are of paramount importance if the future of micromobility is to merge with traditional mobility infrastructure.

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As more and more people make the switch from their traditional vehicles in favour of an e-bike or scooter, the educational side of road safety needs to grow at the same rate as e-mobility sales. As well as educating both riders and drivers, cities also need to update their infrastructure to include more bike lanes, signage and innovative traffic lights that take into consideration the growing number of cyclists on the road.

According to a report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, micromobility injuries increased 21% in 2022 with an average 23% increase annually since 2017. The need for more safety regulations and infrastructure is obvious, this also needs to extend to other cyclists and motor vehicle drivers. More education around road safety, and the need for proper safety equipment (Andrews was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, while the young boy was), as well as educating riders on the proper handling of the electric bikes, are all factors contributing to a higher number of accidents and injuries.

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Tragic Circumstances

While this accident is certainly tragic, it is also just that, an accident. They happen every day, in vehicles, on sidewalks, or at home. There is no way to know when or how they might happen. What is needed are some frank discussions about how to reduce the amount of avoidable accidents through education and policy change. However, outright banning of electric bikes may not be the solution to this tragedy. There are almost 43000 motor vehicle deaths every year in the USA and yet we haven't banned their day-to-day use. Instead, infrastructure has been improved, the cars have better safety features, and drivers are required to pass a test before they can operate a motor vehicle. Is this what needs to be done for e-bikes? The possibility of that being implemented in the future is very real.

In the wake of a tragic event such as the death of Megan Andrews, it is fair for friends, family and community members to be upset at the loss of a beloved resident. Hopefully, it will lead to some serious discussions about how to improve the safety and wellbeing of not only the Key Biscayne residents but for a broader spectrum of people across the country.