In Florida, the rules of the road are not just about cars and other motor vehicles. Even bicyclists and skateboarders must follow the law when they’re out and about on public streets. In cities like Orlando, it is currently illegal to ride a bicycle or skateboard on a public sidewalk. But the Orlando City Council recently considering adoption of a new local ordinance that would change those rules.
Skateboarding May Be a Permitted Mode of “Transportation” on Sidewalks
At its September 17 meeting, the Council voted unanimously to endorse Ordinance No. 2018-56, which rewrites local traffic rules with respect to bicycles and skateboards. The ordinance’s introductory language states that opening Orlando’s sidewalks to skateboards and bicycles is consistent with the Council’s long-term plan to ensure that a “majority of all trips in the City are made by foot, bike, carpooling, or transit,” and that “properly regulated, skateboarding and bicycle sharing services offer a viable, healthy, and environmentally sustainable transportation option.”
To be clear, with respect to skateboarding the ordinance is designed to encourage the use of such devices for transportation only. It does not cover individuals who use their boards to perform “tricks, jumps, gymnastics, grinding, or other physical feats unnecessary to the efficient conveyance or movement of the person from one location to another.” Within these parameters, the ordinance permits skateboarders to use the sidewalk, provided they yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and give an “audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.”
The ordinance would further restrict the speed of motorized skateboards on sidewalks to no more than 15 miles per hour. And any skateboarder under the age of 16 must wear a helmet “that is properly fitted” and fastened to their head by a strap. Failure to follow any of these rules may result in a fine.
Expanding Bike Sharing Opportunities
Ordinance 2018-56 would also create new rules to permit “bike sharing” companies in Orlando. According to Spectrum News 13, only one such company is presently allowed to operate in the city. Bike share companies allow individuals to rent bicycles, typically via a smartphone app, for short periods of time. Under existing city regulations, the bike share company must provide “docks” for their rental bikes. But the new ordinance would authorize “dockless” services–in other words, the renter can simply abandon the bike once they are done using it.
The new bike share rules would require any company to obtain a permit annually from the city and meet certain insurance, bonding, and reporting requirements.
Have You Been Charged with a Traffic Offense? We Can Help
The City Council must still pass Ordinance 2018-56 a second time at its October 8 meeting. But assuming the new rules do take effect, it will be good news for skateboarders and bicyclists throughout the city. Of course, with new rights comes new responsibilities. And if you are cited for a traffic offense related to the use of any vehicle on a public street or sidewalk and need legal advice, contact the experienced Orlando criminal defense lawyers at Moses & Rooth today by calling (407) 377-0150.