The Anatomy Of An E-Bike Ban In Florida

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A recent video by Mike Fede shares, in great detail, how a ban on e-bikes came to be in Key Biscayne, Florida. Instead of just sharing the story and why banning bikes was a mistake, Mike dissects the ban, showing us exactly how one thing leads to another to lead from tragedy to bigger tragedies. Let’s take a look at the video:

Sadly, the whole thing started out with a deadly accident. He’s not insensitive about the death, but he does point out that we don’t act like this with cars and other things in life that involve risk. I’ll go a little deeper on this one and point out that this is an example of the “if it saves one life” fallacy.

The fact is, we can’t operate like that if we want to have a successful civilization. While every lost life is a tragedy, we’d have to ban cars, ban bikes (electric or not), ban trains, ban planes, and ban buses if we wanted to end all transportation deaths. We’d have to ban leaving your house and put everyone into a pod where they experience life through VR and a robot like the movie Surrogates. Getting rid of all risk to human life would otherwise lead to a complete end to the economy, and we’d all starve to death (which would obviously cost lives). And fun? There’s no room for fun in Super Safety World.

So, everything comes with risks that must be traded off against each other, as well as practical, legal, moral, and human considerations. Banning all e-bikes would probably save a few lives, but then cost many more lives in the form of more car accidents, accelerated climate change, obesity, and many other things. So, the “if it saves one life” argument is mostly short-sighted on this issue.

But, the media isn’t afraid to start out by making us value the one life by describing how great she was (and I’m sure she was!) and telling us about how this was a unanimous decision. So, the media gets in on it, too, emotionally manipulating us right off the bat by making us think about the value of that one life and the democratic nature of the decision (it gets worse in a bit). When we see that kind of thing, we always need to do as Mike recommends and hit pause to think.

Another thing he points out, while looking at news footage of kids on e-bikes, is that there’s wildly inadequate bicycle infrastructure that has forced riders onto the sidewalks. Would the death have happened if there was better infrastructure? Probably not, or the chances are at least a lot lower. Does the media want to talk about that? Does the city council? Nope. The blame all goes on the bikes.

One of the next shots shows the place where the tragedy occurred. There were two stop signs (someone had to run one) and there are no sidewalks. Again, infrastructure! Also, there are tons of golf carts, as this is Florida. Do golf carts get demonized? Of course not. So, there’s an element of ageism at play here, against younger people.

But, what happens when cyclists try to talk any kind of reason to the emotional “ban everything” mob? Well, the unanimous democracy isn’t as nice as it looks at the beginning of the newscast. Anyone who doesn’t join the mob gets booed. The police are already walking up to remove people who won’t go with the flow on this, and when a woman mentions that the deceased was riding a bike herself without a helmet, police drag her out.

Nobody should be removed from speaking with public officials for bringing up a fact, but that’s what the mob was ready to do that day. When we forget that protections for the minority are as important as the rule of the majority, we go off the rails and cease to have a free society that makes rational decisions and looks out for the best interest of its members. We’ve seen Florida do this over and over on other issues.

More fear of e-bikes gets poured on, with speed being raised as a factor. But people on road bikes can get up to those speeds and sometimes ride dangerously. When we rush to make decisions based on fears and fallacies, we forget to think about the full implications. Fortunately, the emergency ordinance can only be used for 60 days, and a more thorough process must be gone through to get a permanent ban.

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He also points out that the ban will probably be under pressure to spread. A county-run road is likely not going to be subject to the ban, so city officials will probably go on and demand that the county follows them into this knee-jerk reaction, which would then lead to other cities and counties looking at their own bans. So, this kind of idiotic emotional thinking can be contagious.

Another news station does the same thing, but worse, starting with images of people crying, holding candles, and otherwise participating in a “moving memorial” and then discussing the relief the ban brought to the people who are super sad. This one didn’t show the removal of a dissenting speaker, instead spending more time showing sad people.

They also mention that the mayor wants to make the ban permanent (something the other news story didn’t delve int0). Some woman living in a gated community claims that with the ban, it was the first time she had ever felt safe walking!

Final Thoughts

I hate to say it, but this is why people on the conservative side often express disdain for the media*. Reporting malpractice like this, where one side is given the shaft and we all get emotionally manipulated, is sadly the norm in the United States and in many other countries. Media outlets that ask the audience to think don’t get popular because people are lazy, and they want to be told what to think. This, in turn, is a failure in parenting and the school system that’s all too common.

If we can’t get the media, public officials, and the population at large to be better at thinking and stopping to take a breath when something bad happens, we’re doomed to the lowest common denominator of fear and emotion instead of rational decision-making.

Featured image by Jennifer Sensiba.

*Editor’s note: Many progressives also complain and criticize conventional media for this kind of thing — all the time.

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Jennifer Sensiba

Jennifer Sensiba is a long time efficient vehicle enthusiast, writer, and photographer. She grew up around a transmission shop, and has been experimenting with vehicle efficiency since she was 16 and drove a Pontiac Fiero. She likes to get off the beaten path in her "Bolt EAV" and any other EVs she can get behind the wheel or handlebars of with her wife and kids. You can find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and YouTube here.

Jennifer Sensiba has 1983 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Sensiba