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Old 02-21-12, 12:30 PM   #1
Sangesf
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This is a letter I had to send to the Chief of Police in a town nearby me.

Quote:
Dear Chief Of Police

This is the first time, I've ever had the desire or need to write correspondence to a police department over an interaction with an officer.*
**Let me start off by saying, that I waited a day before sending this correspondence as I was incredibly upset (yesterday) and did not want to taint this complaint with too much emotion..

My main form of transportation is an electric bicycle. *It is a Schwinn Stingray OCC Chopper Electric Bicycle. (Stock photo (1) and a photo of my specific bicycle (2) enclosed at the end of this email, for your reference). It has pedals to allow me to pedal/propel the bicycle, as well as, an electric helper motor, which is not capable of propelling my bicycle faster than 20 miles per hour.*

On Saturday evening approximately 6:15pm, I was traveling northbound on my electric bicycle (either in the bicycle lane or as far right as *practicable, on the road {when there sometimes isn't a bike lane**), when I was pulled over by Officer
.*
** At the very start of the "conversation", the officer was extremely confrontational. I put conversation in quotes, as it was not a conversation, per se, but the officer telling me that I was not allowed to explain myself and that I was wrong about everything I tried to explain to him*
*The first thing he told me was that I was riding a "motor vehicle". I had tried to explain to Ofc. that my vehicle was an electric bicycle, but he kept interrupting me and not allowing me to explain the legality of my electric bicycle.*

He kept (very rudely) asking if my bicycle had a motor on it. I kept answering, "Yes, it has an Electric motor, on it".*

I kept trying to explain to him that an electric bicycle, according to the Florida State statutes, is exempt from the "motor" vehicle laws as it is still considered an ordinary bicycle.*

He then continues (again) to tell me,
"If it has a motor on it, of any kind, it is considered a "motor" vehicle."*
I even tried to state to him the Florida State staute information.. I said, "It's covered under Statute 316.003 [2] and recited it for the officer. (paraphrased really, as I didn't know it Verbatim)..

I told Ofc., that I would like him to look up the statute that I just tried to explain to him, and he told me, "I don't have to look it up because, I KNOW if a bicycle has ANY kind of motor on it, it is considered a "motor" vehicle."

** During this whole "conversation", Ofc. kept saying, "'We' were not going to 'have this argument'".. I tried to explain to him that this was NOT an "argument", nor was I going to "argue" about it. I was just TRYING to explain the facts about "electric bicycle laws" here in Florida and how it pertains to my bicycle.*

**He then tells me to get off my bicycle (for what reason I don't know) and stand in front of his police car.*
**He then says to me, "IF I were to pat you down, would I find any weapons or drugs?" (for what reason would he need to pat me down? - He didn't, but it seemed odd to me, that he had to make that kind of statement, specifically with the emphasis on "IF")*
I stated, "No, I don't have any drugs or weapons". *He then (again) asked me if I had anything on me, that HE would consider a "weapon".*
I told him, "No". He then asks me if I have a pen on me and I answered, "yes". He then tells me that HE considers a pen, a "weapon"! (Huh?!?)

Ofc. takes my Florida ID and does his check, finds nothing wrong and then he tells me, he doesn't want me to ride my bicycle in towh, anymore, as it would require registration and a valid Driver's license.*

**As he hands me back my ID, he says, "I'm going to pull over that guy over there {he points somewhere** on his motorized wheelchair (Jokingly, I supposed) and I won't watch you pull away."*
I kind of figured he was joking with me, so I said, "You don't mind if I ride my bicycle home?".*
Ofc. (again, with complete rudeness and the unwarranted sternness as he continued with throughout this entire traffic stop) says, "I JUST told you, I wasn't going to watch you pull away" (Supposedly) meaning that he was "doing me a favor" and not writing me any tickets or summons and "letting me go"..

** It was an extremely uncomfortable situation, as there was absolutely no need for the completely unprofessional and confrontational manner that Ofc. displayed throughout this entire encounter with me. *(I even tried to "lighten up" his mood, by being extremely polite.)
**After the encounter, I realized, that I had not gotten the officer's name, at that time. *

**Later that evening, (while pedaling *(northbound again) back home on my bicycle, on the sidewalk, as to not exacerbate any situation while still traveling within town) I saw Ofc. on another stop (he had someone else pulled over on the same (east) side of the sidewalk as me).*
I stopped and very politely said, "I'm really sorry to bother you, but do you have a business card?" (as I wanted his information for this complaint..(Not that I told him that))
He pulled one out and very glibly said, "Here ya go! You have 'fun' with that!"
**In my opinion, Apparently Ofc. believes that being completely unprofessional and rude is acceptible behavior for a Police Officer.

I have enclosed a link and a copy of the State Statute 316.003[2] (for your reference) below.*

http://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2011/316.003

*****(2) BICYCLE.—Every vehicle propelled solely by human power, and every motorized bicycle propelled by a combination of human power and an electric helper motor capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed of not more than 20 miles per hour on level ground upon which any person may ride, having two tandem wheels, and including any device generally recognized as a bicycle though equipped with two front or two rear wheels....****

As well as, a copy of an official FLDMV/HSMV (3) document (sent to me) stating that an electric bicycle is exempt from registration and drivers licensing requirements. *(Reference PDF is at end of this correspondence)


I have also included a copy of the basic bicycle laws (from the Florida State Safety office, written by Lora Hollingsworth, P.E., Chief Safety Officer)

http://www.dot.state.fl.us/safety/pe...bikeLaws1.shtm

** I would like to formally request that you please inform all of the officers, under your command, of the current statute regarding electric bicycles and how electric bicycles are NOT considered "motor" vehicles, nor any of the requirements that go along with that.*

** At your earliest convenience, please return receipt of this correspondence with your recommendations and/or comments by either email and/or phone as I would like to be able to ride my bicycle through Town without the worry that I will be pulled over again and/or harassed.*

I look forward to your response.*

Sincerely,*
Sangesf


Reference Materials...

1.) Link to the Schwinn Bicycle website...

http://web.archive.org/web/200606141...-electric.html

B.) Stock photo of The Schwinn Stingray OCC electric bicycle...


(Note: the "engine" in the middle is actually a plastic battery compartment, which I do not have on my bicycle as shown in the actual photo of my bicycle..)

2.) Here is a picture of my bicycle (in it's current condition)



(Note: For my own safety at night and compliance with state statutes, not only do I have a bright White 55w Halogen front light and a rear 35w Red light, but I also have installed (front and rear) amber colored blinkers (for use when a hand signal might not be seen at night), a brake light (that comes on when I hit the brakes), a car horn, a 12v power receptacle and various other items. The box in the back of the bicycle holds, among other items, battery for the motor, 12v tire pump, 12v battery for my accessories, battery charger, and rear tail/brake light and rear directionals).*

3.) Official correspondence from the DMV sent to me / dated June, 2011.*

What do you guys think the response will be?
(And no, the officer wasn't having a "bad day" as I talked with a few people that work in that town and says he's a real jerk.)

Last edited by Sangesf; 02-27-12 at 07:07 PM.
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Old 02-21-12, 12:53 PM   #2
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Carry a printed copy of the statute with you to show police. Might help, might not.
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Old 02-21-12, 03:56 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by SRALPH View Post
Carry a printed copy of the statute with you to show police. Might help, might not.
Call me cynical, but I'm guessing that if it's the sort of officer who thinks he knows every nuance of the law, it's more than likely to get you slapped with a disorderly conduct charge.
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Old 02-22-12, 11:49 AM   #4
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He doesn't care about the law, he is there to enforce his rules. Some of these aholes have badges.
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Old 02-22-12, 04:16 PM   #5
Sangesf
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Here is the response I received from the officers direct commander in charge..
(Not the Chief of Police), but I'll take what I can get.

Quote:
*******Sangesf,
*
This is Sgt. with the Police Dept. *I am in receipt of your letter to the Chief about your recent encounter on a traffic stop with Ofc. *I appreciate the reference material you have provided and will re-educate my officers on the Statutes pertaining to electric powered bicycles. *I understand you were frustrated and inconvenienced, and I apologize that you feel you have had a negative experience with the Police Dept. however, I have spoken to the officer in this matter and any issues have been resolved. *I assure you, that all Police Officers are trained professionals and that any officer you meet will act with professionalism in accordance with their duties.
*
In addition I apologize for the informality of an email but there was no telephone number listed on your letter or I would have contacted you by phone. *Should you have any concerns in the future please feel free to contact the Police Dept. *************
(There was a phone number, but no biggie).*

I also called the Sgt and spoke with him for about 15 mins explaining why I sent the letter and he was very apologetic (as best can be done by a police officer, so I applaud him for that) for the way I was treated.*
(And yes, as everyone guessed, (and in my opinion, was inferred, by the Sgt) that when I "corrected" the original officer, he didn't like it and that's when he started with the confrontational attitude..)
I was assured that during their next roll call, a memo regarding electric bicycles will be brought up..

So.. I'm happy so far..



*
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Old 02-22-12, 05:48 PM   #6
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Good for you!
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Old 02-27-12, 01:31 PM   #7
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I'm kinda surprised by the good response you got. IMO we've got too much police in this country. Crime has gone down dramatically since the 70s but the cop force hasn't. Too many ex jocks that should be working in a factory instead of interacting with the populace.
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Old 02-27-12, 05:23 PM   #8
Sangesf
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And I thought the response was a bit lackluster...
BUT.. After discussing it with a bunch of people, I understand that if the responding Sgt. had admitted any real wrong doing by his officer, that he would open himself (and the officer in question) to possible legal action as that would be an admission of guilt, per se...

I DO have up to 45 days after the "incident" to file a formal complaint via a form downloadable from the town's website. (I do have it downloaded AND filled out, JUST in case I have any other "issues" while riding through that town.)
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Old 02-27-12, 05:25 PM   #9
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I now have....

1.) A printout of the statute.

2.) A letter from the DMV
(Addressed to me also stating an electric bicycle does NOT need registration or a license)

and
3.) A copy of the response from the Sgt.

I carry all of these with me now, so there is no confusion with any other jurisdiction...

Last edited by Sangesf; 02-27-12 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 02-27-12, 06:37 PM   #10
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Wink

& if all those letters dont work, have a crisp $ 100.00 bill ready for a Eheeem "donation" to the local PBA
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Old 02-29-12, 03:30 PM   #11
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Bravo!, good job OP

This is a good reminder for me

I should brush up on my local bylaws regarding e-Bikes and make sure they are highlighted in the even i come across an unfortunate event like you did

the only thing i remember is no faster than 30 Km/h on bike paths, no electric scooter types of ebikes, lights & bells must be installed and functional if biking at dawn or night, helmets, and other important stuff like that, but i never remember those subsections such and such of line such and such.
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Old 03-02-12, 12:34 PM   #12
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You poked a hole in the tissue-thin skin around the policeman's massive ego. I had heard on other cyclists discussions that cyclists should not try to tell cops they know more about the law than they do. Not because you don't have the right to, but because they have aluminum clubs.
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Old 03-07-12, 08:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sangesf View Post
I now have....

1.) A printout of the statute.

2.) A letter from the DMV
(Addressed to me also stating an electric bicycle does NOT need registration or a license)

and
3.) A copy of the response from the Sgt.

I carry all of these with me now, so there is no confusion with any other jurisdiction...
Sangesf, would you post links to the documents you mentioned or even better post the pdf versions here. I live in Florida and will be using my ebike kit once it has been shipped and installed. I'd also like to carry the same documents.

Thank you.
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Old 03-08-12, 04:48 AM   #14
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1.) The statute is Chapter 316.003 (2). You can just go to the Florida state website and look up the statutes from the main page... (It's under "Title XXIII - Motor Vehicles")

2.) email me at sangesf@aol.com and I'll send you a copy of the DMV letter (in PDF form - with my Name/Address removed)..

3.) The letter from the Sargent isn't going to help you unless you live or ride through that town..
(It's in Palm Beach County)

Also mind you, that my bicycle is INCAPABLE of speeds greater than 20mph and can be proven as such, at the whim of any police officer... If your's IS CAPABLE of speeds greater than 20mph ("capable" is the operative word.. That doesn't mean, you're just riding it slower than 20), then it's NOT considered a regular bicycle and none of the items above will help you.
(i.e. If you're running anything higher than 36v 500w (36v-15a controller), then unless you limit it somehow, you're not gonna be legal..)
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Old 03-08-12, 12:12 PM   #15
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Yeah, mine will have a greater top speed with the 48v 1000w hub motor. The kit is advertised as being able to hit 34 mph. I was thinking of getting the cycle analyst from http://www.ebikes.ca/ which has the capability to control the output of the motor. Ebikes.ca looks to have EVERYTHING a ebiker could want. I'm not affiliated with them but came across their website yesterday. Looks like they've been around since the beginning...of electricity.

I have been looking at the Florida statutes concerning motor vehicles. Here's a good website http://www.electricvehiclemall.com/s...ws.htm#Florida
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Old 03-16-12, 10:55 PM   #16
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That's harsh. I get pulled over occasionally by the cops when riding on mine. Most of the time they just want to ask me about the bike. I seem to be one of the only ones in this area code that have one. One time I got pulled over by two cops. As one searched my backpack and patted me down, the other had his hand on his gun. What I found out was that there was someone robbing houses in the area I was riding past. Personally, I think they went a bit far for one guy on a bike.

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Old 03-27-12, 10:56 AM   #17
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..

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Old 03-31-12, 07:51 AM   #18
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That officer will get talked-to by his supervisor, and educated about the bicycle laws.

I think he KNEW you were right, once you started citing statutes, but he did not want to lose face, so he kept up the illusion of "I'm never wrong, because I'm a COP."

He did let you go, even though he hassled and tried to intimidate you.

Bottom line, he's just an a-hole. Stereotypical "above the law" cop though.
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Old 04-24-12, 06:15 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sangesf View Post

my bicycle is INCAPABLE of speeds greater than 20mph and can be proven as such, at the whim of any police officer... If your's IS CAPABLE of speeds greater than 20mph ("capable" is the operative word.. That doesn't mean, you're just riding it slower than 20), then it's NOT considered a regular bicycle and none of the items above will help you.
I'm not in Florida, so I haven't taken the time to read the statute, but I HOPE it's written to clearly state the motor isn't capable of propelling the bicycle over 20mph. I'm pretty sure ALL of my bikes, electric or not, are capable of more than 20mph. I'm positive I've gone faster on my road bike than on my cruiser with the electric motor. But the cruiser has still seen speeds over 20mph, which the motor by it's self wouldn't be capable of.
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Old 04-24-12, 06:44 AM   #20
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The requirement for ebikes is that they not be ASSISTED BY THE MOTOR above 20MPH. All laws I have seen are written this way and I hope it is clear to all involved both what this means and what it doesn't mean...
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Old 04-24-12, 07:01 AM   #21
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that sounded like arguing with my Dad back in the day. "Even if I'm wrong I right!"
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Old 04-25-12, 12:10 AM   #22
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There's such a thing called a cycle analyst that will limit your speed to 20mph, or whatever your state's limit is, if you need too..
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Old 04-25-12, 12:30 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NightShift View Post
I'm not in Florida, so I haven't taken the time to read the statute, but I HOPE it's written to clearly state the motor isn't capable of propelling the bicycle over 20mph. I'm pretty sure ALL of my bikes, electric or not, are capable of more than 20mph. I'm positive I've gone faster on my road bike than on my cruiser with the electric motor. But the cruiser has still seen speeds over 20mph, which the motor by it's self wouldn't be capable of.
Just an FYI....

In Nevada, where I just moved from. It's pretty much the same as in Florida, so if your e bikes are capable of over 20mph, there not ebikes anymore, they're considered mopeds..
If it's a moped, you need all the stuff that mopeds are required to have...
Headlights, taillights, brake lights, DOT approved tires, etc and would ALSO require a motorcycle endorsement on your license as well IF you can go more than 30mph... Otherwise, all you need is a regular license.

The ONLY way an ebike would not be capable of speeds over 20 mph is if it's only 24v.. Most 36v bikes (Unless they're specifically limited), can very easily be capable of greater than 20mph speeds..

I have a 36v 15amp ebike that can do 21 mph and I use very heavy SLA batteries on a very heavy beach cruiser... I had to buy a cycle analyst to limit it's speed to keep it legal.

Last edited by SpecialX; 04-30-12 at 06:25 AM.
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Old 04-25-12, 06:18 AM   #24
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To repeat again, it is perfectly alright for ebikes to go over 20MPH. Be very careful with your wording. What an ebike cannot do is provide motive assistance above 20MPH. There is a big difference between the two.
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Old 04-25-12, 11:01 PM   #25
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Just an FYI....

In Nevada, where I just moved from. It's pretty much the same as in Florida, so if your e bikes are capable of over 20mph, there not ebikes anymore, they're considered mopeds..
If it's a moped, you need all the stuff that mopeds are required to have...
Headlights, taillights, brake lights, DOT approved tires, etc and would require a motorcycle endorsement on your license as well.

The ONLY way an ebike would not be capable of 20 mph is if it's only 24v.. Most 36v bikes (Unless they're specifically limited), can very easily be capable of greater than 20mph speeds..

I have a 36v 15amp ebike that can do 21 mph and I use very heavy SLA batteries on a very heavy beach cruiser... I had to buy a cycle analyst to limit it's speed to keep it legal.
Actually, last time I checked, mopeds, motor scooters, and motorized bicycles with less than 80cc displacement or equivalent do not require license or registration in Nevada. It's a very DUI friendly state.
They are supposedly prohibited from using bike lanes, but the cops certainly don't seem to care about that when it's a scooter running me off the path.

And if it's a matter of providing assistance about a given speed, and not how much assistance, then it would seem like a cycle analysis (or equivalent) would always be required.
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