Segways Staying On Downtown Block

OCEAN CITY – One kiosk will remain on Somerset Street this summer despite earlier decisions by the Mayor and City Council to remove all merchant carts from the street.

Kyle Swisher, owner of EC Glider Segway Rentals came before the Mayor and Council asking for permission to remain on Somerset Street this summer, despite decisions made this fall to remove all kiosks and merchant carts from the street.

Merchant carts were placed on Somerset Street last summer in an attempt to bring more foot traffic down the street.

“I think that you were successful in doing some of that, but it was also somewhat controversial,” said Swisher.

The carts proved to be more troublesome than beneficial with many Somerset Street shop owners voicing complaints that the carts were selling similar merchandise and in affect worsening business along the street. After receiving a recommendation from the Ocean City Development Corporation to remove the merchant carts from the street, the Mayor and Council voted to end the kiosk program.

Swisher explained that while the carts were controversial, his business ran only during the morning hours, causing no interference to shops on the street.

“While the other kiosks that opened later in the day created controversy on the plaza among existing merchants, we continued to enjoy strong, positive relationships and we continue to be welcome by all parties involved, with the exception of one well known malcontent,” said Swisher in a letter to the Mayor and Council.

According to Swisher, his Segway rentals occur essentially during “bike hours”. He explained that the kiosk is set up around 6:30 am and is packed up by 10:30 am, usually before any of the stores are open.

“We worked closely and in good faith with the city and its myriad of departments to enact a model for Segway rental laws and have abided by those laws to the letter,” Swisher said.

Swisher added that his kiosk is a small display that does not remain on the street for the entirety of the day.

“The machines themselves are primarily our display,” he said.

Councilman Jim Hall supported Swisher.

“I think this is a reasonable request, its basically a bike rental, they’re out by 10:30,” said Hall, pointing out that they have received no complaints regarding the business.

Hall suggested that EC Glider be given a one-year extension, adding that the issue would be reviewed next year. The council voted unanimously to approve the request.