OCEAN CITY – With an increase of motorized rentals on the Boardwalk, city officials have decided to place a freeze on issuing such rental licenses for the time being until town regulations are examined.
The topic of hoverboard rentals on the Boardwalk was brought before the Mayor and City Council on Monday evening following the Police Commission’s discussion last week.
“It was brought to the Police Commission’s attention of hoverboards being rented on the Boardwalk. There is a lot of concern over the riders of this new device using them in a reckless manner and possibly imposing a safety issue from a pedestrian’s standpoint. We are going to discuss this further and come back and make some recommendations,” Commission Chair Councilman Doug Cymek said.
What is being referred to as a hoverboard is produced by multiple manufacturers. One of those manufacturers is Monorover, which describes the device as “a Segway without the bulk … features gyroscopic technology, the same as found in Segway. Two sensors (one under each foot pad) detect the micro-movements in your feet and ankles, and relay that information to the motors. Just point your toes down to go forward, and put your weight into your heels to go backwards. The sensors are incredibly active, and within minutes of roving, it begins to feel intuitive.”
According to Cymek, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) Lt. Mark Pacini spoke with the business renting the hoverboards. The renters are being told the hoverboards can operate on the Boardwalk with no time restrictions at a rate of $35 per hour.
The State of Maryland defines hoverboards the same as a Segway in being an Electronic Personal Assistive Mobility Device (EPAMD), which is having two non-tandem wheels, self-balancing, powered by an electric propulsion system, has a maximum speed capability of 15 mph, and is designed to transport one person.
The Town of Ocean City’s law regulates EPAMDs in the same category as bicycles and pushcarts, which can allowed on the Boardwalk from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, between 2 a.m. and 11 a.m., and from the day after Labor Day to the start of Memorial Day weekend at any time except for during the times of Springfest and Sunfest.
The code furthers, “it shall be unlawful for any nongovernmental motor vehicle, motor-assisted vehicle, bicycle, pushcart, or EPAMDs to be operated on the Boardwalk at any time without permission of the Mayor and City Council or its designated agent except during the time set forth in the code.”
The Police Commission was in consensus the town needs to ensure that hoverboard users and rental businesses come into compliance with existing regulations. The commission said last week it would continue to monitor the use of these devices to determine if further measures are warranted to ensure public safety.
“We have concerns,” Police Chief Ross Buzzuro said this week before the Mayor and City Council, pointing out the rentals have now expanded to a motorized unicycle.
“With the amount of bicycles on the Boardwalk in all shapes and sizes, and it has gone from bikes to Segway’s to hoverboards to now unicycles, the list goes on and on,” the chief said. “By nature the hoverboard just doesn’t go back and forth or sideways so to speak, so that poses some problems just with the amount of traffic that is on the Boardwalk around this time of year. With that being said, bicycles are able to be ridden from 2 a.m. to 11 a.m., so if there was a narrow window similar to bikes for hoverboards that would be more permissible but we need to be cautious in having them out there at any given time.”
According to Mayor Rick Meehan, since the Police Commission’s discussion last week, it has been discovered the businesses on the Boardwalk renting out the hoverboards are operating without the appropriate license, and they have been asked to cease renting the devices.
“With that in mind … and now there is a proliferation of unicycles … I would like the council to consider putting a moratorium on rental licenses for the hoverboards, and I would also like the Police Commission to look at all motorized vehicles/apparatuses this fall and come back with a recommendation to the council,” Council Secretary Mary Knight said.
Knight made a motion to place a moratorium on the town issuing rental licenses for all motorized vehicles on the Boardwalk, and the council voted unanimously to approve.