Tweaks Ahead For OC  Hoverboard Ban

OCEAN CITY — With one major holiday weekend in the books, it appears the resort’s ban on hoverboards on the Boardwalk approved this winter does not go far enough, forcing town officials to revisit the definition of the devices in the code.

In January, after months of debate, the Mayor and Council voted unanimously to prohibit hoverboards and other unauthorized motor vehicles on the Boardwalk. After hoverboards started having an increased presence on the Boardwalk last summer, the Police Commission this offseason began a debate on how best to define and regulate them in terms of other vehicles already permitted.

The Mayor and Council voted in January to ban the devices on the Boardwalk, but it now appears a loophole in the definition could make enforcement of the new ordinance difficult. Councilman and Police Commission Chair Doug Cymek said this week, despite the ordinance, hoverboards were still making their presence felt over the holiday weekend.

“It was brought to my attention we could be bracing for an onslaught of hoverboards on the Boardwalk,” he said. “I know we approved the ban, but where in the code are hoverboards clearly defined?”

The State of Maryland defines hoverboards essentially the same as Segways as an electric personal assistive mobility device, or EPAMD, with two non-tandem wheels, self-balancing, and powered by an electric propulsion system with a maximum speed of 15 mph. When city officials crafted its ordinance this winter, it borrowed loosely from the state’s definition, which has created some confusion with regards to hoverboards.

City Solicitor Guy Ayres said on Tuesday the definition in the code might need to be tweaked to clearly define the intent of the ordinance governing hoverboards.

“What we commonly call a Segway is in the code,” he said. “Technically, a hoverboard falls within the same definition. As it stands now, some of things could be permissible in the strict interpretation of the code. I think we need to amend the definition to include these types of devices that hoverboards are and keep them off the Boardwalk.”

The council instructed Ayres to draft an amended ordinance and bring it before them next week. Meanwhile, Cymek said the larger issue of vehicles on the Boardwalk might have to be explored next offseason.

“I think the Police Commission has to take a long, hard look at allowing any motorized vehicles on the Boardwalk,” he said. “With the pedestrians, the tram and the street performers, there is already a lot going on up there without having these things buzzing around.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.