OCEAN CITY — As expected, resort officials this week passed an emergency ordinance banning hoverboards on the Boardwalk after tweaking the definition of the devices in the town 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 in January voted to ban the devices on the Boardwalk, but a loophole in the broader definition of Electronic Personal Assistive Mobility Devices, or EPAMDs, made enforcement difficult. The state of Maryland defines hoverboards essentially the same as Segways or EPAMDs, 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 created some confusion with regards to hoverboards.
After a busy Memorial Day weekend that saw hoverboards making their presence felt on the Boardwalk, town officials instructed City Solicitor Guy Ayres to review the existing definition in the code and make the appropriate changes to affect a ban of the devices on the Boardwalk. On Monday, the Mayor and Council approved the language changes in the code, effectively banning hoverboards on the Boardwalk.
The ordinance was approved as emergency legislation, meaning it went into effect immediately after it was signed by Mayor Rick Meehan on Tuesday. Meehan was not in attendance at the meeting on Monday or the hoverboard ban would have gone into effect immediately. Ayres clarified the ban is in effect all year-round and does not follow the same seasonal schedule as bicycles, for example. While he was absent on Monday, Meehan sent a letter of support to the council.
“This ordinance changes the definition of EPAMD to exclude hoverboards, thereby prohibiting hoverboard use on the Boardwalk,” the letter reads. “It also makes it unlawful to operate any device on the Boardwalk unless expressly permitted in the current code. This legislation is necessary due to the density of pedestrian traffic on the Boardwalk and the safety hazards associated with new products such as hoverboards.”