OC To Monitor Potential Dockless Bike, Scooper Operations

OCEAN CITY – Despite its growing presence in cities across the nation, a resort committee this week took no action to set regulations for dockless bike and scooter rentals.

On Monday, the Ocean City Police Commission initiated a conversation on the growing popularity of dockless bike and scooter rentals.

As the name suggests, dockless bike and scooter programs allow users to rent freestanding bikes or scooters using an app on their phone.

Councilman Dennis Dare, chair of the commission, said he’d been following reports of similar operations around the country and wanted the town to be prepared should a dockless bike or scooter program come to Ocean City.

“If there is something missing there, or a question, we can go forward with a solution …,” he said. “There may be something we want the city manager to work on.”

Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro told the commission many dockless bike and scooter operations were designed for large cities with a year-round population.

“The good news is we don’t meet that ideal requirement,” he said.

Buzzuro noted, however, that the businesses came with major concerns.

“Our concern with the dockless bikes is once someone is finished with that bike they can drop the bike anywhere …,” he said. “The biggest issue with this in large cities is the proliferation of these bicycles that are being dumped everywhere. I think moving forward, if we have an issue that will come our way, we would want to get on top of it.”

Mayor Rick Meehan told the commission dockless bike and scooter rentals would require a business license to operate in Ocean City.

“They have to go through a licensing process and that license can be defined,” he said.

Buzzuro added that other cities across the country have placed strict requirements on such business licenses.

“It is very defined and really strict,” he said.

Councilman Wayne Hartman questioned how the town would differentiate the different types of bike rental companies that apply for business licenses.

“If somebody came for a bike rental license, how would we differentiate the current bike rental license from that?” he said.

Buzzuro told Hartman bike rental operations that apply for a business license must have fixed rental locations.

“The bike rentals we have now conduct business on private property,” Dare added. “What we are saying is these businesses conduct it on public property.”

Hartman said he doubted dockless bike and scooter companies would establish a location in Ocean City, but said the town could take measures to prepare for such operations.

“We give a license for a bike rental business, but does not describe as to where the business takes place and how it’s conducted …,” he said. “It’s a simple fix. We create another entity under license, dockless and the typical (rental business) we know now. It would be a three-second fix.”

Council Secretary Mary Knight said she could foresee future dockless bike and scooter operations in town.

“I can see the perfect opportunity for it here with our international students …,” she said.

City Manager Doug Miller noted that dockless scooter vendors have contacted the town.

“I’ve received calls from vendors or companies from the west coast for motorized scooters,” he said.

Despite the lengthy conversation, the commission made no motion to take action on the matter, and instead, decided to remain vigilant of any prospective dockless bike and scooter operations.

“We’ll monitor it,” Miller said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.