Ocean City was smart to take swift action to prevent dockless bike and electronic scooter operations from becoming a reality.
With the resort’s massive seasonal surge in population, the majority of which consists of folks who at times are oblivious to common traffic rules and societal norms, these sorts of community share programs have no place in Ocean City.
Although there is nothing of the sort in the pipeline as there have been no applications or intentions made with City Hall, it was wise of the city to be progressive and get an ordinance on the books ensuring they will not be allowed by law to fruition. These dockless share concepts have been popular around the world for years, but they are not right for all communities.
In many metropolitan areas as well as beach destinations, private companies have essentially sprouted up with hundreds of bicycles and electronic scooters. With these operations, the user can pay a fee at a convenient hub or through a phone app for a bike or scooter to move around the respective cities. When users reach their destination, they simply leave them near another hub or ditch in common areas. The companies will then routinely circulate throughout their respective areas returning these bikes and scooters to the for-pay hubs or other high-volume sites.
There are many problems with these operations, but in Ocean City’s case it comes down to public safety and visual blight.
The public safety risk with these electronic scooters is extreme in Ocean City. In municipalities elsewhere, these scooters are used on sidewalks as well as roads. The users often travel at high rates of speed without helmets. Many accidents have taken place where these are available. Ocean City’s vehicular and pedestrian congestion makes these incredibly dangerous potentially.
Additionally, and of lesser importance, is the fact the bikes and scooters will simply be left wherever the user wants. This can be seen in cities all over the country. These bikes and scooters are simply rented and then disposed of with little care or concern for surroundings. They remain there until the companies round them out and return them to common areas.
These companies provide a valuable service in some areas where vehicular transportation and parking demand concerns arise. While Ocean City may have associated issues a few months of the year, leaders were right to ensure these bike and scooter share concepts do not come to the municipality. They are not the answer.