Resort looks for proactive solution to limit businesses that offer ride share programs
(June 7, 2019) Hoping to stay ahead of emerging technology, the Ocean City Council agreed Monday to ban dockless bicycle and electric scooter ride share programs from the resort.
Investigating potential regulations for dockless bicycles and electric scooters, which have created unwelcome clutter on streets in cities across the U.S. and worldwide, was broached by Mayor Rick Meehan during a Police Commission meeting in March.
At that time, Meehan noted the Baltimore area has become inundated with stacks of bicycles randomly discarded by short-term users.
The amendment to the city’s traffic regulation ordinance was passed on second reading, and prohibits dockless bikes or scooters from being left in a public right of way or on public property and stipulates violations are subject to a $500 fine per occurrence.
Exempted from the regulations are motorcycles, mopeds, “electric personal assistive mobility devices” (electric wheelchairs and scooters) and bicycles used as a shareable dockless mobility device.
Councilman Matt James said the ordinance amendment couldn’t come soon enough.
“I just want to make you guys aware they’re already here,” he said. “I’ve seen a few of them out.”
City Manager Doug Miller said the update he ordinance update the new regulations can be enforced by the town.
City Attorney Heather Stansbury, while uncertain of the extent that dockless ride share programs have inundated the resort, concurred with Miller’s sentiment.
“Certainly we can prohibit them from being here, that’s what the ordinance sought to do,” she said.
Meehan also noted the ride share companies would be unable to obtain a business license from the town as no such category exists.
James said the rides are typically discarded at random.
“They’re just sitting on sidewalks,” he said. “People bring them into town, they use them, then they just kind of dump them wherever they want.”
James said the ride share business model generally involves hiring independent contractors to retrieve bikes or scooters, which are then charged at their residence and returned to the streets.
Meehan said that eventuality is precisely why the ban was discussed earlier this year.
Councilman Mark Paddack expressed concern the ordinance revision does not address private ownership of dockless bikes or scooters.
“I’ve seen two and … people riding on them,” he said. “My first thought was they were stolen from another jurisdiction, put in a car and brought down here.”
Stansbury said any businesses currently operating ride share programs within the resort will be contacted and informed about the revised legalities.
“It’s definitely something my office is working with the city managers’ office to look into where their origin is and how we tie them back,” she said. “If we have to we can impound them.”