(Oct. 9, 2020) Opinions were split Monday night, as the Ocean City Council barely passed on first reading the ban of electric bicycles on the Boardwalk.
“I going to ask that we rethink this again,” Councilman John Gehrig said. “We already have e-bikes on the Boardwalk and the police chief … basically stated there were no incidents, any challenges, any reckless behavior whatsoever.”
Gehrig said rather than passing the ordinance, the city should continue to observe the Boardwalk and see if any challenges arise, which could then be quickly addressed.
“All people should be able to enjoy our Boardwalk, [and] some people need assistance,” Gehrig said. “To take that away out of fear and speculation of something that has never happened yet but we’re afraid could happen in the future — there’s [not] any judge that would make a decision that way.”
Councilman Mark Paddack agreed and said the pedal-assisted bicycles retail anywhere from $700 to $2,000, making it unlikely for anyone inexperienced or, perhaps, less mature from riding it.
“The people that I saw this weekend on them were all older people … and they were riding them properly,” Paddack said.
He also compared the situation to gun ownership, saying behavior mattered more than the tool.
Councilman Tony DeLuca, however, said one major issue remained: police cannot differentiate between class one and class three bicycles, both of which do not have throttles, but can achieve different maximum speeds.
DeLuca, who is the council liaison to the Ocean City Bike Committee, had originally favored allowing class one electric bicycles on the Boardwalk.
Nevertheless, after a test trial and push from the police department to not allow it, he changed his mind.
“Why would we put our police officers, our public safety aides, our reserves in a position where they can’t tell the difference?” DeLuca asked.
The vote passed four to three, with Paddack, Gehrig and James opposed.