The Dukes County Commission unanimously approved supporting “the concept of filing legislation for an Islandwide ban on mopeds and scooters” on Wednesday, confirming that there is legislation currently being drafted that would enact an Islandwide ban on moped rentals. Although not yet filed, the assumption is that the legislation that has been filed for the Oak Bluffs moped ban act (H4322) “will serve as a template” for the proposed Islandwide ban, county manager Martina Thornton said.
The proposed rental ban in Oak Bluffs was debated on Beacon Hill on Tuesday, April 5.
Although in support of moving forward with the Islandwide moped and scooter ban, commissioner Tristan Israel noted that considering recent transparency issues, he hopes “people on the Island get to see what this proposed legislation is prior to it being filed.”
Electric bicycles may be next on the chopping block, as commissioner Richard Wharton expressed his concerns over the safety of e-bikes.
These concerns were seconded by Israel, adding that talks about adding electric bikes to the ban “is appropriate in light of this discussion.”
Edgartown select board member Arthur Smadbeck noted that there was a discussion in the past concerning electric bicycles rentals, specifically whether they should be on the bike paths. According to Smadbeck, that past discussion ended with the acknowledgement of electric bicycles being considered bicycles, and that the town “doesn’t have control” over e-bike regulations, and therefore “couldn’t discriminate against them on a bike path.” He added that because of his understanding of the inherent definition of a bicycle, owners of bike rentals do not need permission from the town to rent out electric bicycles.
Oak Bluffs has not yet had the specific discussion about electric bikes, said select board member Emma Green-Beach, adding that the discussion about a possible ban “could start to become a whole other issue that we don’t see.”
There have been no formal movements on the issue.
In other business, commission chair Christine Todd announced an upcoming joint public hearing with Nantucket County commissioners, Island board council representatives, and Steamship board member Jim Malkin.
The joint hearing is “relative to the Steamship legislation [in order] to discuss the process that unfolded with the presentation of this proposal to the legislature, and share our thoughts on how we would like to proceed moving forward with addressing this to Sen. Julian Cyr, D-Truro, and state Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth, and also talk about some other areas of concern where it may benefit us to be collaborating with Nantucket in current and future endeavors,” said Todd.
The offices of both Fernandes and Cyr have been notified. The hearing will take place Monday, April 11, at 5 pm via Zoom.
Also briefly discussed at the meeting was the request for advice from the county commission from the towns of Aquinnah and Chilmark, regarding the towns’ Renewable Energy technical assistance program. The assistance is not a financial one.
Meanwhile, Dukes County Commission announced that nominations for the county commission election are now being accepted.