DCC in support of Islandwide moped rental ban

Dukes County commissioners discuss looking at e-bikes, too.

County commissioners said they think a ban on moped rentals should be expanded to the entire Island. — Brian Dowd

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. 


  1. The “livelihood” of two people does not offset the multitude of deaths and injuries. I CAN’T believe anyone can support mopeds! Phillip Morris has the same argument, still killed my mom and I would love to end cigarettes as well. both need to come to an end. There is no instruction, i have seen many people that should not be riding a bike, much less a moped, drive off flailing and weaving. There is NO conversation left to be had on this topic.

    • “There is NO conversation left to be had on this topic.” Then it’s not a conversation, no?

      While I would not recommend people rent a moped on the island, I’d hardly compare it to the tens of millions of people who died because the tobacco industry lied to the American public for generations. Certainly, people are logical enough to understand that riding a motorized vehicle comes with inherent risk.

      • Warning labels, strong ones, were first put on cigarette packs in 1965 so 57 years the public has been warned and many knew even before labelling. I dont think the tobacco industry has been lying for 57 years.

      • we have had this conversation for 20 years. how many people have lost legs, arms and lives in those 20 years? we have had enough talk, enough committees and meetings. Hope that clears my point up.

  2. I still remember the summer a number of years ago when a couple on a rented moped hit a sand patch by the side of West Tisbury Road, skidded, and then ditched on the asphalt in front of our driveway. Even though the couple had helmets on, it wasn’t enough to protect the young woman and it was later reported that she had died. The young man was in bad shape too.

    Even though they may well have been doing everything right, mopeds are dangerous!!! So glad to see that this issue has come to the forefront and being dealt with. Amen!

  3. Please, Please ban mopeds! Island roads cannot safely provide room for mopeds, bikes. scooters and cars. Too many serious injuries and deaths have occurred to allow continuation of this method of travel . The Vineyard has many other and safer ways to get around the island.
    And while we are at it, jet skis should not be allowed where people swim, kayak, canoe, water ski or where they are shell-fishing. They are noisy, polluting and dangerous.

  4. Mopeds rentals are what create an incredibly dangerous situation. It’s obvious that they should be stopped since the purveyors have been unable to make using them any safer for tourists who have no understanding of the danger they put themselves in when they rent them here.
    E-Bikes are similar but different and at this point I don’t see how they could be included in this ban. They are however, MOTORIZED VEHICLES – and should not be allowed on bike paths with the motors engaged – but boy that would be hard to enforce.

    • “It’s obvious that they should be stopped since the purveyors have been unable to make using them any safer for tourists who have no understanding of the danger they put themselves in when they rent them here.” The logic of this is strange to me – very few if any would argue that Hertz car rentals is responsible of someone with a license rents a car and doesn’t know how to drive it. Now, if the state of MA wants to change the rules to require Moped riders to have a special license, that’s one thing, but for a town to curtail your freedom on a whim of ‘safety’ seems, at best, specious reasoning.

      • You need to pass a state driving test to get a liscence to drive a car. You can’t rent a car without one. Anyone can walk into one of our moped rental shops and jump on one – there’s no rest required, the training is very minimal and as long as your credit card works – you pass!
        The problem is not the moped it’s the unskilled driver on a public road causing dangerous conditions for themselves and others using the roads. If you seriously believe moped rentals are ok here I don’t think you are really paying attention.

    • E-Bikes: If anything, we should be encouraging these as a replacement for automobiles and mopeds alike, not banning them from bike paths. They are eco-friendly (or at least, as eco-friendly as anything with a motor CAN be), cost efficient, and capable of moving large numbers of people over small distances with little noise pollution. We should be promoting this as the wave of the future and developing transit bike paths on most of the island to ensure people can get where they need to from where they want to. How much of paradise do we need to pave in order to put up more parking spots for these ridiculous SUV’s before we come to our senses?

    • E-bikes allow older and disabled people to go places they otherwise could not go.
      I am going to go out on a limb here and say that 80%+ of bike lanes prefer e-bikes be in the bike lane, not in the car lane.
      Lane and path definitions being a bit gray.

  5. “Please, Please ban mopeds!” … “And while we are at it, jet skis should not be allowed…”

    Car/truck crashes have killed and injured more than mopeds as a form of travel, perhaps we should ban cars and trucks instead? Or, are those your preferred form of transit and therefore not something you’d be willing to part with?

    It is telling that this war is only on the lowest cost modes of transportation: Mopeds are cheaper to own/run/fix, better for the environment, require less space for parking than a standard ICE car/truck… but you’d rather them rent a Jeep I guess?

  6. I would like to clear up any confusion regarding the legislation that’s currently before the Joint Committee on Municipalities And Regional Government H.4322, the Home Rule Petition that would allow the Town Of Oak to regulate the licensing of rental mopeds and any comments made by the county commissioners at the 04/06/22 commission meeting.

    I was happy to read about the moped rental support that was discussed at the Wednesdays Dukes County Commission, assuming, since it was the day after the committee hearing on H.4322, the town of Oak Bluffs would be getting much needed additional support to help is passage.

    I was disappointed to read that the commission was going to proceed on an independent legislative tangent. I am unaware of any legal authority that’s allows the county commission to regulate rental mopeds or any other form of transportation on public ways as controlled under Mass General Law Chapter 90.

    I would like to be very clear that the home rule petition (H.4322) that I testified in strong support of on Tuesday only involves the regulation of 3 rental moped licenses issued by the town of oak bluffs. If passed into law, it’s has nothing to do with banning privately owned mopeds, E-bikes or any form of transportation on a public way.

    I would also strongly urge anyone concerned with the issues of rental mopeds on the Martha’s Vineyard, to make your voices heard in Boston.

    • The petition is only for eliminating moped rentals. Does not apply to private citizens using a moped that they own. The issue is people arrive here in vacation mode and get on a moped with no idea how to control it. And they kill or maim themselves and endanger others. And it needs to stop.
      E-bikes are great but current bike path rules prohibit motorized vehicles. So the laws need to be changed and the current laws should be enforced until such time as they are.

  7. Perhaps we should decide between necessary or leisure transportation. If the volume of leisure traffic increases, then taxation for that purpose needs to be implemented for infrastructure maintenance and safety officers, just like [ahem] cars, trucks and buses on public highways.
    Otherwise, the subject could descend into ignorance, such as banning beds…since most people die there.

  8. I recently spoke with an EMT here and it reminded me about the effect on the people that may be driving that kill the moped rider, the first responders that have to deal with the effects and memories, the people driving past the scene when it occurs. its not just the riders that suffer.

  9. One person’s necessity is another person’s leasure.
    If you have a car a moped isn’t necessary.
    Is having a jeep on Island necessary?

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