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Ocean City Plans E-Bike Ban on Boardwalk

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E-bikes are allowed on the Boardwalk.

By MADDY VITALE

Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian is sending not one, but several messages loud and clear to rowdy teens and others who want to disrupt the family-friendly atmosphere that residents and visitors have enjoyed for generations at the shore town.

In response to major incidents of rowdy teen behavior over the Memorial Day, Gillian set up some ground rules for the summer. Beaches will be closed at 8 p.m. Backpacks will not be permitted after 8 p.m. on the beach and Boardwalk and Boardwalk bathrooms will be closed at 10 p.m. Lastly, the curfew for juveniles will be 11 p.m. instead of 1 a.m. The policies will go into effect for Father’s Day weekend.

And on Thursday at a City Council meeting, Gillian will propose an ordinance to quell another growing problem in Ocean City: E-bikes zipping along on the Boardwalk and creating a danger for some people walking along the boards.

During a June 1 news conference, Gillian told the crowd that he would recommend a ban on E-bikes on the Boardwalk. His comment generated applause from some members of the public.

On Monday night, the City Council agenda packet for Thursday’s meeting was released with an ordinance to ban E-bikes, motorized bicycles and low-speed electric scooters.

Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian mentions his intention to introduce an ordinance banning E-bikes on the Boardwalk during a news conference on June 1.

The ordinance reads in part, “the north-south bike path, the West Avenue Route and the Boardwalk are among the most important and frequently utilized bike paths enjoyed by bicyclists in the city; and the recent increase in the number of low-speed electric bicycles on the city’s crowded bike paths, including the Boardwalk, have raised concerns about public safety.”

The ordinance further states that while the E-bikes will not be allowed on the Boardwalk, they will be allowed on city bike paths which “will address public safety concerns about the Boardwalk without depriving the users of low-speed electric bicycles of ample safe spaces in which to ride their bikes.”

Complaints about some E-bike riders posing dangers to pedestrians have been growing since last year.

Last June, Police Chief Jay Prettyman wrote a letter to the community about the escalating problem of E-bike and regular bike riders not following the rules of the road. When cyclists on E-bikes or other bicycles are riding on the road, bikers are required to follow the same laws as motor vehicle traffic.

At the time, Prettyman urged young E-bike riders and their parents, to keep their kids under control amid an increase in juveniles “recklessly” riding their electric bikes and regular bicycles through town. There were two bike crashes within weeks of each other last summer.

Some residents spoke out at City Council meetings about the dangers some E-bikes have posed when not operated safely.

Susan Cracovaner, of Ocean City, said during an April 27 Council meeting that, “After nearly being run over by E-bike riders on the Boardwalk earlier this year, my husband contacted Council members, the police chief, the city solicitor, the mayor and our Assemblymen, only to be told that E-bikes are subject to the rules and regulations for non-powered bicycles and that any change would have to take place at the state level.”

She also said at the same meeting, “Regulations need to address the use of E-bikes on our streets, Boardwalk, bridges and sidewalks.”

Ocean City resident Susan Cracovaner addresses Council April 27 about E-bikes.