Jennifer Waters Dahl, owner of Somers Point Bridge Tours LLC, started offering Segway rentals on a trial basis Thursday (Oct. 3) from the Bob's Grill bicycle rental location at 14th Street and Boardwalk.
The Segways offer an easy way for anybody with physical limitations or an adventurous spirit to tour the boardwalk. But as with the tours of the pedestrian path on the causeway between Somers Point and Ocean City, the addition of powered vehicles to an already chaotic mix of bicycles and pedestrians may draw its detractors.
On Thursday, customers were offered instruction on operating the Segways and 90 minutes of rental time for $40. Anybody interested in reserving a rental or learning more can call 609-432-3176.
Renters must weigh at least 100 pounds and not more than 265 pounds and be at least 16 years old. Helmets are required and provided (and sanitized after each tour).The company is fully insured, according to Dahl. The vehicles have a maximum speed of 12 mph, a zero turn-radius and a short stopping distance, she said.
A local ordinance prohibits the use of motorized vehicles on the beach and boardwalk (except by permit for fishing), according to Ocean City Police Capt. Steve Ang. Another ordinance prohibits the rental of motor scooters, motor bikes and motorcycles (along with minibikes, go-carts, swamp buggies and snowmobiles).
But a state law (39:4-14.10) specifically states that "electric personal assistive mobility devices" (including the Segway-brand devices) "shall not be considered a motorized wheelchair, motorized bicycle, motorcycle, motorized scooter, motorized skateboard, vehicle or motor vehicle." (See full text of the law.)
"An electric personal assistive mobility device may be operated on the public highways, sidewalks and bicycle paths of the State," according to the statute.
The law says the operator of such a device should be given the rights of a bicyclist."The governing body of any municipality may, by ordinance, regulate the operation of electric personal assistive mobility devices upon the roadways and public properties under municipal jurisdiction," the law states. "The State or the governing body of any county or municipality may prohibit or regulate their operation on any public highway under its jurisdiction."
Ang said the police department is still interpreting the ordinances and state law, and consulting with the city administration.
Ocean City Business Administrator Mike Dattilo was unable to return a call for comment immediately on Thursday.