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June 06, 2023

Ocean City may soon ban electric bikes from its boardwalk

Mayor Jay Gillian plans to introduce legislation that would restrict their use to the Jersey Shore town's bike paths

Government Bicycles
Ocean City e-bike ban Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Ocean City Mayor Jay Gillian plans to introduce legislation that would ban electric bikes on the boardwalk. The e-bikes, which can reach speeds similar to mopeds, have caused safety concerns for beachgoers, he says.

To make Ocean City safer for shore goers, Mayor Jay Gillian plans to introduce legislation that would ban people from riding electric bikes on the boardwalk.

During an emergency City Council meeting last Thursday, officials raised concerns about the e-bikes ridden at high speeds in crowded areas at high speeds, the Press of Atlantic City reported

Battery-powered e-bikes travel at speeds similar to motor scooters or mopeds, with some reaching upwards of 30 or 40 mph. During the summer, bicycles can be ridden on the boardwalk from 5 a.m. until noon. But the city's regulations do not make distinctions between electronic bicycles and traditional bikes.

Gillian said he would introduce an ordinance this week that would only permit e-bikes on the city's bike paths. The ordinance also would ban motorized bicycles and low-speed electric scooters on the boardwalk.

"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 legislation says, according to OCNJ Daily.

Olivia Thompson of the Ocean City Bicycle Center told 6ABC that she is on board with the rules changes and will no longer rent out e-bikes. 

"There's just too much liability issues, and we have regular bikes," she said. "They go like 20 miles per hour. So you put somebody on it who has no idea how to ride it and then put all the traffic into it; it's just not safe."

To amend the city's ordinance on bicycles on the boardwalk, there must be two votes – one to introduce the legislation and a second after a public hearing, the Press of Atlantic City reported.

The legislation comes after Gillian instituted several rules changes after Memorial Day weekend, when police responded to an abundance of teen disturbances. Ocean City's beaches now close at 8 p.m., backpacks are prohibited on the boardwalk after 8 p.m., and the curfew for juveniles is now 11 p.m.

"In the end, protecting our reputation as 'America's Greatest Family Resort' will benefit everybody in Ocean City," Gillian said about enacting the rule changes.