Council, moped operators debate issues

Focus on Weldon’s Way congestion
Thu, 11/14/2019 - 6:15pm

The New Shoreham Town Council hosted a spirited debate with the island’s moped operators at its work session on Nov. 6, about issues associated with their operations, including training on Weldon’s Way. 

The item was a continuation from a council meeting in October, when the Town Council noted that one of the biggest issues was moped training conducted on Weldon’s Way and how it impacts traffic in that area during the busy summer season. The first topic listed under the item on the council’s agenda was Weldon’s Way, followed by training and alternative locations, tags or identification, and moped and gas storage.

Four of the island’s moped businesses operate out of facilities located on or near Weldon’s Way. They are Aldo’s Mopeds, Island Moped & Bike, Miles Unlimited, Inc., and The Moped Man.

The debate began after Town Manager Ed Roberge told the council that the training of moped riders on Weldon’s Way and Chapel Street “exacerbates a traffic flow issue” that needs to be addressed with restrictions or prohibitions through an amended ordinance, including greater police enforcement. “So I am going to strongly recommend an amended ordinance that recognizes the limitations of training within public rights of way or on public properties.”

Roberge said he would bring an amended ordinance to the Town Council on Wednesday, Nov. 20, which includes language describing training requirements on properties. “We would need to enforce that,” he said, noting that the town “needs to work with the moped operators.”

Roberge said training on Weldon’s Way “is concentrated into one, tight, really busy area. From June to September it’s prime real estate, and is stressed from congestion. We really need to focus on how that is managed,” he said, suggesting alternate locations. “It’s an important issue.”

John Leone, a moped business owner, didn’t feel the town needed to amend its ordinance to impose restrictions. “The state doesn’t require us to do any training whatsoever,” he said. “And training is very important in terms of safety. If people aren’t trained properly, then you’re going to have more accidents.”

“As far as alternative locations, I disagree,” he said, noting that he felt it would lead to other problems. Leone said he thought Police Chief Vin Carlone would be “the best person to address the situation. He understands the dynamics of (all of the traffic patterns).”

Willis Brown, who also owns a moped business, said insurance companies give the business owners a form, “which requires us to evaluate a rider’s ability to operate a moped. And if they can’t operate it, we’re required, by the rules of the insurance company, to give them their money back.”

On the other hand, Willis said, “if we’re satisfied that they can accurately control the moped, then we have them sign that document provided by the insurance company.” He said, the form states three requirements: (1) that they’re given adequate time to practice; (2) they feel confident they can properly operate the moped; and (3) they show that they can adequately operate the moped.

“We are more concerned about the ability of the moped renter, or rider, than you are,” said Brown. “What you’re concerned about is using Weldon’s Way as a shortcut. Simple as that.” He added: “You’re writing the rules; so do you think it’s ethical or honest that you write the rules that limit us so you can drive faster down Weldon’s Way?”

“I recognize the importance of training,” said Roberge. “The ordinance makes no reference to training. The point is, that’s a public street, and the activity from a private business enterprise, quite frankly, I’m not even sure if this Town Council is authorized to allow that to happen in the first place. The council needs to look at that — if there is an activity that’s going on that shouldn’t go on within a public right of way, whether it’s Water Street, Corn Neck Road, Chapel Street, or Weldon’s Way. It should be happening off and outside the public rights of way.”

Resident Kay Lewis said, “I want to endorse what Ed just said. Weldon’s Way is not a shortcut. It’s a public street.” She said when people drive down Weldon’s Way the moped operators act like traffic cops and stop traffic. “That should not be happening.”

“They shouldn’t be stopping people in the road,” said Leone, who suggested that the operators meet with the council and the chief. “I think there could be a solution between the moped operators and the town.”

The Town Council will continue the moped discussion at its next meeting, which is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.