The Ocean Isle Beach Board of Commissioners are prohibiting the use of skateboards, skates, scooters and motorized scooters in bike lanes. The board also announced upcoming improvements for the town, including a flag drop off box and text message system for the police department, during the Tuesday, Sep. 13, meeting.

After the recent passing of resident David Vandenberg, the victim of a fatal car accident while riding his Segway on NC 179 near Ocean Isle Beach, the board is looking to put pedestrian safety at the forefront of its priorities.

The current ordinance, under section 24-42, deems roller skating, in-line skating, skateboarding and the use of motorized scooters unlawful when used on streets. Only motorized vehicles or scooters used on a sidewalk are felonious.

“They [motorized scooters] have become more prevalent and more of a concern now,” Assistant Town Attorney Brian Edes said.

With one-wheeled skateboards, electric unicycles and hoverboards in the mix, the board approved the amendment with the need for clarity in definition of “motorized scooter.” Due to the variety of pedestrian transportation, the ordinance will return to the table at next month’s BOC meeting with the revised definition.

Town Clerk Casey Hayes explained that the board will discuss and vote on the proposed definition of “motorized scooter” on October 11. She added that the town has had few reports of safety concerns regarding motorized scooters.

The proposed definition is: “a device with no more than three 12-inch or smaller diameter wheels, with or without handlebars, that is designed to be stood upon by the user while riding and is powered by an electric or gas motor that is capable of propelling the device with or without human propulsion at a speed no greater than 19 miles per hour on a paved level surface. The device shall not exceed 50 pounds in weight.”

Mayor Pro Tem Dean Walters shared his concern for those with handicap modes of transportation being penalized with the amendment.

In response, Edes assured meeting attendees that motorized mobility devices utilized by people who have a disability, such as motorized wheelchairs, will not be penalized if used in a bike lane.

“This is a proactive safety measure to protect pedestrian traffic in the bike lane,” Casey Hayes noted.

Also during the meeting, Town Administrator Daisy Ivey announced that a flag drop off box has been ordered for the town and will be placed at the Ocean Isle Beach Fire Department in about two weeks. The box allows homeowners to retire their tattered flags. Any flags dropped off will be taken out of the box and properly disposed of.

Ivey also announced that the town is working on a quick text messaging system for the police department. The system will give residents and visitors the opportunity to text the police department tips or information. People will still be able to call the department, the text system will serve as an additional option. There is no further information for when the system will launch.

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