Rehoboth Beach officials are set to adopt a series of new regulations to keep scooters off sidewalks and into their own designated spaces – at a cost, of course.
Scooter riders will no longer be able to park on the sidewalks and can no longer park at the bike racks. To park a scooter within the city, riders must register the scooter and pay $40 for a seasonal parking permit.
To accommodate scooters, the city will create special parking corrals around town, mostly at beach-block street ends. Scooters can also be parked in metered spaces as long as riders pay the meters. Fines and penalties are the same as for cars – $30 – and enforcement will be 24/7. Scooter permits will be in effect from mid-May until after Labor Day.
Despite requests from employees who ride their scooters to work within the city, the commissioners decided to have no exceptions to the $40 permit charge. Permits will be available at the Parking Department office at 30 ½ Rehoboth Ave. and at the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce office.
The commissioners agreed to the measures at their March 4 workshop, but cannot vote on the new regulations until their Friday, March 15 meeting.
Most of the new regulations were the product of the streets and transportation committee, which on March 1, polished off the plan that would add 189 scooter parking spaces within the city.
New scooter parking spaces are located mostly in the beach-block street ends, with car parking spaces converted for scooters. The committee estimated that seven scooters could fit per space; the commissioners decided to leave the corrals unlined.
Additional parking is located behind the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company hall on Rehoboth Avenue, which would add 12 to 16 spaces, as well as near the Village Improvement Association clubhouse on Grenoble Place. There would be no scooter parking on Rehoboth Avenue.
Commissioner Lorraine Zellers said the city already had language in its code preventing motorized vehicles from riding and parking on the sidewalk. However, the commissioners and the committee wrestled with how to define a scooter and what vehicles are excluded from that definition.
The commissioners eventually agreed parking permits would be required for mopeds – which already must be licensed in Delaware – and motor scooters, defined as a two-wheeled vehicle with a step-through chassis.
Motorcycles, Segways, motorized skateboards and wheelchairs and tripeds, like the three-wheeled “Scoot Coupes” frequently seen around Rehoboth in the summer are excluded from the scooter spaces and must park at metered spaces or at the car permit spaces.
While scooters can park in the corrals and at the metered spaces, the commissioners are still trying to work out whether to allow scooters to park in all areas where permit parking is allowed.
Mayor Sam Cooper said, “Why not reiterate that we’re going to enforce no vehicles on the sidewalks and be done with it? Forget everything. The more I come back to it, the more I think letting them park in regular spaces is wrong.”
Commissioners Pat Coluzzi and Bill Sargent said not doing anything would only exacerbate the problem with scooter parking. Coluzzi said by setting aside spaces, scooters will not be competing with cars for parking. With the corrals, Coluzzi said, the city also avoids issues with scooter possibly parking between cars or getting hit by cars trying to park.
City Manager Greg Ferrese said the commissioners should try to keep the regulations as simple and easy to understand as possible, at least for the first summer. He said the city is late getting the regulations in place, because it takes time to get the word out.