Block Island to implement new safety measures for mopeds after deadly crashes

South County

NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The New Shoreham Town Council voted Wednesday to implement new safety measures after two deadly crashes that occurred one week apart.

After a lengthy discussion, the town council voted to reduce the number of mopeds that each rental company can rent out per day from 34 to 25. They also voted to restrict the hours of operation for mopeds.

“These are difficult decisions I wish none of us had to make,” Second Warden New Shoreham Town Council Andre Boudreau said.

Under the new safety measures, mopeds must be returned to the rental company by 5 p.m., which is three hours earlier than the current return time.

Town fire officials said there have been 55 moped crashes this year alone, the majority of which occurred in the mid-to-late afternoon.

“I want everybody to know, including those operators, that these decisions are not made with malice or with ill intent to any personal business or individual,” Boudreau said. “I’m just looking out for the safety of our community right now the best I can.”

The vote comes after a moped crash that killed a 22-year-old over the weekend. Just one week prior, a 16-year-old from Connecticut teen died in a single-car crash.

The town council plans to discuss other safety measures during a meeting next week, including how old someone has to be to rent a moped and where the mopeds can be operated.

An online petition with more than 3,500 signatures is calling for tougher licensing standards. Potential changes to those standards, like age requirements for example, will be brought up during the next town council meeting.

Other proposals were discussed, but not voted on, at the virtual town council meeting.

Three of the five moped rental companies discussed implementing a wristband system, which the driver would be required to wear. The wristband would indicate to bars and restaurants not to serve alcohol to moped drivers.

One company also proposed hiring a private ambulance service to better respond to accidents on the island.

Previously, the town council said the rescue personnel on the island had been reduced to one-third of its usual capacity due to the coronavirus pandemic.

To help local police and emergency crews, the Rhode Island State Police stationed troopers on the island this weekend and through the rest of the summer to crack down on motor vehicle violations.

After going into executive session, the town council also voted to accept a settlement proposal to reinstate outdoor entertainment licenses with restrictions. Entertainment can operate from 5pm until 9pm and be limited to two performers at the venue.

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