NEW SHOREHAM, R.I. — Police on Block Island have seized more than 40 rental mopeds since June 1 after their riders were seen driving erratically on the narrow roads and sidewalks around the island.
The latest crackdown was Sunday, when New Shoreham police seized 21 mopeds from riders, most from a group seen weaving in traffic, standing up while riding, and not wearing helmets or protective gear. Two were also confiscated after their riders were seen driving on sidewalks.
Last month, they impounded 16 in one weekend. Police contacted the rental companies, which requested that the bikes be impounded so they could take possession for breach of contract.
”Unsafe and aggressive driving will not be tolerated in New Shoreham,” Police Chief Matthew Moynihan said in a statement. “We hope that our response to these incidents will make visitors think twice before bringing bad behavior with them on vacation.”
Wild riders on rental mopeds has been a chronic headache on the island for about 40 years, as townspeople and moped companies have battled in court, at the Statehouse, and even talked about seceding from Rhode Island to get control of the problem.
The new police chief said he and the moped companies found a way to cooperate on the crackdowns. When police stop the reckless riders, they contact the companies that own the rentals; the companies take back the mopeds and the riders forfeit the money they’d paid. While riders aren’t necessarily left stranded on the tiny island, they have to find their own way back.
“It’s effective,” Moynihan said in an interview with the Globe. “As opposed to us writing a citation or summons, we’re removing them from the road.”
“We appreciate the ongoing collaboration with the New Shoreham Police Department,” Mike Finnimore of Island Moped said in a statement released by the police department. “We want our customers to be safe and we will immediately cancel a rental agreement if our mopeds are being used in any way that violate its terms.”
After police stopped the riders Sunday, Aldo’s Mopeds, Island Moped and Bike Rental, and Old Harbor Bike and Moped Rental all immediately requested that the police impound the mopeds so they could take possession for breaches of contract.
“We are providing clear training and guidance to each operator at the time of rental,” John Leone, owner of Old Harbor Bike and Moped Rental, said in a statement. “If people don’t follow the rules and the law, we need to do our part to be good community members and seize the mopeds.”