Monday, July 10, 2006


The David and Goliath “us against them” campaign focused upon banning mopeds from the byways of Martha’s Vineyard Island started back in 1988 when numerous serious moped accidents had made national news. It was about that time that I first started riding a motorcycle here on the Island. I was an adult who had a healthy respect for the inherent dangers associated with motorcycle riding and I could see how those dangers were multiplied ten fold on little scooters operated by inexperienced pilots who were full of vacation exuberance and didn’t have a clue about the Island roads or where they were going.

Notice I said I was an adult. That’s because I was 42 at the time, and I guess that classifies me as an adult. However, a good majority of the people who rent mopeds are adults, so what’s the problem? The problem is, the people who rent and ride mopeds are clueless or else they think they’re bulletproof. They think nothing is going to happen to them. I think everyone who intends to rent a moped should watch a short 5 to 10 minute film showing graphically what can happen and why. But that would be bad for business --- the moped business. When I started riding I made sure I had the proper protective gear, and I never rode without a good full-face helmet, a leather jacket and boots, not flip-flops and a T-shirt. I took a motorcycle safety course, more than once, and practiced panic stops and avoidance maneuvers on a regular basis. I also did a lot of reading and learned skills that actually changed the way I drove a car and viewed traffic situations. However, the poor souls who rent mopeds and race around this Island have little to no experience on anything with two wheels and a motor. I say this because riding a lawnmower doesn’t qualify as experience, nor does a 10-speed bike. Heck, I’ll bet most of these people haven’t been on a bicycle in years.

Every summer, the horror stories would unfold about vacation visitors who had never been on a moped, much less a motorcycle, and in some cases didn’t even have a driver’s license. Nevertheless, they were set free on the seat of a moped after riding around the block and/or listening to an anemic warning. They were allowed to ride wearing nothing more than shorts, a T-shirt and flip-flops or less, and with a cheap helmet bobbling upon their precious heads.

Every summer, the ER at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital received numerous victims of the moped’s unforgiving bite, and practically without fail, one of those victims would be damaged for life, or not survive. The MV Gazette would publish the sad details of these incidents along with the rhetoric, vapid promises and displays of crocodile tears from the venders, on a regular basis. I don’t expect you to read all these MV Gazette articles. The records readily available to me only go back to 2000.

Hospital Emergency Services Director Begins Comprehensive Survey of Moped Accidents Mopeds are dangerous. Or aren't they? Or, why, where, when and how are they dangerous?Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Moped Driver Suffers Serious Injuries A 37-year-old Watertown man is in stable condition after having been struck head-on by an oncoming car while riding a moped on Airport Road shortly after noon on Sunday.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Moped Survey Lists Accidents Moped accident victims need more training — most have never driven a motorized two-wheeler before, and the average customer gets seven minutes of training at the rental shop. Moped crash victims tend to be short-term visitors to the Island, and they crash most frequently in August. More bicyclists are hurt each summer than moped drivers, but victims of moped accidents tend to be hurt far more seriously.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, January 5, 2001

Moped Safety Debated A forum at the Oak Bluffs School last night began with the findings of a recent study on two-wheeled vehicles and ended in a lengthy dialogue about the history, safety and future of mopeds on the Island.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, February 16, 2001

Moped Opponents and Dealers Reach Accord After Long Battle Casting aside deep differences, moped dealers and their politically active opponents formally agreed yesterday to implement a nine-point plan aimed at one goal — reducing injuries to moped riders.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, April 6, 2001

Police Extend Crash Probe One day after the family of Eric MacLean announced they were filing a wrongful death suit against Robert Cimeno and Beach Road Moped Rentals in connection with the car crash in March that killed Mr. MacLean, state police armed with search warrants Saturday moved in on Mr. Cimeno's business and a Cimeno family residence in Oak BluffsOriginally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, June 5, 2001

Moped Crash Along Beach Road Claims Life of Virginia Visitor Three hours after renting a moped in Oak Bluffs Saturday morning, 30-year-old Katherine D. Miller tried to round a right curve on Beach Road near Harthaven, lost control of the moped and struck an oncoming car. She died of head injuries, becoming the fourth person killed in a moped accident on the Island since 1996.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, July 10, 2001

Moped Tragedy on Island Mourned and Accepted; Officials Ask for Training The 30-year-old woman killed in last Saturday's moped accident in Oak Bluffs loved to make furniture, especially chests and tables. Kate Dunnet Miller was president of her high school alumni association. "There was a charisma about her, a vibrancy. She was a real extrovert," said her mother-in-law, Dr. Caryn Miller of Washington, D.C.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, July 13, 2001

New Moped Crash Leaves Driver with Severe Head Injuries Just five days after a moped accident in Oak Bluffs killed a Virginia woman, another accident yesterday in Edgartown has left a 60-year-old moped rider from Florida in critical condition with severe head injuriesOriginally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, July 13, 2001

Rising Moped Accidents Lead To Scrutiny of Town Regulations: Family Speaks Out Four weeks after her younger sister was killed in a moped accident in Oak Bluffs, Christina Dunnet Davis is vowing to join any campaign that will rid the Vineyard of mopeds.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, August 3, 2001

Oak Bluffs Leaders Back Moped Laws Convinced there's no way to make rental mopeds safe on the Vineyard, Oak Bluffs selectmen this week threw their support behind proposed state legislation that would require anyone renting a moped to have a motorcycle license.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, August 10, 2001

Two Crashes Hospitalize Riders Operators of rented mopeds suffered two serious accidents this week on the same stretch of Seaview Avenue near Lola’s Restaurant in Oak Bluffs. In both accidents, moped operators lost control, crossed the center line and crashed into oncoming auto traffic. Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, August 17, 2001

Seven Owners Control Mopeds .There's money to be made in moped rentals on Martha's Vineyard, but just a handful of people are counting the cash — seven shop owners and four landlords, to be exact. Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, August 17, 2001

Hospital Survey on Mopeds Shows Decline in Accidents from Last Season Levels New figures released this week from the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital show the number of people injured in moped accidents dropped sharply this year compared to the same period last year, but the statistics are getting mixed reviews.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Moped Laws Are Ignored; Injuries Tell Tragic Tale Two middle school teachers from Florida, Judy and Barnard Lorence, should be back in their classrooms getting ready for a new school year, but there’s no chance of that now.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, August 24, 2001

Moped Laws Are Ignored; Injuries Tell Tragic Tale Oak Bluffs selectman Todd Rebello this week all but admitted that town officials have done a lousy job making moped dealers abide by town regulations, and selectmen agreed Tuesday night to improve local enforcement.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, August 24, 2001

Selectmen Support Tough Moped Laws After listening to a presentation by Sam Feldman of the Mopeds Are Dangerous Committee, the All-Island Selectmen Association unanimously decided to support legislation that would require a motorcycle license to rent a moped.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, September 7, 2001

Swapping Mopeds for Liquor License: Businessman Makes Deal in Oak Bluffs Here's the trade. A moped dealer who controls two rental outlets in Oak Bluffs is offering to shut down one moped shop.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, March 1, 2002

Spring Visitor Becomes Moped Casualty, Suffering Serious Injuries in Chilmark The Vineyard received an unfortunate sign of the summer season's approach last weekend when a Mashpee woman suffered severe injuries after her rental moped slipped off South Road in Chilmark Sunday afternoon. Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, April 19, 2002

Town Leaders Wrestle with Mopeds Promising to show moped dealers no mercy this summer, Oak Bluffs selectmen have begun to toughen up moped bylaws, adding new language that will increase licensing fees, set higher penalties for violations and establish a minimum height limit for child passengers.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, April 26, 2002

Moped Crash Tells Sad Tale Months Later: Wife of Victim Recounts Nightmare Moped dealers like to look at the numbers this way: Of the thousands of people who rent mopeds every season, only a few end up crashing.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, May 3, 2002

Oak Bluffs Leaders Ask for Moped Cuts Voters in Oak Bluffs could put a significant dent in the number of mopeds rented in their town if they back a tough proposal put forth by selectmen. At a special town meeting on June 18, residents will be asked to approve a bylaw that would cut down the number of moped dealer licenses issued each year from seven to five.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, May 31, 2002

Statistics Show Drop in Moped Accidents According to new statistics released this week by Martha's Vineyard Hospital, the number of people injured in moped accidents during the first seven months of the year dropped sharply for the second year in a row.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, September 13, 2002

Hospital Reports Decline in Moped Accidents; Fewer Vendors, Tighter Laws Explain Trend Oak Bluffs had fewer mopeds and fewer dealers renting them this year. Now the hospital is reporting fewer people ending up in the emergency room after crashing a moped.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, December 6, 2002

When Two-Wheelers Crash, Moped Victims Suffer Worst, New Hospital Survey Reveals The latest survey of moped, bicycle and motorcycle accidents on the Island won't show the broken ribs, the punctured lungs or the "whole body rubbed raw" by a case of road rash, said Dr. Alan Hirshberg, the director of emergency services at the Martha's Vineyard HospitalOriginally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, February 7, 2003

Largest Moped Agency Fails to Meet Deadline for Renewal of License After more than a year of tough talk about enforcing moped regulations and showing scofflaw dealers no mercy, Oak Bluffs is now giving a break to two brothers who own the biggest fleet of mopeds in town.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, June 3, 2003

Moped Rider Hit and Injured at Blinker; Selectmen Will Consider Four-Way Stop One day after a moped rider was hit by a car at the blinker light — the fifth accident at the crossroads so far this year — leaders in Oak Bluffs are poised to take drastic action to make one of the Island's most dangerous intersections safer.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, June 27, 2003
Oak Bluffs Selectmen to Check Moped Dealers' Record Books In the years of controversy and political wrangling over the safety of mopeds on the Vineyard, dealers have kept close guard over one vital statistic: the actual number of mopeds they rent and set loose on Island roads.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Better Direction in Moped News: Accident Totals Continue to Fall Joanne Nutting is one of the 27 people who crashed a moped on the Vineyard last year and ended up in the emergency room at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, February 13, 2004

Emergency Responders Report Moped Accidents Down Again Moped accidents were down again on the Vineyard this summer, and emergency responders cite better public safety education as a possible factor.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Island Visitor Dies in Moped Accident A woman visitor driving a moped down a straight stretch of the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road in West Tisbury on Sunday was killed after she reportedly lost control of the two-wheeled vehicle and struck a utility pole head-on.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Moped Fatality Incites Advocates for Change Sunday's moped accident that claimed the life of a 41-year-old New York City woman has reopened old wounds for Islanders who want to see stronger safety standards for the two-wheeled vehicles, and others who want them banned from the Vineyard altogether.Originally published in the Vineyard Gazette edition of Friday, July 7, 2006
As you can see, the latest casualty and fatality was on July 7, 2006 and as of this writing the passenger on this fateful moped has still not regained consciousness. Mopeds are dangerous!

I guess the logical question is, why do I care whether anyone rides a moped or not? I’m a real estate broker and that has nothing to do with mopeds. True, but I want my clients and prospective clients to be happy and healthy forever, and mopeds are dangerous. I can tell you this from personal observations and experience.

When I was on a Bermuda honeymoon back in 1967 when mopeds were relatively new to that Island, I remember being in my hotel lobby one evening enjoying a rum swizzle with my bride when 3 loud and possibly drunk men hobbled into the lobby, one hobbling more than the other. That was because he had a branch sticking through his leg and he was bleeding all over the place. He had run off the road on his moped. However, that didn’t stop my wife and me from renting mopeds the next day. Heck no, we were smarter and we would not be drinking and riding. It was a beautiful day when we took possession of our fun rides. We set out to explore the Island with me in the lead. As I gained more and more confidence, I would go faster and faster. Of course my bride, not willing to be left behind gave it the gas and stayed right on my tail. Did I tell you we didn’t have a clue where we were going and she was wearing a bikini and flip-flops? So, there we were whizzing along, and all of a sudden I heard this loud crash and wretched scream behind me. My child bride could not negotiate a fork in the road where there was tall stone wall in the center of the road. She crashed right into it, bouncing back out onto the asphalt and sliding about 15 feet on her stomach, chest and face. Did I tell you we weren’t wearing helmets? She lived, but the rest of our honeymoon was spent with her in the hospital.

My second experience was when I was working in Edgartown on Upper Main Street. At the time, I was parking my car in front of my office on the shoulder of the road, as did other people. I came out of my office at the end of the day and across the street were several summer vacationers lounging on the grass in front of the pizzeria. They motioned to me and told me to look at the side of my car. The entire front fender was caved in. I was shocked and asked if anyone knew what happened. They did, because they all saw it happen. A group of moped riders were racing up the street, horsing around, when one of them swerved and crashed into my car. The driver, who I would think would have been badly hurt considering the amount of damage, righted himself and sped away. I couldn’t believe it. Surely the moped was damaged? Surely the driver was damaged? I asked the witnesses what the driver looked like and what the moped looked like. The driver was wearing tan shorts and a white t-shirt, the moped was red. Talk about a needle in a haystack. I went to every single moped dealer on the Island and no one knew anything. My experience cost me over $2,500.00 to repair.

I haven’t ridden my motorcycles in several years, because I’m too busy and if I can’t ride regularly, I don’t want to ride at all. When I did ride, I would limit my riding during July and not ride here at all during August, because it was just too dangerous. I have been hit in the rear at a stop sign, chased and practically pushed off the road by kids on mopeds and constantly cut off by people cutting across my path who don’t know where they’re going. Without a doubt, I was invisible --- but not invincible. Mopeds are not toys and what makes them even more dangerous is the fact that the wheels are so small that the patch of rubber making contact with the road is miniscule. That, coupled with the fine carpet of sand that is always on the roads simulating tiny marbles makes stability that much more tenuous.

So, please don’t ride a moped on Martha’s Vineyard or let anyone you love ride a moped. Our Island Transit bus service is excellent and goes everywhere. There are guided tours going all over the Island and you can always hire a rental car or a cab. Our bicycle path network is constantly expanding and bicycles are a better way to get around, and exercise while you’re doing it. Did I tell you …


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're just bitter because one hit your car. Sure there's inherent danger in scooters/mopeds, but there's danger in everything. I took my Zuma, classified as a moped, over there last year and almost T-Boned a van that pulled out in front of me. That's the basis for my "Vans are Dangerous" Campaign.

8:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe moped riders do need more training, but you should encourage the training, not ban a very popular, efficant, and safe transportation. most accidents on ped come from careless car drivers, not reckless opperation of a moped.

11:08 AM  

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