Tisbury selectmen have agreed to bulk up safety requirements for moped rentals, beginning this season, in response to a complaint filed this week by a group of Islanders mobilized against moped rentals on the Vineyard.

The Mopeds Are Dangerous Action Committee came before the selectmen this week with a formal complaint dated Feb. 4 that outlined what they claim are violations and lack of enforcement of the town’s moped bylaws. The committee appeared before Oak Bluffs selectmen in late January with a similar complaint.

Nicole Brisson of Mopeds Are Dangerous Action Committee. — Mark Lovewell

Three of the Island’s four moped rental companies are located in Oak Bluffs; the fourth is in Vineyard Haven.

In the complaint filed this week, the committee focused on what they claimed was a violation of the clause in the town bylaw that outlaws transfers of licenses. A license that was once held by Adventure Rentals was transferred to new owners at the same address under the name Island Adventure Rentals, their complaint stated.

The complaint also stated that the number of mopeds being rented from the Tisbury location is not tracked, and identifying information for each vehicle required by the bylaw is not being kept in town files. Under the bylaw, each license allows for 25 vehicles that must be numbered. The complaint asks the town to void the transfer and not to issue any other licenses to the company.

At the meeting Tuesday, moped action committee member Nicole Brisson read the same presentation given to the Oak Bluffs selectmen earlier this year.

“It is way past time to solve this problem and the time to deal with it is right now,” she said.

Board chairman Melinda Loberg said they have given all the information to town counsel.

“We certainly take your complaint seriously, and we are, like other Islanders, very concerned about safety and adherence to the law,” she said. “We’ve done a lot of soul searching and record searching here.”

A longstanding Island movement against mopeds was reinvigorated last summer after two young women were seriously injured in an accident on a rented moped in Oak Bluffs. One of the women lost part of her leg in the accident.

Roughly 20 people attended the Tisbury meeting; a few spoke to the moped issue.

Commercial driver Katherine Kavanaugh said she's witnessed accidents. — Mark Lovewell

Katherine Kavanaugh, a commercial driver, said she often encounters moped renters driving dangerously when she has a school bus full of children.

“I’m sorry, I’ve got 30 children in a bus. I want them safe on my bus, and they’re not,” she said. “I’ve witnessed the accidents...I think about the level of responsibility. The owners are not held responsible.”

Michael Brisson asked what sort of checks are in place to keep the rental company accountable and asked that the rental business in Tisbury be at least scaled back.

“I’d say put the guy at the minimum down to 25 units,” he said. “See how he behaves, see how many less accidents there are next year and monitor him like a hawk.”

Though the majority of the complaint was referred to counsel, selectmen agreed to take some immediate action. In an unanimous vote, the selectmen agreed to review the current bylaw and consider adding further safety regulations like weight verification and customer education of the risks. They agreed that special conditions would be applied to the moped rental license to bulk up the safety regulations. Selectman Tristan Israel was not present.

Tisbury is in the middle of the moped licensing season. Island Adventure Rentals met the March 1 deadline for their application and the town must issue a license by the end of March, town administrator assistant Barbara Lampson said.

Selectmen also voted unanimously to place a nonbinding question on the town election ballot to ask whether the public is in favor of banning moped rentals on the Island. The question will appear on other town election ballots as well.

The action committee also plans to petition for a special town meeting warrant article asking to deem the license of Island Adventure Rentals null and void. Town meeting petitions are due Friday and require 100 signatures.

“I don’t have a problem putting a warrant article on for this meeting if it’s legal, if it’s something we can ask the town to vote on, and I don’t know the legal answer to that,” Ms. Loberg said. if petition comes to us, were obligated to put it on.”

In other business, interim harbor master John Crocker, Richard P. Chase and Christina Colarusso were recommended as finalists for harbor master. Selectmen agreed to go forward with scheduling interviews. The board also received a draft of recommended beach regulations but reserved discussion for a future meeting.