With the moped rental season set to end Oct. 14, residents and town officials are reporting far fewer of the scooters on Island roads compared with seasons past.

But as Oak Bluffs has chipped away at rental licenses whose numbers are in decline, and there were no serious moped accidents this summer, overall accident rates have remained fairly steady in the past few years — prompting renewed questions about the status of efforts at both the state and local level to ban or limit mopeds on the Island.

On the ground, however — and behind the wheel — residents have seen a decrease in the colorful conveyances.

“There are way fewer, there’s no question about it,” said Mark Luce, a contract driver for the U.S. Postal Service whose route includes stops in the three down-Island towns. He estimated he had seen an 80 per cent reduction in the number of mopeds he encountered on the roads during his route. “I can probably count on two hands the number of times that I’ve had to pass them this summer,” he said.

Available numbers corroborate Mr. Luce’s assessment. Oak Bluffs town administrator Bob Whritenour and his town selectmen have worked over the past three years to negotiate down the number of rental mopeds in the town by offering incentives for other rental licenses.

According to Mr. Whritenour, there were 238 rental moped licenses available in 2016. Those licenses were spread among four rental businesses in the town: Ride-On Mopeds, Kings Rentals, Island Hopper Rentals and Sun ‘n’ Fun Rentals. But in 2017, Sun ‘n’ Fun rentals traded in their moped licenses for car rentals, decreasing the total number by 40. Then, one year later, Ride-On Mopeds dropped from 100 rentals to 80.

Overall, the decrease accounts for a nearly 25 per cent reduction in moped rental licenses over the past three years. But while Mr. Whritenour sees fewer mopeds in the rearview mirror, he thinks the problem isn’t quite solved yet.

“Numbers have been down, and I think it’s evident on the street,” Mr. Whritenour said. “But it’s still an issue that we’re working on, it’s not going away. And if we have additional opportunities to lower the numbers any further we will leverage those.”

Despite the decrease in rental licenses, accident rates have not only remained steady, but have seen a slight increase the past three years. According to data provided by the Dukes County Communications Center, there were 10 reported moped accidents from May 1 to Sept. 19, 2017. During the same period in 2018 there were nine accidents. This past summer, 13 moped accidents were reported.

Katrina Delgadillo, a spokesman for the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, said while she did not have exact numbers, there were not many patients who came through the emergency room with moped-related injuries this past year.

“It’s minimal. We have a lot more injuries related to bicycles than related to mopeds,” Ms. Delgadillo said. “That just what I get whenever I pull the records from the ER.”

Heather Arpin, a spokesman for the communications center, said an accident qualifies as anything that involves an injury or a damaged moped. But the communications center also receives data on complaints, which are calls about erratic driving, or anything where a rider of a moped is perceived to be doing something illegal or dangerous, including driving without a helmet.

Those numbers tell a slightly different story. While there were 25 complaints about mopeds in 2017, there were only 19 during that same period in 2018. This past summer, there were only 11 complaints. Ms. Arpin declined to speculate on what could account for the decrease.

Former Chilmark police chief Tim Rich, who has helped spearhead a grassroots movement to pass a home-rule petition that would ban rental mopeds in Oak Bluffs, said the continued presence of moped accidents heightens the need for legislation at the state level.

“It’s not about the numbers,” Mr. Rich said.

But that legislation remains stalled, even after Oak Bluffs voters unanimously approved the home rule petition at their annual town meeting in 2018. Although the bill received initial enthusiasm, it languished and then died during a final procedural step in the state house of representatives later that year. And while Rep. Dylan Fernandes and state Sen. Julian Cyr have now co-sponsored identical legislation for the new legislative session, a hearing on the bill was scheduled for the same day as the Oak Bluffs town meeting and was subsequently postponed.

“The bill is still in the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government,” Island legislative liaison Kaylea Moore said in an email. “The hearing date has not been rescheduled.”

Mr. Whritenour said the bill has seen backlash from the transportation industry amid fears it could set a precedent for the local prohibition of certain vehicles, like mopeds or scooters.

“Unfortunately it has encountered pushback from industry sources, or people who don’t want the town to have that type of authority,” Mr. Whritenour said. “We’re obviously hopeful the bill passes.”

During the most recent legislative filing session, a Boston lobbying firm, CK Strategies, LLC, was hired by John Leone to represent King’s Rentals in opposition to “all legislative and executive matters concerning the rental of mopeds and motor scooters,” according to public disclosure statements filed with the Secretary of State’s office. Mr. Leone paid the lobbying firm $3,000 for its work between Jan. 1 and June 31 of this year.

King’s Rentals also spent another $3,000 lobbying against the previous iteration of the home-rule petition, from July until December of 2018, according to disclosures from the Secretary of State.

Mr. Rich said outside the lobbying efforts, state legislators appear to have lost enthusiasm for the home-rule petition. He believes that it is still the most necessary measure to curb mopeds.

“This is what has been needed all along, and my sense is that they don’t see this as a priority and they’re just going on to get along,” Mr. Rich said of the lawmakers. “I fear this could die a natural death buried in six committees.” Mike Tierney, who manages all three moped rental operations in Oak Bluffs, declined to comment on the number or status of moped rentals until the official end of his season, on Oct. 14. He did say that his businesses have focused their energy on safety. By law, renters are required to wear helmets, and the companies themselves require renters to take multiple rides around the harbor before being authorized for their rentals.

“We’re trying to comply, do everything by the book and do everything correctly,” Mr. Tierney said.

For Mr. Rich, the issue is personal. His son was involved in a fatal moped accident three years ago, and Mr. Rich said his son still cannot drive near the spot where it occurred up-Island. He added that one accident is too many.

“You still walk off the ferry in Oak Bluffs you’d think that they were a safe and viable form of transportation on Martha’s Vineyard,” he said. “It’s like the lambs being led to slaughter.”