(July 19, 2019) Members of the Ocean City Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee focused on increasing bike safety during a meeting last Tuesday, following reports of a Maryland woman who was killed after she was hit by a car while biking on Coastal Highway in South Bethany on July 4.
“No lights on her bike,” Councilman Tony DeLuca said. “It happened at 10 p.m. in Bethany, that’s close to home.”
There have been nine bike crashes total this year and four in June, a number lower than years previous.
However, out of the six crashes that occurred this year, four of them were the fault of the cyclist.
The issue seems to stem from a combination of three things: an influx of bikers, ignorance of rules of the road and a lack of bike light use.
During the summer, Ocean City receives a wave of J-1 students who are here to work and experience American culture. They often rely on the bikes for transportation, but often are not familiar with Maryland traffic laws, particularly when it comes to where they are allowed to bike.
It is illegal in the state of Maryland to ride a bike against the flow of traffic.
Biking against the flow of traffic is dangerous because motorists entering and leaving the roadway at intersections and driveways do not expect traffic to approach from the wrong direction, DeLuca said.
“Out of the nine collisions, seven were intersection related,” Ocean City Police Sgt. Allen Hawk said. “They included bicyclists riding the wrong direction, failing to stop for a red light and operating on the sidewalk and crosswalks.”
In addition, some of these cyclists are not using bike lights, despite biking during late hours.
To solve this issue, the committee began a “Lights on Bikes” campaign two years ago. Since then, it has given out over 4,000 lights.
The bike lights are not paid by taxpayers, but are donated by businesses, residents and grants, DeLuca said.
To increase safety, DeLuca said that there would be increased police involvement, and officers would begin to stop cyclists without lights at night and install them on the spot.
While the Bike Committee gives out bike lights throughout the season, cyclists may also stop by City Council or any police and fire station to grab one.
“Operators of bicycles are considered vehicles, and should operate like vehicles, obeying all posted regulatory signs, traffic signals, directional traffic and rules of the road,” Hawk said. “Also … bicyclists … please walk your bicycle while on the sidewalks.”