(June 7, 2019) With another summer season upon us, Ocean City emergency responders are on full alert for any and all accidents, but also caution walkers and bikers to do their part and remain alert to the deluge of traffic in the resort during warm weather.
Jessica Waters, Ocean City communications manager, said with the resort topping the quarter million mark on many warm weather weekends, navigating the traffic can be challenging.
Still, as much as those behind the wheel must be conscious of pedestrians and bicyclists, those traveling on two feet or two wheels are also expected to exercise good sense when traveling the roadways.
Waters said 50,000 or more vehicles travel Coastal Highway daily during the peak tourist season and share roads with thousands of pedestrians and hundreds of bicyclists.
Waters said the danger is real when bicyclists run red lights or ride in the wrong direction.
To address the never-ending issue of summertime traffic congestion, Waters said the city has an ongoing safety campaign.
The Ocean City Walk Smart, Bike Smart and Drive Smart campaign combines engineering, education and enforcement to save lives and prevent injuries, Waters said.
The constantly revolving tourist audience adds another layer of difficulty to the public awareness campaign, she said.
Waters said essential safety directives include obeying red lights and stop signs, bicycling in the same direction as traffic and avoiding riding on sidewalks, which is illegal.
Additionally, Waters stressed the importance of only riding when sober, and advised avoiding distractions to maintain full focus while on roadways.
Waters said bicyclists should not carry items that prevent both hands from maintaining contact with handlebars, such as operating cell phones, and advised against wearing earbuds to remain alert to audible cues in the environment.
If riding at night, bikes are required to be equipped with lights, white in front and red in back, Waters said.
To drive the point home, in a softer way, the resort has employed the services of Cheswick the Lifeguard Crab as the official pedestrian and bicycle safety ambassador for the OC Walk Smart, Drive Smart, Bike Smart campaign.
Waters said the intent is to help residents and visitors reach the beach safely and stay safe while forming, hopefully, positive memories in Ocean City.
The public safety messaging campaign is produced through a partnership between the Town of Ocean City, Ocean City Police Department and the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration, along with local businesses and agencies.
Waters said adherence to road rules is vital for everyone’s safety, with the end goal to have visitors
“We want people to leave town in their cars not in a helicopter,” she said.