OCEAN CITY – Prior to the peak tourist season in Ocean City, the State Highway Administration (SHA) has started a three-year pilot program using newly designed sidewalk markings to safely guide pedestrians along MD 528 (Coastal Highway).
The new yellow and black pedestrian sidewalk markings will be located 10 feet prior to the intersections at 19th, 33rd and 49th streets in order to direct pedestrians to safe crosswalks. The pilot program specifically addresses the dangerous behavior of jaywalking.
The population of Ocean City swells from June to August to such an extent that it becomes the second most populated city in the State. As a result, the nine-mile Coastal Highway corridor experiences dramatically increased pedestrian activity as well as vehicular traffic with most pedestrians and drivers unfamiliar with the area.
SHA traffic engineers examined pedestrian crash data for the past three years along Coastal Highway and determined the three locations at 19th, 33rd and 49th streets experienced the highest frequency of pedestrian incidents. Police reports reveal the primary cause of these crashes was failure of pedestrians to cross at marked crosswalks, or walking in a crosswalk against the traffic signal.
Efforts and programs to protect pedestrians are closely coordinated between SHA, the Town of Ocean City Public Works Department and the Ocean City Police Department.
“Overall crash fatalities are decreasing in Maryland, but pedestrian crashes have remained relatively unchanged with an average of 100 pedestrians dying each year. Together with our partners, we are taking a hard look at pedestrian safety issues along key corridors where pedestrian traffic volume is highest,” said Maryland State Highway District Engineer Donnie Drewer. “This new pilot project is another example of the innovative way engineering can help influence the behavior of our customers to make better, safer decisions.”
The new markings inform pedestrians that a marked crosswalk is just ahead and indicate the direction they should follow. The “thermoplastic” markings are the same material as stamped pavement crosswalks, not painted, which wears out faster. Each marking has a usable life of between 10 to 20 years, and cost approximately $150.
"Pedestrian safety is a priority for our community because people walk everywhere in Ocean City. They go to and from the beach and to the boardwalk,” said Police Chief Bernadette DiPino. “We remind citizens to push the button not your luck. Take a few extra seconds and walk to the closest crosswalk. It’s good for your heart, your health and your life."
In addition to monitoring pedestrian crash reports during the three-year pilot program, SHA and partners will observe pedestrian behavior at all three locations. SHA will determine if the new sidewalk pavement markings effectively reduce jaywalking and pedestrian incidents.