Even the most cynical among us would have to laud the success of this year’s pedestrian safety campaign in Ocean City. The statistics were reviewed this week, and they are nothing short of impressive.
Overall, pedestrian accidents were down 39 percent in Ocean City. Identified problem areas also saw reductions, including 40th to 62nd streets that saw five accidents this season compared to 12 last year, and south of 40th Street to the Inlet, 14 this year compared to 23. The tally for north of 62nd Street to the Delaware line held steady.
It’s difficult to cheer accident tallies of any consequence, but the fact is these are major decreases from a general perspective and the public safety effort as well as the infrastructure changes implemented deserve credit for making that happen.
Sure, some will say the wet weather during some stretches of the summer limited pedestrian volume as well as the fact crowds were down in general in Ocean City this summer, but I would argue the areas targeted this summer and labeled as problem areas were not impacted by those factors. There was still a high volume of pedestrians along the highway, particularly during the evening hours.
While this may seem cold, I look at pedestrian accidents as inevitable in Ocean City. There are a unique set of circumstances in Ocean City that combine to make for an unsafe place at times unless extreme caution is used. With common sense dulled by vacation tendencies, alcohol often impairing judgment and the limited infrastructure improvements available, the chance of accidents occurring among vehicles and pedestrians will always be high in Ocean City. That’s an inescapable fact.
Despite the uphill climb with lots to overcome, the end result from this summer was a huge increase in safety on resort roadways for pedestrians and vehicles. The numbers do not lie, and the agencies involved deserve credit for achieving a difference. The challenge will now be continuing this trend into the foreseeable future, and there is a story in this week’s paper about more infrastructure improvements planned for this off-season.
A bevy of new laws take effect on July 1 and Oct. 1 each year, and there are a couple involving driving to take note of before the end of the month.
The most high profile one involves cops now being able to pull over motorists spotted using hand-held cell phones while driving. Previously, it was a secondary offense, meaning officers who noticed someone driving and texting or talking on the phone could not pull the driver over just for that offense. Now if a cop sees a motorist at a stop sign talking on the phone or texting, that person can be pulled over and fined. The first-time offense is $75.
Another law change involves one that I already thought was a requirement — that all passengers in a vehicle must be retrained by a seat belt. Apparently, the law only applies currently to the driver and front-seat passenger. Now all passengers must be bucked up or be fined $50.
The concept of a Mid-Atlantic Amateur Sports Alliance being formed between Worcester and Wicomico counties and Ocean City is currently being discussed among tourism and government officials.
This week the concept was in the news, as Wicomico is looking to cement a contractual relationship with the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) that will allow the county to apply for and accept funds to be spent on attracting and retaining amateur sports tournament and similar types of events.
The best example of this partnership working out of late was over the summer when the USSSA Girls World Series was held across the lower shore. At one point during the event, thousands of softball players converged on the Inlet in July for the opening of a leg of the multi-age event. The economic impact on the shore was considerable, and some retailers and hoteliers in Ocean City reported a bump from the event attendees as well.
This sort of partnership is an obvious direction to head, but surely there are details to be worked out. Most businesses in Ocean City feel significant impacts when youth sports are being held at Northside Park. The multiple-weekend soccer tournaments held in March are a prime example as well as the lacrosse tourneys held each summer at the facility.
The Ocean City Mayor and Council will soon weigh in on the partnership concept and that’s when more details will be known about what exactly this alliance will entail and what it could mean across the lower shore. Conceptually, it seems like a sound direction because the entire business community benefits from these large-scale youth sports events.
It was nearly impossible to escape the unmistakable roar of the bikers last weekend. I have no idea if the 200,000 bikers reported to be in the area is an accurate tally or not, but I can report you could hear the roar of the bikes from everywhere. Even the OSV area of Assateague Island was not immune from it.
I am looking forward to watching or taping the “Hotel Impossible” episode on Monday to see what transpired at the Lankford Hotel on 8th Street and the Boardwalk over the summer.
Several local faces should be featured on the show, including managers and owners of the old hotel as well as Joe Dashiell of Joseph T. Dashiell Builders, Inc., the main contractor for the work during the week-long project.
The show will air Monday at 10 p.m. on The Travel Channel.