OC Approves North-End Biking Changes

OCEAN CITY — In an effort to continue progress in making Ocean City more bicycle-friendly, resort officials this week approved changes to two sections in the north end of the resort.

Ocean City officials have been exploring ways to enhance alternative means of transportation in the resort with conceptual plans for new bike route alignments. One of the major goals is to minimize the need for bicycles to co-mingle and interact with cars, buses and trucks on the resort’s major roadways including Coastal Highway, Philadelphia Avenue and Baltimore Avenue, for example.

Longtime locals know there are several ways to travel from one end of the resort to the other on bicycle by avoiding the major roadways for the most part, from side streets to alleys to private property parking lots, but resort officials are seeking ways to enhance and improve those unofficial bicycle routes. To that end, the Transportation Committee last week reviewed two areas in the north end of the resort slated for enhanced bicycle lane improvements. On Monday, the Mayor and Council got their first look at the proposal and approved the changes.

The first is Sinepuxent Ave., which roughly runs parallel to Coastal Highway from the Delaware line to Montego Bay. City Engineer Terry McGean explained Sinepuxent Avenue currently has a 60-foot right-of-way with two, 16-foot travel lanes and five-foot sidewalks. The proposal for Sinepuxent includes reducing the width of the travel lanes from 16 feet to 11 feet, allowing for the creation of a five-foot wide designated and marked bike path along the length of the roadway.

Another significant change approved for Sinepuxent Avenue is reducing the number of stop signs along the roadway. Currently, there is a stop sign at every single numbered street, creating a stop and start route for bicyclists, and motorists, for that matter. The proposal calls for eliminating many of the stop signs along the north-south corridor.
“We’d like to change the stop sign configuration on Sinepuxent,” said McGean. “Right now, there is a stop sign at every numbered street. If you watch bicyclists, and even vehicles, a lot of them are running through the signs. We’d like to keep the stop signs on Sinepuxent only on the streets that align with traffic signals on Coastal Highway.”

Another section under consideration was Jamaica Avenue, which runs north-south for four blocks in the area of Northside Park.

“Nobody parks on the west side of Jamaica Avenue,” said McGean. “If we get rid of that parking lane, we could use the space to get two striped bike lanes.”

However, transportation committee members last week voiced concern about losing the parking in an area that hosts so many special events.

“Under this proposal, 100 parking spaces, plus or minus, would go away,” said Mayor Rick Meehan. “That’s a lot of parking for Northside Park where we host a lot of special events like sports tournaments and Sundaes in the Park, for example.”

McGean said the alternative is retaining the parking areas along the west side of Jamaica Avenue, but that wouldn’t allow for a designated bike path along the roadway.

The Transportation Committee voted to forward a favorable recommendation to the council on the proposed changes for Sinepuxent Avenue, but voted to retain the parking on Jamaica Avenue near Northside Park and not create a designated bike path along that corridor. On Monday, the Mayor and Council approved the changes to Sinepuxent Avenue and the installation of “Share the Road” signs for Jamaica Avenue.

In a related issue, the Transportation Committee agreed on language for a letter to certain property owners requesting an easement to create flexible bike lanes across private property such as hotel or condo or shopping center parking lots.