OCEAN CITY — While there were the typical complaints regarding noise and traffic, resort officials this week said OC BikeFest last week was a success and the new ordinance on trailer and oversized vehicle parking certainly appeared to achieve the desired results.
Over 150,000 motorcyclists roared into the resort starting mid-week last week for OC BikeFest, bringing with them the requisite noise and traffic. The event, criticized in some circles, also put thousands of heads in beds and patrons in restaurant seats and had a direct impact on Ocean City’s room tax and sales tax bottom line.
It’s a fine line tiptoed by the resort, which continues to strive for an improved quality of life for its residents and visitors, while helping to balance the books on the back of offseason special events. While there was the typical criticism of some facets of the event, Mayor Rick Meehan said this week OC BikeFest largely went off without a hitch.
“We had a very busy weekend and I think it went extremely well,” he said on Monday. “I think the police department had a good plan in place and I thank you for that. I don’t know of any serious incidents and with all of the people in town and all of the motorcycles, I think it went very well. The extra police presence certainly helped us.”
Meehan was referring to the Ocean City Police Department calling in needed reserves from outside sources during Bike Week. With BikeFest in the books and Endless Summer Cruisin’ and the H2O International Car Show still on the fall calendar, the OCPD has reached an agreement with a handful of allied law enforcement agencies in the area to assist the department as the town’s population swells during the otherwise quiet shoulder seasons.
While the participants are generally well behaved with a few exceptions, the summer-like crowds require more policing. However, by the time the special events roll around each fall, the majority of the OCPD’s seasonal staff has left, creating staffing challenges for the department and necessitating extra help from outside agencies.
In response to a citizen complaint about the use of taxpayer money to help subsidize the special event, Meehan said the public investment in the private event came back to the town in spades and reminded the public of offseason weekends before the special events.
“There is a significant return on investment from BikeFest in terms of occupancy rates and the expenditures associated with the event,” he said. “It’s far and above what it was before we had this special event.”
One issue that bore close scrutiny during last weekend’s OC BikeFest was the new ordinance governing parking regulations for trailers and other oversized vehicles on city streets. The ordinance changes were borne out of a particularly troublesome spring Cruisin’ event last year when residents complained of trailers and other oversized vehicles parked along main thoroughfares and side streets, taking up vast areas of street parking in some cases and causing traffic obstructions in others.
Boiled down to its simplest terms, the new ordinance allows only registered participants in the special events, including OC BikeFest next week, to park trailers on public streets from May 1 to Oct. 31 after purchasing a permit from the event organizer and affixing the associated sticker to their trailers. The permits cost $50 and apply only to the event prior to or during which they are purchased. In other words, they aren’t cumulative for the rest of the vehicle-related special events in the resort throughout the year.
While many followed through with the acquisition of the requisite permit, quite a few either flaunted the new law or didn’t entirely understand it. The number of citations for illegal parking of trailers and other oversized vehicles was somewhat surprising. According to the OCPD, 133 citations were written from Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 15-18.