One of the takeaways from this week’s press conference on the OC Walk Smart initiative was Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan’s call for police to crack down on enforcement.
Although the costumed crab character used as a symbol of the safety initiative is silly, there’s nothing lighthearted about the fact many people take their lives into their own hands when they ignore pedestrian and bicycle laws in Ocean City. It’s a miracle more people are not seriously injured or killed on Ocean City’s roadways considering the massive volume of vehicles, bikes and pedestrians.
At this week’s largely feel good conference, Meehan’s message to police to crack down with tickets on jaywalking violators and other law breakers stood out. The idea being people need to be held accountable for their actions, which in many cases put themselves and other innocent bystanders in harm’s way. Unfortunately, as history indicates, these indiscretions can often have tragic consequences.
“We’re encouraging our police department to write tickets and enforce the laws so we can send a strong message,” Meehan said. “This will save lives. Let them know we’re going to hold them accountable,” Meehan said.
Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro, while reporting increased pedestrian safety details for this summer, said, “We’re going to educate those who choose to unsafely cross Coastal Highway. Accountability is the key and we’re going to do that. Every time the rules are followed prevents a tragedy.”
The Walk Smart campaign is centered on the three “E’s” — engineering, education and enforcement. These three work together with the goal of providing the safest infrastructure as possible merging with the need for knowledge of the dangers of crossing roads improperly and biking haphazardly to be imparted on visitors, many of whom may have never come here before.
With the engineering and education components in place, there needs to be a means to enforce existing laws should there be poor decision making. There’s no point in having pedestrian and biking laws and spending millions of dollars on infrastructure enhancement without a commitment to enforcement.
The time to commit to issuing citations to jaywalkers is now. The fact is many people cross against the light and outside of the crosswalk because they are lazy. Most, in our opinion, know it’s against the law and unsafe but they do it anyway. That has to stop.
If simply remaining safe is not reason enough, we need to make the financial penalty not worth the risk. The time for warnings has passed.