Resort Officials Will Consider Mandatory Bike Light Ordinance

OCEAN CITY – An Ocean City committee will bring forth a proposed ordinance change on bike light requirements to the Mayor and Council at a work session later this month.

In a Coastal Resources Legislative Committee, or the Green Team, meeting Wednesday, Gail Blazer, the town’s environmental engineer, relayed ongoing efforts to amend an ordinance that would mandate lights on all bikes traveling along all roadways in Ocean City.

Blazer said the town currently has an ordinance that requires lights on bikes traveling along highways, but the ordinance does not include roadways, alleys, streets or bike paths.

The mission of the bike light initiative is to amend the ordinance and supply the Ocean City Police Department with lights that will be given to bikers who violate the ordinance.

Councilman Tony DeLuca, liaison for the Green Team, questioned if the city should first pass a revised ordinance or seek funding for bike light purchases.

“My question to the group is do we want to pass the ordinance or do we source the lights and figure out the dollars,” he said.

Blazer encouraged the committee to bring the ordinance change before the Mayor and Council.

“I think we should just go ahead and get that done,” she said.

Blazer said she has tentatively arranged for the Green Team to present the proposed ordinance change and bike light initiative to the Mayor and Council at a work session in November.

“We can talk about it in a work session Nov. 20 and ask the council to present it Dec. 4 for a first reading …,” she said. “We’ll pass it just to change the wording.”

DeLuca said the following step would be to acquire funding for the bike lights.

“It’s something we really need here,” he said. “It’s something I would not like the city to pay for, of course. It’s something that if you are in violation of this ordinance and the police stop you, your fine is we put them on your bike.”

DeLuca said funding would need to cover the cost of outfitting thousands of bikes. He explained that 75 percent of the resort’s 4,000 J-1 visa students ride bikes in town each year.

“I have [Grants Coordinator] Wayne Pryor working on grant money,” he said. “I’d love to get grant money, but he sent me an email today that wasn’t good news.”

Public Works Director Hal Adkins said most of the resort’s J-1 students purchase their bikes at the nearby Walmart and suggested the Green Team reach out to the retailer.

DeLuca said Walmart could attach lights to the bikes and sell both products together.

“You are buying a bike with it already on there,” he said.

Blazer said the Green Team could also reach out to civic organizations in the area for financial support.

“This is just for this year,” she said. “It’s not going to be every year.”

DeLuca said the police department was also eager to support the initiative.

“Last year the police department got $800 (to do this) and they said they ran out really fast when they started putting them on bikes,” he said.

While the agency could not supply funding for the lights this year, DeLuca said the police were willing to install the lights.

“They want to be a part of it,” he said.

Blazer told the committee bike lights would be purchased after funding is secured.

“Once we get the money we can determine how elaborate we get,” she said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.