OCEAN CITY – Ocean City’s “Lights for Bikes” program received praise from the town’s Coastal Resources Legislative Committee last week.
Since last year, the Coastal Resources Legislative Committee, or Green Team, has actively sought grant funding to initiate a program that distributes and installs bicycle lights free of charge.
The idea of the “Lights for Bikes” program is that visible lighting attached to bikes would make traveling along the resort’s major corridors safer for bicyclists, including the many J-1 visa students who bike to and from work during the summer months.
“If you are on the road at night and you don’t have a light on your bike, the police will pull you over and your ticket or fine is they install a light for free right on the spot,” said Councilman and Green Team Chair Tony DeLuca.
Last week, Gail Blazer, the town’s environmental engineer, told the committee the program had received funding from various sources, including the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association, businesses and residents, to name a few.
“We’re getting money in right and left,” she said, “and we’re going after some more.”
Beginning in March, the Ocean City Police Department began distributing bike lights, and last month, with the help of additional funding from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, the program was expanded to five resort fire stations.
DeLuca informed committee members last week that both the police department and the fire stations have distributed all of their bike lights.
“It really has been amazing,” he said.
DeLuca explained that the town will continue to seek support from area businesses and organizations to continue the program. He said the local Wal-Mart store, where many J-1 visa students purchase their bikes, will consider a grant to further the “Lights for Bikes” initiative.
“This has really taken off,” he said.
DeLuca said the town will continue to distribute bike lights throughout the summer season. On Wednesdays through June 27, for example, bicycle lights will be made available at the City Hall gazebo from 10 a.m. to noon.
“The real way to get them to the J-1 students and the people is to put one on the bike,” he said. “That’s where we are.”
Melanie Purcel, executive director of the Greater Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, commended the program. She said the bike lights will be used to keep thousands of resort workers safe throughout the season.
“There are over 4,000 international students that come over, and we have upwards of 12,000 seasonal employees in Ocean City,” she said. “Even if a fraction of them ride their bikes to and from work, it gives you a snapshot from a workforce standpoint.”
Blazer said the town is looking for ways to make the “Lights for Bikes” program sustainable.
“We don’t want it to be a one-year thing,” she said. “We want to try and figure out how to do this next year.”