Advisory Group Outlines Bike, Pedestrian Goals

OCEAN CITY – Connecting a bike route at the Maryland-Delaware line, securing grant funds to develop a bike masterplan and completing an application for a Bicycle Friendly Community designation are just a few of the things a resort committee hopes to accomplish in the coming year.

Since their first meeting in August, members of the Ocean City Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee have focused their efforts on several initiatives that would better position the town to become a bikable community.

In a meeting last month, committee President Paul Mauser reflected on the group’s success in passing policies and completing several action items since the summer.

In its five meetings, for example, the committee has developed GIS maps outlining existing and potential bike routes and data on bike collisions, created a resolution for a Complete Streets Policy – which was adopted by the Mayor and Council in November – and established a solution for a bike route between 60th and 64th streets, among other things.

“I wanted to reflect on what was accomplished in 2018 by this committee,” he said. “So often we push forward to the next item and the next item that you don’t really take the time to reflect on what you actually completed.”

He added that the town’s new Complete Streets policy – which allows the town to incorporate safe and accessible transportation systems for bicyclists and pedestrians during the construction, reconstruction or resurfacing of public roadways – has already led to promising opportunities for the town.

“There is a private utility company that is planning to install some fiber infrastructure in town and they are considering installing it on our existing 10-foot alleyways,” he said. “They will be disturbing our roads, so we may try to work with them to possibly repave some of those allies … The opportunity is there for that. It is not a guarantee, but it’s at least something that is being considered right now.”

In addition to its progress, Mauser also highlighted the committee’s goals for the coming year.

“I think it’s prudent that we also consider what we want to see as our accomplishments looking ahead one year …” he said.

Mauser said he would like to see the group take steps to finance and develop a bike masterplan for the resort. He said the town did not receive an $80,000 grant it applied for earlier this year.

“That was not approved,” he said. “and we need to find another funding source.”

Mauser told the committee he also wanted to connect the town’s bike route with an existing bike route on Route 54 in Delaware.

“We’ll tie into Dukes Avenue, which is of course going to tie into Route 54 …,” he said. “That’s where we will be ending our bike route and transitioning to theirs and have a little bit of synergy between the jurisdictions.”

Mauser said completing some of the action plans for 2019 would put the town steps closer to pursuing a Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) designation. The national designation program provides guidance for cities and towns wishing to develop a bikeable community.

“There are still a number of items we still need to implement and that I would like to discuss with the committee … in order to ensure we get the designation the first time we apply,” he said.

While the program has two deadlines – one in February and another in August – Mauser said the town would apply for the latter. He explained the town would have to develop bike ridership data before that time.

“We need to actually perform a manual count or get some kind of a counter and count the ridership in town to prove we have 3,000 or 4,000 bikes a day,” he said.

State High Administration (SHA) representative Jana Potvin told the committee the agency could be of assistance. She noted the SHA collected data on bicycle and pedestrian movement at crosswalk signals in town.

“Whenever we do our signal counts we do movement counts of bikes and peds,” she said.

Councilman Tony DeLuca, who chairs the committee, said it would be beneficial to delay the application process to August.

“We’d be more buttoned up,” he said.

Mauser agreed.

“Plans to do things don’t go very far as opposed to ‘this is what we completed,’” he said.

Other action items on the committee’s list for 2019 include adding necessary signage for a portion of the bike route between 60th and 64th streets, supporting the construction of a hiker biker trail in West Ocean City, participating in a “Bike to Work” day and developing solutions to impediments along the bike route.

“I would like everyone for the next meeting to prioritize the top five,” DeLuca said. “I always think if you focus on three or four or five things it gets done.”

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.