OCEAN CITY – Ocean City did not receive a Bicycle Friendly Community designation this year, but earned an honorable mention for its efforts.
In August, the town submitted its application to become a Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC), a national designation program spearheaded by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) to honor cities and towns taking steps to develop bikeable communities.
Late last month, however, officials in Ocean City learned the town did not secure a Bicycle Friendly Community designation in the Fall 2019 cohort. Instead, the resort earned an honorable mention for its efforts.
Communities that earn an honorable mention are recognized for starting efforts to address the need of bicyclists in their community, according to the League’s website. They often have popular shared-use paths, community-wide bicycling events, or recent bicycle planning processes.
Over 100 communities that originally earned an honorable mention have gone on to be awarded a bronze designation or better in the BFC program.
Paul Mauser, president of the resort’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, said the League will issue a report card that will provide action steps the town will need to complete to receive a BFC designation.
“Out of the 12 first-time applicants in the Fall 2019 round, only 5 received a Bicycle Friendly Community Award all at the Bronze level,” he wrote. “The Town plans to review the ‘Report Card’ that will be provided by the League of American Bicyclists (LAB) and take the necessary steps to improve and become recognized as a BFC.”
For Ocean City, the BFC designation aligns with its efforts to establish a continual bike route along the resort’s side streets and minimize the need for bicycles to interact with vehicles on major roadways throughout town.
Since Mauser first presented the program to resort leaders last year, officials have taken necessary steps to achieve the BFC designation. They argued the designation could enhance the town’s ability to secure grants for bike-friendly projects, as well as benefit tourism and the town’s reputation as a green community.
But gaining entrance into the program is challenging.
Since the creation of the BFC program in 1995, the League has processed more than 1,500 community applications. To date, 488 have been recognized as Bicycle Friendly Communities and nearly 100 have earned an honorable mention.
Mauser said he is hoping the report card will be released ahead of the next Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee meeting on Dec. 11 so members can discuss the results.