OCEAN CITY – A discussion on the work to be performed in the development of a bicycling strategic plan highlighted a resort committee meeting this week.
On Wednesday, the Ocean City Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee began its review of the scope of work to be included in the development of a strategic plan that will be used to further the town’s bicycle network.
“This is a good whiteboard meeting for developing our scope of work for the project,” Committee President Paul Mauser said. “It’s a pretty big deal. We have $80,000 to hire a consultant and come up with the best plan we can for the town. This protects everyone visiting town and biking in town.”
In October, the town was awarded $79,700 through the Maryland Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Kim Lamphier Bikeways Network Program to hire a consultant for the development of a strategic plan.
In recent years, the town embarked on a multi-phased initiative to install a continuous bike route from one end of Ocean City to the other without using Coastal Highway and other busy thoroughfares. And by and large, the resort has succeeded in using side streets, alleys, parking lots and more.
Now, with funding to develop a strategic plan, officials said the town will have a document that outlines designs and cost estimates for proposed biking corridors.
“The corridors we’re really looking at are the town alleys, Coastal Highway, the 10-foot construction easement along condo row, 94th Street and the Delaware connector …,” Mauser said this week. “Probably one of the biggest outcomes of this would be the town alleys. I think that’s the low-hanging fruit here. We want to give the town the most bang for our buck, and it’s the most realistic outcome for the project.”
Council Secretary and committee liaison Tony DeLuca, however, noted the challenges of installing a continuous bike path between 94th and 118th streets, which feature several condominium buildings.
“The condo associations need to approve it,” he explained. “In order to do that, they need two-thirds vote of the owners and 100% of the mortgage company. That’s a tall hurdle.”
To that end, committee members said the strategic plan could explore creative solutions, such as the use of the 10-foot construction easement to the west of the dunes.
“The 10-foot construction easement is an area immediately west of the primary dune,” Mauser said. “Once you are on the west side of the dune, you have a 10-foot lane there that the Army Corps of Engineers specifically designated for emergency vehicles, maintenance vehicles and for public recreational access to the beach.”
Committee members added that the strategic plan could also explore ways to make Coastal Highway safer for biking. However, State Highway Administration Assistant District Engineer Jana Potvin said that a dedicated bike lane could call for road reductions.
“Something has to give, essentially, to have that,” she said.
Mauser agreed, saying, “It seems like that ship has sailed … I can’t see how that would happen.”
DeLuca added that his priority was to get bikes off Coastal Highway.
“I always thought the closer you got to the beach, the safer you are,” he said. “The closer you are to Coastal Highway, the more dangerous it is when you are on a bike.”
BPAC members spent most of this week’s meeting reviewing the scope of work for the strategic planning project, which will be publicly bid through the town’s procurement department later this year.