OCEAN CITY – Citing enforcement and safety concerns, a resort committee this week made a recommendation to keep bicycle start times on the Boardwalk at 2 a.m.
The recommendation, made by members of the Ocean City Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC), now moves on to the full Mayor and Council for discussion and possible action.
“I don’t think we are adamantly opposed to it,” Committee President Paul Mauser said. “But it’s just that this year it doesn’t seem right.”
Earlier this month, a discussion on amending the start time for allowing bikes on the Boardwalk was brought to the Mayor and Council’s attention.
Currently, bikes are allowed on the Boardwalk from 2 a.m. to noon from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Prior to a change this month by the Mayor Council, except for last summer when there was no tram operation, the end time for riding bikes on the boards during the summer was 11 a.m. The council voted to push back the tram start time this summer to allow for an additional biking hour.
However, the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC), through its Boardwalk committee, has proposed an earlier start time to allow seasonal workers to bike home along the Boardwalk before 2 a.m.
“The discussion came up that at nighttime, with businesses closing earlier the last couple of years, would it make sense to move the 2 a.m. time up earlier,” OCDC Executive Director Glenn Irwin told committee members on Wednesday. “It had nothing to do with bike business or anything like that, but it had to do with employees getting home … and would it be better for them to bike a couple streets home on a well-lit Boardwalk as opposed to an alley.”
Irwin said the Boardwalk committee’s initial recommendation was to move the bike start time from 2 a.m. to midnight. Since that time, however, the OCDC board has proposed a 1 a.m. start time for the coming summer.
“I think the consensus was 1 a.m., not midnight, primarily to do it as a test year and see how it goes,” Irwin said. “There’s so many uncertainties about what this summer is going to be all about — how many J-1’s are going to be here? Are the businesses going to continue to keep closing earlier?”
Councilman Tony DeLuca, committee chair, tasked committee members with making a recommendation this week. He said the council needed to make a decision soon in order for new signs to be made.
“This Tuesday, during our work session, it needs to be done,” he said.
DeLuca said Mayor Rick Meehan opposed the earlier start time, as it would place more burden on police officers patrolling the Boardwalk and enforcing the town’s ordinances. When asked for his opinion this week, committee member Sgt. Allen Hawk said it was a policy decision that required the input of the police chief and command staff.
“During that specific time, you have more serious crimes that happen after midnight,” he added. “With that being dealt with, you also have us dealing with the possibility of additional municipal infractions that we have to enforce as well.”
DeLuca also shared his concerns regarding crowds and density.
“The Boardwalk’s still busy at those late hours,” he said. “It’s not like there’s nobody up there.”
“We were busy on the Boardwalk last year, even after midnight,” Hawk told committee members. “I can’t predict the future with a crystal ball, what’s going to happen, but I can only surmise that it’s probably not going to be too far off what that was.”
After further discussion, the committee voted 5-2, with members Mary Wiedorfer and Irwin opposed, to recommend keeping the bike start time at 2 a.m. Hawk abstained from voting.
“Let’s revisit it next year …,” DeLuca said. “I want to see how this year goes.”