OCEAN CITY — It has already been established bicycles will be allowed on the Boardwalk until noon this year, but the concept of allowing them to start earlier in the morning has gained little traction.
In March, the Mayor and Council approved a proposal to move the stop time for bicycles on the Boardwalk from 11 a.m. to noon. The measure left the allowable hours for bikes on the Boardwalk from 2 a.m. to noon. However, the Ocean City Development Corporation (OCDC) had proposed moving the start time for bikes on the Boardwalk back from 2 a.m. to sometime earlier, perhaps midnight or at least 1 a.m.
The concept is to allow employees to commute home from their jobs on bicycles on a well-lit Boardwalk rather than on the city streets and alleys. The OCDC pitched the idea to the town’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) and also in a letter to the Mayor and Council.
“The OCDC Board recommends for the 2021 summer season, the bicycle hours on the Boardwalk to be moved up from 2 a.m.,” the letter reads. “We believe, due to the fact Boardwalk businesses are closing earlier in the evening each summer, that it would be appropriate that the evening bike hours be moved earlier to allow for Boardwalk employees to use a well-lighted Boardwalk to bike home. The current situation is for them to use the darker alleys and Baltimore Avenue to bike home after their work.”
During Tuesday’s work session, Council Secretary and BPAC chair Tony DeLuca explained the request to alter the Boardwalk bike hours to the full Mayor and Council. He outlined the highlights of the letter from OCDC Executive Director Glenn Irwin.
“Glenn reviewed with the committee a proposal to move up the Boardwalk biking hours from 2 a.m. to 1 a.m.,” he said. “The reason for this suggestion was to allow the employees of businesses to utilize the more well-lit Boardwalk for commuting home after work. Allowing employees to use the Boardwalk provides an apparent safer solution than utilizing alleys, Baltimore Avenue or Philadelphia Avenue.”
DeLuca said the BPAC raised concerns about adding bicycles to the mix in what is often a challenging time for law enforcement on the Boardwalk in the early morning hours, particularly in June. He said the BPAC ultimately voted 5-2 to keep the Boardwalk biking hours from 2 a.m. to noon.
“The committee also discussed that the bikers using the Boardwalk at these hours may potentially be put in harm’s way given the concerning situations that occurred on the Boardwalk late at night in the summer of 2020,” he said. The proposal may also entail enforcement concerns.”
Councilman John Gehrig asked a question about what is typically going on at the Boardwalk at 2 a.m.
“Can I ask a question about the bike issue?” he said. “How busy is the Boardwalk at 2 a.m.?”
Council President Matt James said the situation varies from month to month, and even week to week.
“It depends,” he said. “In July and August, probably not very busy. In June, it was very busy.”
Mayor Rick Meehan said moving the Boardwalk biking hours earlier could create headaches for the often already-taxed Ocean City Police Department (OCPD)
“I think with the OCPD it creates another thing to enforce,” he said. “We don’t need something else to enforce this year with all of the other issues and the other enforcements we’re going through. They’re trying to bring some order up there and they don’t need something else to enforce. We can revisit this after the summer.”