Ocean City Today

City struggling to keep bikes off Coastal Hwy. this season

Bicycle rack plan for buses deemed impractical, while rider path idea still stalled
By Katie Tabeling | Jun 29, 2017

(June 30, 2017) Bicycle racks affixed to Ocean City’s buses is an idea whose time may never come, as resort officials earlier this month killed a proposal that would see them installed by summer 2018.

At its June 13 meeting, the Transportation Commission declined to proceed with a proposed bike rack plan, since the racks would cost $240 each. That would add $2,160 to the purchase cost of nine additional buses that Public Works Director Hal Adkins ordered for next season.

The idea for the bicycle racks was inspired by Adkins’s efforts to bring bikers off the roads and onto the buses for safety reasons last fall. Notably, the commission discussed it in connection to the J-1 visa students, many of whom rent bicycles to use as a mode of transportation.

According to estimates from United Work and Travel, 1,200 students in 2016 were living in West Ocean City and biked over the Route 50 bridge to work and back.

Adkins explained at the Transportation Commission meeting that bike racks were also incorporated into the Park-N-Ride in West Ocean City.

Roughly 35 J-1 students were taken to Atlantic General Hospital last year because of injuries from bike accidents.

“When we built the Park-N-Ride in the 1990s, we had eight buses that went there and back with bike and luggage racks, but we found there wasn’t much demand,” he said. “But years down the road, there could be a renewed interest in them.”

Adkins said there were three types of bike riders in Ocean City: athletes, recreational bikers and those that use the bike for transportation. The latter covers the J-1 students. The way he saw it, the former two categories would not use the buses, but the students could find the bike racks useful.

The city officials on the committee were not fans of the proposal of a limited number of buses with the equipment.

“I just don’t see a practical use,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “If you put your bike on a bus rack and go somewhere, when you’re ready to go back, you’d have to wait for another bus equipped with a rack to come along.”

“It’d only work if you do the entire fleet,” Councilman Dennis Dare added. “If you bike down to the Boardwalk in the morning, you might have to wait until 3 p.m. to get a bus equipped with a rack.”

Councilman Tony DeLuca, who champions the idea of building a continuous bike path on the resort’s side streets, thought the bus-mounted bike racks conflicted with his plans.

“It goes against our message about getting bikes off Coastal Highway. We’ve done all this work on the path, and now we’re talking about putting bikes back on the road,” DeLuca said.

Unanimously, the commission agreed to remove the bike rack request from the bus order.

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