Ocean City Today

Resort tackles bike safety through grants, ordinances

Code change needed to make it illegal to pedal without reflectors on roads
By Katie Tabeling | Sep 21, 2017
Courtesy of: Ocean City Police Ocean City Police officers distributed $800 worth of bike lights to J-1 visa students in summer 2016. The city hopes that it can be done again in the future.

(Sept. 22, 2017) Ocean City officials are considering requiring lights on bicycles used at night, following the death last month of a cyclist who was struck by a car as she was riding early in the morning on Philadelphia Avenue.

Councilman Tony DeLuca proposed requiring bicycles to have front and rear lights when his “Green Team” committee met last Wednesday. Although the idea had been mentioned previously, DeLuca said the Aug. 30 crash that killed 21-year-old student Veronika Badurova of Slovakia made the matter a priority. Badurova died two days later at Peninsula Regional Medical Center.

“I want this expedited. I see it all the time while I’m driving — these guys are invisible,” he said. “The Wal-Mart reflectors don’t cut it anymore.”

Ocean City does require a white front light and a rear red reflector on bikes ridden on the highway at night. The bicycle light ordinance, which was made to conform to Maryland Law, says the front light must be visible from at least 500 feet and the rear reflector needs to be seen from a similar distance when directly in front of a car.

Ocean City Environmental Engineer Gail Blazer said since the ordinance says “highways,” the ordinance applies only to bicycles being ridden on Coastal Highway and Baltimore Avenue, which are state roads.

“It doesn’t say all streets, alleys or even city roads. We can make a recommendation to the Police Commission that we change the code language,” she said.

DeLuca also proposed looking into grant to help students and other cyclists to buy bright bike lights. In 2016, Ocean City Police used $800 of the State Highway Administration Highway grant to buy 60 lights for J-1 visa students.

He said the police helped by stopping cyclists and installing lights on bikes in need, and that he wants to repeat that initiative.

If someone doesn’t have [the lights] … we should pull them over and install it for them,” he said.

Last year, police also received a $2,000 donation to buy roughly 200 additional light sets. The bike lights were distributed again this year as part of a safety program.

Ocean City Police Public Affairs Specialist Lindsay Richard said the Patrol Division and Finance Administrator Martha Bennett will work with Grants Coordinator Wayne Pryor to find additional funding for more bike lights.

“Our officers can do their best to enforce and cite individuals without bike lights, but then we are just creating another problem for the citizens,” Richard said. “Having the ability to provide bike lights will solve the problem.”

Once the funding is secured, OCPD would want to continue last year’s tactic of installing bike lights instead of issuing fines. Richard said police would consider taking a more proactive approach.

“We may also consider holding bike safety events to distribute lights,” she said. “We are still brainstorming other effective ways to distribute bike lights and promote bike safety.”


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