Safe Routes Scoop

Ocean City, New Jersey: Making Great Strides for Bicyclists and Pedestrians

 

The bicycle and pedestrian friendliness in Ocean City has been nourished by extensive involvement of groups such as the Ocean City Community Association, which has a Bicycle Advocacy Committee, and the Community Arts Project, which provided street art at intersections throughout the city, including a bike sculpture at Haven Avenue and 9th Street. Community donations flow from a variety of sources including the Community Arts Project, the Ocean City Board of Realtors, a local insurance agency, the police and firemen’s union locals, the Parent Teacher Association and local businesses.

 

Because of its tourist-oriented economy, Ocean City tries to assure that enforcement is not perceived as “anti-tourist.” Rather, “education is key,” said Sgt. Charles Simonson who supervises the Ocean City Police traffic safety unit. The bicycle and pedestrian campaign in Ocean City gained tragic impetus in July 2009 when college student Casey Feldman was struck and killed by a motorist while walking in a crosswalk on her way to work. Rattled by the tragedy, the community rallied around traffic safety as a focus of the city’s identity.

 

The police department has conducted pedestrian safety enforcement operations at the 15th Street and 29th Street intersections with Bay Avenue, making motorists more aware of pedestrians and enforcing

stopping at crosswalks. The unit has received help from seasonal officers and the Cape May County Sheriff’s Office to conduct the operations.

 

Pedestrian safety cards (see picture) and tourist education programs have been developed in preparation for the 2012 completion of the Route 52 Causeway project. Financing has been provided by the New Jersey Department of Transportation, Safe Routes to Transit and Safe Routes to School public funding, and private contributions.

 

Focusing on education and involving children has been key in fostering Ocean City’s bike friendly identity. Community events include a July 4th Bike Parade, which brings out roughly 1,500 children, and the South End Bike Parade, which draws between 700 to 800 children. These annual events have brought attention to Ocean City as a center of bicycling and encouraged children to support and practice these ideals. As Simonson noted, “by keeping children aware and bringing them out to events, you attract their parents as well.” The city also holds bicycling events such as the MS Bike-a-Thon with over 7,000 participants, and the Family End-to-End Bike Tour on Earth Day. In addition, the police traffic safety unit visits local primary schools to keep students aware of traffic safety issues and help them develop skills to safely navigate the streets.

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