As the Town of Ocean City prepares for the July 4th holiday and a busy beach weekend, State and local partners joined together to remind visitors and residents to: Walk Smart, Bike Smart and Drive Smart. Maryland Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Dennis R. Schrader joined Ocean City Mayor Richard W. Meehan, Ocean City Police Captain Kevin Kirstein and State Highway Administration (SHA) District Engineer Donnie Drewer along Coastal Highway to officially launch the 2015 Ocean City Walk Smart! Campaign. The ongoing effort combines engineering, education and enforcement to save lives and prevent injuries along Coastal Highway and other Ocean City, MD roadways.
After a tragic 2012 season that ended with two pedestrian crash fatalities and a dramatic increase in pedestrian injuries, the Ocean City Police Department reported no pedestrian related fatalities for the next two seasons after the successful 2013 Ocean City Walk Smart! campaign launch. With the 2014 season showing a slight increase in pedestrian-related crash injuries and more than 30 bicycle incidents, the Walk Smart! campaign continues to expand pedestrian and bicycle safety messaging. Pedestrians are urged to use crosswalks and wait for “walk” signals, while bicyclists are reminded to ride in the direction of traffic, avoid distractions and follow all traffic signs and signals. Drivers should stop for pedestrians, watch for bicyclists and share the road.
“The OC Walk Smart campaign is working to save lives and make Ocean City streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists,” said Deputy Transportation Secretary Schrader. “With pedestrian-related collisions increasing slightly last year, we must intensify our efforts to keep our roadways safe for everyone.”
In addition to promoting safety messages, SHA continues to add engineering enhancements including: a new mid-block crosswalk and signal at 101st street, median lighting at 49th street and curb bump outs at each intersection of Baltimore Avenue between 9th through 15th streets. SHA installed “wrong way” bike signs at 45 locations and installed new crosswalks at two intersections: MD 528 and South Division Street, and US 50 and MD 611. In total, more than $1.5 million dollars has been invested in education efforts and engineering improvements along Coastal Highway and other State owned roadways in Ocean City.
“Coastal Highway carries up to eight lanes of traffic and more cars, pedestrians, and bicyclists during the summer months than in all nine months of fall, winter, and spring. The Town of Ocean City has one of Maryland’s largest populations during the summer, with a changing population each week,” said Mayor Richard W. Meehan. “Family trips to Ocean City are a long-standing tradition, and we want to keep our visitors and residents safe.”
As part of the Town of Ocean City’s preparations for the July 4th weekend, “Crab the Lifeguard” will be making appearances to remind visitors to Walk Smart! The iconic Maryland crab lifeguard will again remind pedestrians to use crosswalks, follow signals and exercise general street smarts. Educational messages appear on Ocean City transit, plane banners, boat billboard messages, roadside billboards, television and radio public announcements, and in local businesses.
To help expand the message, OC Walk Smart! partners unveiled the new Crab mascot who will engage the community and remind pedestrians to use crosswalks and wait for signals. Drivers also must stay alert, stop for pedestrians and travel the posted speed limit. Bicyclists need to ride with traffic and obey stop signs and red lights.
“Engineers constantly monitor and evaluate the roadway system by retiming signals, enhancing turning movements at intersections, placing ‘no pedestrian crossing’ curb stencils and installing signs in key areas along Coastal Highway to direct pedestrians to safe crossings,” said SHA District Engineer Donnie Drewer. “We are dedicated to improving engineering efforts in partnership with the Town of Ocean City.”
“The Ocean City Police Department encourages holiday travelers to stay safe,” said Police Chief Ross C. Buzzuro. “Traffic safety is imperative to public safety. We need all visitors to stay alert and follow the rules of the road.”