Officials repainting crosswalks in Ocean City with new safer design

Making Ocean City safer for pedestrians and bicyclists in a challenge

For many of us, a getaway to a beach resort means parking the car and doing a lot of walking and biking. Ocean City, Maryland, and state highway officials are looking to make that safer.

An example of a "continental-style" crosswalk. (Courtesy Maryland State Highway Administration)

“It’s no secret that in summer months, Ocean City really quickly becomes the second-largest city in the state,” said Mark Crampton, district engineer for the Maryland State Highway Administration.

“Several years ago, the state highway folks and the town actually put up a fence in the median of Coastal Highway,” less commonly known as Maryland Route 528, the nine-mile main thoroughfare that runs from the Delaware state line to just prior to the Ocean City Inlet.

“We had a lot of people that were cutting midblock crosswalks, and had some collisions with pedestrians, so back then, we put a fence up,” said Crampton. “That deterred a lot of it, but there’s still people who literally climb under the fence, or walk along the fence,” before dashing across the highway.

Part of the challenge of creating safe environments for non-car drivers is that Ocean City’s infrastructure and activity levels change.

Starting at the southern tip, “The boardwalk runs from the Inlet to 27th Street. Then you have different things in midtown, which is up through 62nd Street, where Route 90 comes in,” said Crampton. “Up north, you go to the higher-rise condos, and there’s less and less amusement parks, and restaurants, so the flavor of the town changes.”

The state highway group works often with the Ocean City Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, which continues to look for ways to improve the walking and biking experience, in addition to its OC Walk Smart awareness campaign.

“We’ve got a lot of pedestrian countdown signals in town,” said Crampton. “And this year, getting ready for the season, we literally painted every crosswalk up and down Coastal Highway from 15th Street to the Delaware line.”

Ocean City and state highway officials work to improve walking and biking safety

Some crosswalks will look different than in years past.

“If you picture crosswalks, we have things that look like ladders or a railroad track — the more traditional style,” said Crampton. “We’re switching over to what we call ‘continentals’ — they actually look like piano keys, and those are much more visible.”

Currently, bicyclists and buses share a lane on Coastal Highway, but Crampton says the advisory group is considering other safety options. “At some point they’re going to be seeking input from residents and users alike, to see what we can do to even further enhance it.”

“Coastal Highway is only so wide,” said Crampton. “You’ve got so many lanes of traffic, you’ve got a median for turn lanes, so it’s a constant battle to figure out the best use of the footprint we have.”

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Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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