I’m down the ocean this week. Ocean City is Maryland’s unsung bike friendly community. Not only do they have a shared bike & bus lane (that’s rarely violated) running the length of Coastal Highway, but a bike route over to West OC and onto Assateague Island. There are bikes everywhere and just as many bike racks. There are at least 7 bike rental places as well. I’ve been tooling around town on my Citizen folding bike. It’s nice and compact in the back of the van and gets me where I need to go, but definitely not in a hurry. But it’s all good – I’m on vacation!.
From a cyclist’s point of view, Ocean City ain’t B’more and here are some differences I’ve observed:
1. People ride “carcasses”. When we see carcasses (abandoned bikes) in B’more, they’re locked to light posts and street signs, rusting away as they’re picked about; first a wheel, a seat, then the forks until its only the frame. Here in OC, you can tell a local bike by its rusted rims and frame. These bikes must be left outside to winter in the salty air making their spring return with a squeaky cry with every crank and turn. Of course, most bikes here are beach cruisers but they are at a bare minimum – don’t expect lights, clips, computers, etc.
2. Many bikes are left unlocked and unattended. Just today, I observed 6 bikes left alone in our condo’s garage. Vast numbers more left unattended at convenience stores, amusement parks, and dune crossings. Obviously, many of these riders have never involunarily lost a bike. The bikes that are locked up are on the boards, but done so with a cheap, 1/4 inch combo lock. I can get through those locks with dull, rusty scissors, let alone wire cutters or tin snips.
3. Almost all riding here is recreational. Sure its a resort town what do I expect, but what I don’t expect is for folks to completely check out when on vacation. All roadies on Coastal Highway still have their wits and senses, pedaling the shared lane with senses amplified even if wearing earbuds. The Boards are a different environment where folks pedal with reckless abandon not paying attention to those around them. I can’t tell you how many cyclists I’ve seen pedaling northbound against the storefronts (the extreme left lane). Cyclists with helmets are also few and far between.
But there’s hope: maybe these folks don’t ride often and try it out on vacation, return home and pick it up again. You never know. Here’s hoping….