WALK SMART NEWS/MEDIA
MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND PARTNERS STRIVE TO KEEP PEDESTRIANS, BICYCLISTS AND MOTORISTS SAFE THIS SUMMER IN OCEAN CITY
Safety Campaign Featuring the Iconic Cheswick the Crab Lifeguard Aims
to Keep Pedestrians, Bicyclists and Motorists Safe this Summer
(May 11, 2023) – Preparations are underway for the start of the upcoming beach season, and the Maryland Department of Transportation’s State Highway Administration and Motor Vehicle Administration’s Highway Safety Office are again partnering with stakeholders to promote pedestrian, bicycle and driver safety in Ocean City.
At a press conference today, the agencies were joined by representatives of the Town of Ocean City, the Ocean City Police Department and other local businesses and agencies to officially launch the 2023 Ocean City Walk Smart, Drive Smart, Bike Smart safety campaign.
The campaign features the iconic “Cheswick the Crab” mascot and amplifies safety messages that heighten a commitment to the “four Es” – engineering, education, enforcement and emergency medical services – to save lives and prevent injuries on MD 528 (Coastal Highway) and other heavily used roadways in Maryland’s largest beach town.
“Connecting vacationers safely to opportunities for family fun and relaxation is the cornerstone of the 2023 OC Walk Smart, Drive Smart and Bike Smart campaign,” said State Highway Administrator Tim Smith. “Ocean City becomes Maryland’s second largest city during the vacation season, bringing out hundreds of thousands of visitors who will be walking and biking along Coastal Highway during the summer season. It is up to all of us to ensure they get to a from their destination safely.”
More than 50,000 vehicles share Coastal Highway with pedestrians and bicyclists every day during the summer. The State Highway Administration continues to implement significant engineering and safety improvements to enhance safety for vulnerable highway users.
The “Cheswick Says” beach-friendly safety messages, geared toward road users of all ages, will be seen and heard throughout Ocean City this summer on roadway billboards, transit buses, boardwalk tram, aerial banners, boat billboards, social media platforms, in print publications and digital radio.
“Our partnership with State Highway Administration and the town of Ocean City are vital as we continue to spread the message of safe driving, walking and biking this summer,” said Maryland Motor Vehicle Administrator Chrissy Nizer, who also serves as Governor Wes Moore’s Highway Safety Representative. “Road safety is a shared responsibility to ensure everyone makes it to their destination safely. Follow the rules of the road, avoid distractions and make a plan for a sober ride home.”
In the campaign, Cheswick reminds pedestrians to Walk Smart with the following tips:
- Press the crosswalk button before crossing Coastal Highway.
- Cross at and within marked crosswalks.
- Look, pay attention and then cross.
- Follow all traffic signal signs and lane markings.
- Make eye contact and be seen by drivers.
Cheswick reminds drivers to Drive Smart:
- Drive sober: Never drive a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
- Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. It’s the law in Maryland.
- Slow down. Watch for and yield to pedestrians, especially when turning.
- Keep your eyes on the road.
- Avoid all distractions. It’s illegal to text and use hand-held devices while driving.
- Share the road with bicyclists and give 3 feet of space when passing.
- Check your rearview and/or side mirrors for bikes in the bike lane before turning right.
- Avoid driving in bus lanes.
Cheswick also reminds bicyclists to Bike Smart:
- Stop at all red lights and stop signs.
- Ride in the direction of traffic flow.
- Do not ride on the sidewalk. It’s illegal and dangerous.
- Ride sober. Never ride a bicycle while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
- Avoid distractions and pay attention.
- Use bike lights if riding after dark.
In addition to promoting safety messages, State Highway Administration has made several engineering improvements including sidewalk, curbing, crosswalk and signing upgrades, installing median fencing, improving lighting and lengthening turn lanes.
“As Ocean City’s season ramps up and visitors fill our resort town, we are happy to continue and expand the Walk Smart campaign,” said Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan. “Thanks to the tremendous efforts of our Ocean City Police Department, public works and the strong partnership with the state and private businesses, we are keeping residents and visitors safe on our roadways.”
“As we head into the busy summer season, we ask that you please put safety first. The men and women of the Ocean City Police Department will continue to focus on walking, biking and driving safety education and will remain poised to enforce as needed,” said Ocean City Police Department Chief Ross Buzzuro. “We want you to have an enjoyable experience in Ocean City – but above all we want you to be safe.”
The campaign, a staple in Ocean City since 2013, originally featured the crab as a lifeguard helping vacationers safely cross and navigate busy Ocean City streets. The mascot was renamed “Cheswick” as a tribute to Matthew Cheswick, a young pedestrian who was struck and killed by a vehicle while walking along Coastal Highway in 2012.
For additional safety resources and more information about the campaign, visit ocwalksmart.com.