Getting around at the Shore on two wheels

Biking on the boardwalk in Wildwood, where a scenic bicycle route runs nearly the entire length of Five Mile Island, beginning in Wildwood Crest.
Biking on the boardwalk in Wildwood, where a scenic bicycle route runs nearly the entire length of Five Mile Island, beginning in Wildwood Crest. (TOM GRALISH / Staff Photographer)
Posted: July 20, 2014

OCEAN CITY - You've been there, stuck in traffic on the way to the Shore behind a car piled so high with bikes, trikes, and two-wheelers with training wheels that it looks like a Dr. Seuss sculpture.

And you think: "That looks like fun."

Well, it is, because from the northern beaches down to Cape May, bicycling has long been a favorite summertime activity at the Shore. And there are a plethora of places to pedal with the entire family or soar with groups of veteran semi-pro cyclists on circuits that can give you a grand tour of the beach towns and the surrounding rural countryside.

But the epicenter of Shore biking may be this Cape May County resort, where the Ocean City Boardwalk allows biking at specified times every morning, a wide bike path has been created along Haven Avenue between Ninth and 36th Streets, and there are plenty of roadway bike lanes around town.

"People have always loved to come to Ocean City to bike because of so many factors. There have always been a lot of great riding opportunities here," said Michael Annarelli, whose family has owned Annarelli's Bicycles on Asbury Avenue since 1934.

Annarelli said the narrow store, full of bicycles of all descriptions, from wide-tire beach cruisers to sleek racing models, used to rent bikes but nowadays sticks to sales and repairs because so many people arrive in the resort with their own wheels.

The speed limit on most streets in Ocean City is a sedate 25 m.p.h. The town recently spent $250,000 to install a High Intensity Activated Crosswalk signal on Ninth Street - the city's main ingress - to make the busy road safer for bicyclists.

And the relatively new Route 52 Causeway between Ocean City and Somers Point has a bike lane that allows cyclists to travel safely between the barrier island and the mainland, not an easy task in some beach communities.

All that contributed to Ocean City's 2012 ranking by the American League of Bicyclists as one of the best places in the U.S. to ride, according to Nicole Wynands, a spokeswoman for the group.

The "bronze" award designation by the ALB was based on engineering, education, encouragement, enforcement, and evaluation in towns with regard to bikes, Wynands said.

Jim Wheatcroft, a spokesman for the Shore Cycle Club, a 150-member Absecon-based organization, says Ocean City is indeed a favorite location for novice as well as experienced cyclists.

"It's flat," Wheatcroft, 61, says of 7.5-mile Ocean City, which also opens its 2.5-mile boardwalk for biking daily from 5 a.m. to noon.

Wheatcroft said the causeway had become a fast favorite among vacationing cyclists in the two summers it has been open to traffic.

"I think a lot of vacationers come here with their bikes strapped to the back of their cars because biking around the island is a convenient way to get around town when parking spaces are at a premium and traffic is clogging up the streets," Wheatcroft said. "But then a lot of them notice when they get here that biking here can go beyond just being a means of transportation and there are a lot of options for recreation."

Hoboken, Montclair, Princeton, and West Windsor received the same ranking as Ocean City, and the state is ranked 12th in the country for bike friendliness.

Besides Ocean City, the New Jersey State Department of Transportation has embarked on a recent push to create pedestrian and biking master plans for Atlantic City, Brigantine, Margate, North Wildwood, Wildwood, and Cape May, according to Steve Shapiro, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Transportation.

Shapiro said the state had worked with more than 100 New Jersey municipalities to create policies and working plans so that streets and roads can safely accommodate cyclists of all abilities.

Statewide rides

So serious about encouraging people to go ride a bike, the Department of Transportation has published a guide to more than 20 ambitious bicycle tours around the state, including the East Coast Greenway Tour and the 238-mile High Point Cape May Bike Route.

The new Explore the Shore by Bicycle Tour, which routes bikers through picturesque Shore and inland areas past places of geographic and historical interest and varying levels of difficulty, has been divided into four segments: a 36-mile route from Sandy Hook to Brick Township, 45 miles from Brick to Tuckerton, 45 miles from Tuckerton to Somers Point, and 42 miles from Somers Point down to Cape May.

Route information for each tour has been formatted to use on Web-enabled mobile devices and personal Global Positioning Systems (GPS). For more information, go to the NJDot's website at www.state.nj.us/transportation/commuter/bike/

Atlantic City, downbeach, and beyond

Bicycle riding is allowed on the 4-mile Atlantic City Boardwalk between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. May 15 through Sept. 15 and from Sept. 16 through May 14 from 6 a.m. to noon and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. .

Ventnor is a bike-friendly town, where riding on the three-mile length of its boardwalk, which connects with Atlantic City's Boardwalk, is allowed all day on weekdays and until noon on weekends. Just to the south is Margate, and a bike lane along Atlantic Avenue allows cyclists to whisk though that town and into Longport. A toll bridge, the Longport-Ocean City Bridge, connects Longport through a small section of Egg Harbor Township, with Ocean City and has no restrictions for bikers.

Nine miles inland from Atlantic City is the 7.5-mile Atlantic County Bikeway, a paved path through the pines that offers a relaxing escape from the more frenzied riding conditions in and around Atlantic City.

The Wildwoods

Bicyclists can enjoy a particularly scenic route that runs nearly the entire length of Five Mile Island, the barrier island that includes North Wildwood, Wildwood, and Wildwood Crest. The route begins at Rambler Road in Wildwood Crest, extends north at Cresse Avenue along the 2.5 miles of the Wildwood Boardwalk, and connects between 15th and 16th Streets via a ramp with North Wildwood. For this portion, riders continue along the beach through a mulberry grove that ends at a sea wall on the northernmost point of the island. Bicyclists are allowed on Wildwood's Boardwalk between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. weekdays and 5 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. on weekends and holidays.


Where to rent your wheels

Surf Buggy 1414 Long Beach Blvd., Surf City, 609-361-3611 or 3801 Long Beach Blvd., Brant Beach, 609-361-0100. Beach cruisers rent for $10 an hour, $22 a day, or $49 a week.

Acme Surf & Sport 8401 Long Beach Blvd., Beach Haven, 609-492-5150. One-speed adult bikes $9 an hour, $15 a day, or $45 weekly.

All About Bikes 'n' Wheels 1301 W. Brigantine Ave., 609-264-9111. Beach cruisers $8 an hour, three-hour special $18, 24-hour rental $25, or $75 a week including helmet and lock. B&K Bike Rentals Inc. 1743 Boardwalk, 609-344-8008. Beach cruisers are $8 for the first hour and $1 for each additional 15 minutes. AAAA Bike Shop 5300 Ventnor Ave., 609-487-0808. Beach bikes rent for $10 for one to four hours, $15 a day, $25 overnight, and $75 a week. Road bikes, minimum two-day rental, are $35 a day for an aluminum model and $60 a day for carbon. Ocean City Bicycle Center Eighth & Atlantic Avenue, 609-399-5550. Beach cruisers rent for $6 an hour, $12 a day or $42 a week.

34TH Street Bikes 34th & West Avenue, 609-398-6431. Beach cruisers rent for $8 an hour, $17 a day, or $45 a week.

Sea Isle City Cruisers 6300 Landis Ave., Unit 4. 609-263-3700. Beach cruisers rent for $7 an hour, $25 a day, $45 a week. Hollywood Bicycle Center 25th & Dune Drive, 609-967-5846. Beach cruisers rent for $10 for up to three hours, $25 a day, $50 a week. Harbor Bike & Beach 9828 Third Ave., 609-368-3691. Single-speed bikes rent for $5 an hour, $10 for three hours, $12 a day, $40 a week. Shields' Bike Rental 11 Gurney St., 609-898-1818. Beach cruisers rent for $5 an hour, $12 a day or $40 a week.

Village Bicycle Shop 605 Lafayette St., 609-884-8500. Any rental bike in shop rents for $5 an hour, $12 a day or $40 a week.

- Compiled by Jacqueline L. Urgo


jurgo@phillynews.com

609-652-8382 @JacquelineUrgo

www.inquirer.com/downashore


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