The Ocean City Book of Etiquette

The Ocean City Book of Etiquette

Good etiquette: Using the marked lanes on the boardwalk appropriately.
Good etiquette: Using the marked lanes on the boardwalk appropriately.


Summer in Ocean City brings together a whole lot of people sharing the roads, beaches and boardwalk of the place they love. An estimated 150,000 rub elbows on the island’s 6.33 square miles of land on a busy summer weekend.

The clash of the masses leads to some inevitable and understandable frustrations.

So we enlisted our OCNJ Daily readers to help us build a Book of Ocean City Etiquette — an attempt to suggest that a little courtesy might defuse a lot of tension.

And they responded.

In a post shared almost 3,000 times, 54 offered suggestions, and more than another 150 chimed in on Facebook.

“The point to be made about etiquette is that its practice ensures the comfort, enjoyment and respect of everyone,” Elle McGee wrote.

Jim England was even more concise — “Mutual respect and common courtesy: Every season, everybody, everywhere.”

Nobody likes rules, so we resisted the temptation to frame the reader suggestions as commandments.

But here are some considerations that anybody with any connection to Ocean City might think about each summer.



The beach is the centerpiece of summer in Ocean City. The general idea is to understand that even though it can be crowded, there’s always enough room to respect other people’s space. And consider that the wind carries a lot of unwanted things into that space.

  • Check downwind before you shake sand from a towel.
  • Check downwind before you use those new spray sunscreen dispensers.
  • Check downwind (and check wind speed) before you set up umbrellas and other equipment that can become sails and projectiles.
  • Check downwind before you light up a smoke (if you must).
  • Respect personal space. If you set up below the tide line, you may have to leapfrog to the back of the beach as the water displaces you.
  • Respect property that’s not your own. Don’t move other people’s stuff to make room for your own.
  • Give folks a little space.
  • Remember not to leave trash behind.
  • Don’t leave food unattended and accessible to gulls.
  • Respect rules that prohibit anybody from walking on the dunes.
  • For your own safety, stay off jetties, which can be extremely slippery.
  • Respect designations for surfing beaches by not swimming or fishing there.
  • Remember that dogs are not allowed on the beach from May through September.
  • Consider that your tent is another person’s billboard.



There’s truly no finer place for a walk, run or ride than the Ocean City Boardwalk with its sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean along its entire length. As a matter of safety and courtesy, be aware that it can be extremely crowded with walkers, runners and bikers all moving at different rates.

  • Honor the marked lanes for runners, bicycles and surreys.
  • Sounds simple, but look both ways before crossing, and look behind you before stopping.
  • Move surreys, bikes and bodies to the edge of the boardwalk when you stop — to keep traffic flowing.
  • Remember that bicycles are allowed on the boardwalk only until noon in the summer.
  • Understand that walking four or five abreast blocks traffic, particularly at the narrow ends of the boardwalk.
  • Use the road, not the boardwalk, for training or speed on a bicycle.



With cars filling parking spots on the island and blocking sight lines, a new crosswalk law that is only sometimes understood, and bicycles following their own set of rules, Ocean City’s streets can be chaotic. Much of courtesy in this realm consists of understanding what is already governed by law.

  • If you are a pedestrian and not ready to cross a street, stand away from the crosswalk, so cars can proceed.
  • If you are a pedestrian and ready to cross a street, stand in the crosswalk, so cars know your intention.
  • If you are using a crosswalk, respect the time and patience of the motorists who are waiting for you to cross.
  • If you’re a pedestrian at an intersection with a traffic light, remember to follow the signal. You don’t have the right of way as you would at a crosswalk.
  • If you’re a motorist, know that you must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
  • On a bicycle, follow the rules of the road as if you’re a motor vehicle — stop signs and traffic signals included.
  • Bicycles should not use sidewalks.
  • Yield to turtles and wildlife on roads.
  • Understand that there are no reserved spaces for street parking — not OK to use cones or trash cans to do so.
  • Be considerate in not parking cars in front of other properties and leaving them, so you can save off-street parking or spaces near your own property.
  • Be considerate in not taking up two potential parking spaces with one car.
  • Do not let dogs use private property or the beach to do their business.
  • Look for bikes riding up behind you before opening a car door.
  • Respect a bicyclist’s right to share the road.
  • Be reasonably quiet at night … on the streets and at home.
  • Don’t use other people’s trash cans for your own waste.


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