Riding into Trouble at 32nd Street [UPDATED]


New ending, with a more polished look — take another look at Riding into trouble.

Statistically, this intersection is rated the #2 worst for cyclists. What’s the problem?

Orange County Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Pete Van Nuys and Newport Beach bike advocate Dan Murphy team up to point out some of the hazards on the peninsula. Watch the video.

Editors note: As this project came together this week I’ve shown previews to a few of my fellow members of the Bicycle Safety Committee, Public Works and NBPD. Many have offered their feedback, like this thoughtful reply.


I have a confession to make: Up until the time I began learning about all the bicycle-related issues here in Newport Beach after becoming the NBPD Deputy Chief, I was just as ignorant of the rules of the road for bicyclists as all the people you see in your video (although your video was shot after the summer; increase the numbers of pedestrians/bicyclists ten-fold for summer weekends). I lived for over a decade just down the street from 32nd Street/Newport Blvd, and my family and I rode that 32nd Street route to the beach nearly every day. I too pedaled my beach cruiser on the wrong side of the road – and never stopped to think that there was a better way, or that I was technically breaking the law. I didn’t like riding on the wrong side; it was a little nerve-wracking facing on-coming traffic for that stretch of roadway. But it was for a short distance, and it got me to the beach in a direct line, and everyone was riding that way.

Short of wholesale physical remodeling of this intersection and 32nd Street between Newport Blvd and Balboa Blvd (which will take time and lots of money), we really need to put our heads together and come up with short-term relief. What I see in this intersection is the same thing I see in other “hot spots” around the City (including the Boardwalk): a cultural change is needed in the public’s mind about what is proper, safe and legal; better signage (bigger, more picture-type signs with less words); and working with bike shops and other businesses to get the word out. Im sure others will have ideas too. This is a long-term effort, on everyone’s part. Know that your police department will work hard to help where we can.

So, your video does illustrate the point that we have a problem at this intersection. Where to go now? I believe the best strategy is a focused approach, one hot-spot at a time. I know this takes time, and after the past weekend people may not think we have that much time. However, we did not get to this point overnight, and it will not be fixed overnight.

DAVID W. McGILL, Deputy Chief
Newport Beach Police Department

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