City planning Archive

The Three Worst Intersections, Your Route to the Beach

Posted May 13, 2014 By Frank Peters

What are the most dangerous intersections for cyclists?

A new friend was asking, but we had so many bike stories to share I forgot to say.

  1. Via Lido at Newport Blvd
  2. 32nd Street at Newport Blvd
  3. Riverside Drive at W. Coast Hwy

Map them to trace the route that kids take from Newport Harbor High School to the beach. Not so conveniently, they must navigate all three of the worst intersections in the city for people on bikes.

It’s a route that includes sidewalks, crosswalks and several driveway aprons.

Will we see new treatments in the Bicycle Master Plan?


Extending the Beach Boardwalk

Posted May 10, 2014 By Frank Peters
It doesn't have to end here

Want to bike to the Wedge? The beach boardwalk will only take you as far as E Street

Now that the Back Bay report is complete I know a lot of you are wondering where we should focus next.

How about a fresh look at extending the beach boardwalk?

For some, just thinking about the boardwalk brings visions of Council chambers filled with angry, NIMBY homeowners. I think we all know that extending the boardwalk, from E Street to the Wedge, would be the end of civilization as we know it, so a lot of folks steer clear of the idea. That’s too bad because we also know that even more kids could bike to Newport Elementary everyday — and as we all remember, every kid riding their bike to school is one less Mom in a SUV in traffic.

Not to mention teens…

They may have graduated from Newport Elementary, but teens want to go to the Wedge. Nothing we adults say or do can keep them from going. When the waves get gnarly, it’s where boy meets girl. As a parent of two boys on the other side of town I wish that their route to the Wedge could be as safe as possible. And that’s not the case today — the beach boardwalk dumps everyone onto E. Balboa Blvd at E Street. We’ve studied that area — it’s not safe for bike riders.

Maybe because some have decreed the issue out of bounds, solutions lack imagination. Every time I’ve ever thought of what extending the boardwalk would look like, I picture this:

The expensive, divisive boardwalk extension

The long, expensive and divisive boardwalk extension

But then an analogy comes to mind: I remember when I’ve mentored entrepreneurs as they try to raise money for their startups. At some point you’ve gotta ask them, “What’ll you do if you don’t get the money?” They’ve got to persevere and that may mean doing a low-budget version.

Apply that thinking to extending the beach boardwalk. What if you only had a little budget?

90% of the benefit, 10% of the cost?

The mini-extension: 90% of the benefit for only 18% of the cost?

You’d have to consider something smaller, like this mini-extension. Now we’re talking only 700ft, not the 3,821ft monster boardwalk extension, with correspondingly fewer homeowners to placate.

But how does it deliver 90% of the benefits for only a fraction of the cost?
By connecting the boardwalk to F then to G Streets you keep cyclists and skaters out of the busy intersection at E. Balboa Blvd at G Street. Now cyclists can ride quiet, calm East Ocean Front all the way to the Wedge and back. Now you’ve connected an entire neighborhood’s elementary school children to the boardwalk and made it safer for Wedge-bound teens, too.

Is this something worth exploring further?

I think we all know, extending the beach boardwalk wouldn’t be popular — it would be wildly popular!

What if we just extended the boardwalk to here?

What if we just extended the boardwalk to here?


Ban Cars on Back Bay?

Posted May 10, 2014 By Frank Peters

Maybe that’s a little provocative.

Maybe we should do a test-run, a trial period first.

What if we restricted cars from the Back Bay for just the summer months?

And before we run out and put up blockades, let’s develop some metrics to measure the impact. And create a survey while we’re at it, so we can poll the people who love it best — ask them what they think.

I just saved you the 20 minutes you would’ve spent downloading and reading the report. Maybe you should read it anyway — it’s loaded with great photos and quotes from all those who chimed in with their opinions during the review process. It’s a piece of work — get your copy here.


Blind Curves

Posted April 27, 2014 By Frank Peters
One of several blind curves  on Back Bay Drive

One of several blind curves on Back Bay Drive

What would you recommend?
These blind curves along Back Bay Drive, are they the most dangerous places on the route? There’s little room for error.

The sub-committee of the Newport Beach Bicycle Master Plan Committee meets 5pm Wednesday at the Civic Center. Join us as we discuss making this trail safer.


Observation Ride in the Back Bay

Posted April 19, 2014 By Frank Peters

Bill Sellin, Dawn Sumerford, Bruce Nelson, Heather, Doug & Paul hopped on bikes to ride the Back Bay Drive

Today was part 2 of a 3-part series dedicated to examining all the mixed uses on the Back Bay Drive.

This evaluation started when the Newport Bay Conservancy sent a letter to the Bicycle Master Plan Committee. See the letter and news of the sub-committee that was formed to explore the issues here.

This would be a different kind of ride; no speed racing, we would stop frequently to observe the roadway and the many users. I learned a lot. Heather from the Conservancy added great historical perspective.

Did you know that the road was once the only way to the coast, before there was Jamboree?

I didn’t know it was originally a two-way road either and that a boat launch once thrived at the Big Canyon turnout. Heather shared how the community came together to remove the launch and one direction of traffic.

Is it time for the next step in conservancy?

Should car traffic be eliminated altogether? Or should we stripe separate lanes for bikes and cars and bikes coming the other way and for dog-walkers and rollerbladers?

We’ve discussed the pros and cons.

Want to learn more? Care to participate in the final report?

Come to the next meeting: 5pm Wed April 30th at the Civic Center.

Can’t attend? Email your suggestions to

Heather shares the history of the Conservancy at one of our many stops


The Draft Plan, Part III

Posted March 4, 2014 By Frank Peters

In this post I wrap up my 19 comments to the Newport Beach Draft Master Plan.

Begin reading Parts I and Part II first.

13. Undo the City’s recently completed Traffic Timing Study.
At every intersection in the City now, peds must wait an extra long time while our motorist brethren go flying by. This is the opposite of what bike advocates advise: Make driving harder and cycling easier. An increasingly older demographic, the Baby Boomers, will be walking away from their vehicles in the decades to come, let’s build more pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and slow down those speeding through the community on their way someplace better…

14. Dover trap lane, westbound on Coast Hwy — a fatality just waiting to happen.

15. Fashion Island — I can walk to FI from home. Going to the movies or just to stretch it out, it’s a nice destination — until you actually get there! Try walking past Red O on Anacapa — there is no sidewalk. I’ve often said the Irvine Company expects you to come by Bentley, not by bike. They have 2 crappy bike racks in the whole damn place. I can complain and I have gotten a nice letter in the mail thanking me for sharing, but our Chair would likely get a more significant response.

16. Fix 32nd Street at Newport Blvd.
Add a green lane for cyclists to show them how to safely cross westbound on 32nd Street. Instead, too many are riding on the wrong side of the street inviting a collision.

17. CdM Sharrows: Bring back the electronic signs.
Motorists forget, plus they’re in a hurry to get somewhere really important and that damn cyclist is taking the lane right in front of them. What’s a motorist to do other than blow the horn?! Bring back the NBPD electronic signs, if only for a day or two, to remind our motorist friends that BMUFL in CdM. Then let’s move the signs to Bayside Drive where motorists frequently disrespect cyclists traveling the Sharrows.

18. Add a k-rail separated bike path going up Newport Coast Drive and San Joaquin Hills Drive. Today we have all the ingredients for disaster — 60mph autos and cyclists only inches away. Is that a text coming in? OMG!

19. Dream with me — Let’s create a westbound PCH sidewalk bikeway.
Cyclists are allowed on the sidewalk between Avocado and Jamboree; on the southern sidewalk cyclists enjoy the shade of the over-hanging trees and a curbed flowerbed between themselves and the 50mph motorists on PCH. This is how cycling around town should be, so let’s extend this sidewalk option all the way to Newport Blvd. It doesn’t take much to make the connections so that bike riders can get to the popular destinations. Until we find the millions for a cantilevered bike path over the Bay Bridge, this could be done for peanuts and would be enjoyed by casual riders too timid sensible to ride Coast Hwy.


The Draft Plan, Part II

Posted March 4, 2014 By Frank Peters

Start with Part I as I share my comments on the NB Draft Master Plan.

Got you own ideas? You can add your own 2 cents worth here.

5. Make Constellation Drive the entrance/exit to the Back Bay Loop Trail — this could be a great new entrance to the best cycling in NB; thousands will enjoy it.

6. Sidewalk riding — is it ok to ride on the sidewalk along MacArthur?
Leslie Daigle told me how Don Webb designed them to be used that way, but signage is missing. Just in the past few months I’ve learned how valuable this route is, connecting directly with the San Diego Creek Trail in Irvine and beyond.

7. Safe routes to the beach — Picture this route: Riverside Dr at Coast Hwy, the sidewalk along Coast Hwy, and the intersections of Newport Blvd. at Via Lido and 32nd Street are the connections that kids from Newport Heights use everyday to get to the beach. We all know this is horrible, so let’s get to work on a robust, safe and direct route that’s suitable for kids.

8. Free Right Turns — they’re killer and we all know it. Bike Religion’s John Tzinberg told me that the FRT at Newport Coast was “the worst” and now we know just how deadly it is. We can’t improve safety by pussy footing around — these are deadly intersections, just waiting to happen. Every single FRT must go.

9. Landscape trucks block bike lanes on San Joaquin Hills Drive and Newport Coast Drive. They’re still doing it — blocking the bike lane while performing their landscaping duties. This forces cyclists out into high-speed traffic where there’s no room for error — a fatality waiting to happen.

10. Goldenrod Bridge — it’s a tight squeeze with peds and bikes on the footbridge and walking your bike only makes it worse. Someday let’s widen it.

11. More enforcement is needed on Ocean Blvd above Big Corona. You’re at the beach riding your bike having a great time, but the motorists are frazzled — they’ve traveled many miles in some cases and they’re circling the neighborhood looking for free parking. They represent a hazard to peds and cyclists. Let’s set demand-pricing at Big Corona so that the parking fees are always a good deal and let’s invite NBPD to apply more enforcement during the busy summer weekends.

12. Bike racks — there are none at Big Corona, not one. Our business districts don’t realize what an economic boom these tiny sidewalk furniture items will be. This is chicken feed! Let’s seed the BIDs with nice inverted U racks and watch what happens.

Continue on to Part III.


The Draft Plan, Part I

Posted March 3, 2014 By Frank Peters

I’m a member of the Newport Beach Bicycle Master Plan Oversight Committee and to avoid any possible conflict with the open government dictates of the Brown Act the City Attorney has asked that all committee members submit their comments and suggestions relating to the Draft Master Plan separately. I’m happy to comply and my 19 comments spanning 3 pages were included in the agenda of tonight’s meeting.

I couldn’t attend tonight’s meeting as I’m in Washington, D.C. as a sponsor of the Women’s Bicycle Conference preceding the National Bike Summit.

This much snow closed the Federal government today.

As all 19 of my comments would make for too long a post I have broken my remarks up into 3 parts. Rereading them tonight in my hotel room I see a typo and more than one opportunity to add clarity to my comments, otherwise they are the same comments you would’ve heard at tonight’s meeting.

1. First, I strongly support the extension of the beach boardwalk, in both directions to the Wedge and to the Santa Ana River Trail. This would be the best use of funds as it would be very popular with bike riders. Newport Elementary arguably, has the highest number of kids biking to school — that number would only go up which has the benefit of fewer car trips on the busy peninsula. My boys always wanted to go to the Wedge — it’s a teen hangout. To get them there safely is every parent’s wish. Please place all my ‘chips’ on this issue.

2. In CdM, heading eastbound on Coast Hwy: the Sharrows end, but the dangerous conditions continue past Poppy and Hazel. Motorists know all too well how the speed limit increases to 45mph, so they are hitting the gas while cyclists must negotiate the threat of car doors due to the parked cars. Please remove the approximately 8 parking places past Poppy or continue the Sharrows.

3. Related to #2, I recommend a separated bike path from Seaward eastbound all the way to Crystal Cove State Park. This could bring a wonderful bicycling asset into reach of many CdM casual riders. There’s roadway space for such a treatment and where else should the City experiment with a separated, protected bike lane?

4. Palm Street at the Balboa Island ferry — there are 5 parking places on the street between E. Balboa Blvd. and the West Oceanfront boardwalk — remove them and create a safe path for cyclists coming off the ferry onto the boardwalk. (This should’ve been considered at an earlier point in time, when the City purchased the old grocery store land across the street and built 32 parking places. Every time new parking is added someone should look around to find other spaces worth removing so as to improve safety for peds and cyclists. Because we didn’t have the foresight to do this we may end up petitioning Coastal to remove these 5 parking spaces.)

Next up, The Draft Plan, Part II.


Santa Ana Bike Safety Forum

Posted February 23, 2014 By Frank Peters

On the way home

On the way home

Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez sent me an invite – there would be a meeting to discuss bike safety. It was a meeting I wanted to attend.

For starters, it would be a great ride. San Clemente bicycle advocate Brenda Miller suggested riding together from the Newport Beach Civic Center where the monthly rides have started. That would make it a 30-mile round trip ride.

I got busy planning the route. Since I’d never biked to downtown Santa Ana and because route planning is the key to safe riding; I got to work on Google Earth.

Mapping bike routes has become a hobby for me. I enjoy the tedium of drawing the routes, click, click, clicking the waypoints from point A to B. Over the past few months I’ve remapped all the rides here on the site; check them out here.

Mostly off-road

Mostly off-road

For this trip I have a new toy – a Garmin Edge Touring trip computer. Like all bike computers, it tracks speed and distance, but this unit has built-in maps and I can trace my route and download it to the gadget for turn-by-turn directions. Since I knew the way along half the route, but not the downtown Santa Ana streets, this would be just the thing to get us there.

The GPS device did as I hoped it would; call it beginner’s luck – drawing the map and downloading it into the gadget – it all worked great.

As we arrive the room is filling up. It’s a youthful, diverse audience. Gerardo Mouet, Executive Director Parks, Recreation and Community Services Agency leads us through a discussion of the issues. There’s been a fatality, just 2 nights ago, which underscores the importance. Everyone in the room has a challenge navigating the city streets. The highlight of the session was the small group discussions around the easel to get everyone’s input on topics like safety, bike lanes, bike trails and riding on sidewalks. A lot of good feedback is shared.

The City will convene a Bicycle Task Force and it looks like there are several willing participants.

Before I leave I tell Michele: she’s got everything she needs – all this youthful enthusiasm will make the process a success.


Making Progress

Posted February 3, 2014 By Frank Peters

Last night the City hosted another update in the process of creating a Bicycle Master Plan.

A good-sized audience appeared, just as they have the past few months; it’s encouraging to see the public engagement.

It would only take a few minutes before we learned why some were present — objections started surfacing with the draft plan‘s proposal to extend the beach boardwalk to the Wedge in one direction and to the Santa Ana River Trail (SART) in the other.

Affected homeowners in each direction came out to speak against the plan. The meeting was delivering fireworks just minutes into the agenda.

Chair Petros heard them out and suggested counter arguments might wait till later. So the objections to the boardwalk extension hung in the air for the better part of an hour.

Continue reading “Making Progress” »