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Our Deadly Free Right Turns

Coast Hwy at Newport Coast Drive

You find them all over town — they’re called Free Right Turns.

You won’t find them in the Bicycle Master Plan though, not according to my sources.

That’s more than just too bad; the previous Bicycle Safety Committees have consistently rated these roadway designs as very dangerous. Not just an accident waiting to happen; they’re lethal.

Debra Deem was killed last August when she attempted to ride her bike past Newport Coast Drive, continuing westbound.

Bike Religion’s John Tzinberg called this free right turn, “The worst one,” in part because traffic is already traveling at high speed. Compounding the danger, the exit lane is so long that cyclists can’t easily get out of harm’s way; they’re stuck in between travel lanes with cars zipping past.

Yesterday at 3:12pm Sunday May 18, 2014, NBPD reports a DUI collision between a motorist and a bicyclist here.

After the Deem fatality Caltrans studied the intersection, but they’ve made no recommendations yet.

It’s too bad we won’t be seeing some new treatments in the Bicycle Master Plan. Until someone steps up to rectify this worst-of-all free right turn, westbound cyclists should detour into Crystal Cove State Park at Reef Point Drive and enjoy a safe, quiet path that avoids Newport Coast Drive.




Frank Peters

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