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Fernleaf Ave

Who's idea was this? No bikes because it's a hassle for the motorists? Well, in that case...

Granted it’s a steep downhill, but no bikes?

Many cyclists are totally capable to manage this slope. Is it too much of a hassle for motorists? That’s what I’m thinking; what do you think?

This never came up during the Bike Safety Committee meetings, so who’s idea is this?

See additional comments related to this sign on coronadelmartoday.

Comments

comments

Frank Peters

listen to my podcast shows at cdmCyclist.com

This Post Has 10 Comments
  1. No bikes on this street going up or down the hill? What’s changed in NB? Certainly not this street for the past 70 years… If you’re a kid on a beach cruiser, you may choose to walk it on the sidewalk. If you’re out for a ride on any other bike, the 50 yard climb/descend at Fernleaf is just part of the normal route through CdM and has been for decades. It would appear the only thing to change is NB’s attitude toward cyclists using the road.
    What’s next?

  2. Is that new? I do not think it can be enforced. The State of California, under section 21 of its Vehicle Code, bars local authorities from regulation of many matters covered by the Code – including cycling on the roadway.

  3. That sign has been there as long as I can remember — 1980s at least. I’ve never paid any attention to it. David is right, there’s no way the city can ban bikes from that roadway.

    I can understand how the sign got there — concern that kids might roll out of control down the hill, and into traffic on Bayside. Or maybe it was complaints from motorists, upset about people on bikes being “in their way.”

    But cyclists are not rolling pedestrians, or children playing in the street. The city needs to take them seriously as vehicles on the road, as the law says they are to be treated.

  4. For what its worth, I recall a similar sign restricting cycling up the Fernleaf ramp. It was in place for years before the city rebuilt the Fernleaf retaining wall about 10 years ago. I support such a restriction for up hill cycling as there is a steep blind turn at the top of the ramp. Impatient motorists following a cyclist up the hill often clear left into blind oncoming downhill traffic. The downhill restriction is relatively new, about two years. I don’t support the downhill restriction despite being told that a cyclist recently lost control going down the ramp.

    Michael Toerge is a member of the Newport Beach Planning Commission.

  5. One problem with any kind of restriction is that it conflicts with the California Vehicle Code (by which the State retains jurisdiction over movement on the road). This is to provide uniformity of law throughout the State. You can imagine how quickly our State’s road system would devolve into little fiefdoms if local authorities were allowed to throw up laws and signs inconsistent with State law. There would be different laws every few miles, and most important – less incentive to make the roads themselves uniform and safe.

    Case in point – this sign! I take it from the comments above and on CoronadelMarToday.com that this sign is meant to address a ‘nuisance’ to motorists and a perceived safety hazard. OK. Are motorists tailgating cyclists on the uphill? That’s a traffic violation called ‘Following too Closely’. Enforce the actual law. And add a bike lane; if there is not enough room, make traffic one-way. Are people running out in to cross-traffic at the bottom? Maybe the intersection needs to be re-designed. Maybe the bottom of the hill should have a STOP sign for traffic in all directions.

    Large visible signs that said STEEP HILL, SHARP TURN, USE EXTREME CAUTION would be informative and helpful. A small sign like the present one sends a very different message. It probably poses more of a challenge to kids than a warning to them. Additionally, there is the negative message to the public.

    The implication of the presence of the current sign is that anyone who doesn’t obey the sign is in violation of a law. And that is not the case. But, any motorist who sees a cyclist in front of a honking car on that hill will think the cyclist is in the wrong. And this isn’t limited to the general public. (Think of the Newport Beach Police Officer who ‘corrected’ Frank when he mentioned cycling over the Fernleaf botz dots.) All these years, people who see that sign have been led to believe local authorities are allowed to regulate cycling on the road and that cyclists who ride on Fernleaf Avenue are scofflaws.

    This sign explains a lot of the dismissive attitude towards cycling on the road in Newport Beach. It explains why people here simply believe that cyclists do not have the same rights to access and safety on the public rights-of-way that motorists enjoy. That attitude and false belief gives motorists the moral ‘excuse’ they need to do things like tailgate ‘scofflaw’ cyclists going up Fernleaf Avenue.

    See how it works?

  6. Here’s why the sign is illegal (California Vehicle Code language in “quotes”):

    1. Section 21200 defines the rights and duties of bicyclists as being the same as drivers of vehicles.

    2. Section 21: “Except as otherwise expressly provided, the provisions of this code are applicable and uniform throughout the State and in all counties and municipalities therein, and no local authority shall enact or enforce any ordinance on the matters covered by this code unless expressly authorized herein.”

    3. Section 21100 Expressly authorizes for local authorities to regulate the use of bicycles on public sidewalks

    4. Section 21206 Expressly authorizes local agencies to regulate the registration, and the parking and operation of bicycles on pedestrian or bicycle facilities provided the regulation isn’t in conflict with the CVC.

    5. Section 21960 Expressly authorizes local agency prohibition of bicycling or walking on freeways and expressways.

    6. There are no codes providing express authorization of municipalities to regulate cycling on non-freeway/expressway roads.

    7. Supportive legal opinions & appellate court ruling:

    a. Attorney General’s opinion: 52 Ops.Cal.Atty.Gen. 313, 314 (1970) cited Wilton v. Henkin(1942), 52 Cal.App.2nd 368, 372 which affirmed the superiority of state legislation for traffic regulation over local ordinances.
    b. The court in Flury v. Beeskau (1934) 33 P.2nd 1033, 1036, 139 Cal.App. 398, stated that “A bicycle or motorcycle is recognized as a legitimate means of traveling upon the highways or streets of a city either for business or pleasure. The traffic rules which are prescribed by the California Vehicle Act apply to bicycles and motorcycles as well as to automobiles and other vehicles.”

    Since Fernleaf is neither a Freeway nor an Expressway per CVC 21960 and the city has no other express authority to regulate cycling as required by CVC 21, the sign is in conflict with the CVC and is unenforceable, and discourages lawful cycling per the CVC.

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