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PCH through Mariners' Mile, Newport Beach, CA

Coast Hwy through Mariners' Mile. There's nearly 100' of pavement here - plenty of room for cars, trucks, and buses, pedestrians and bicyclists. Simply re-striping could make it safer for everyone - and flow better too!

 

“Hit the ground spinning,” is what my colleague Frank would like the new Bike Safety Committee to do. “Spinning its wheels” is what it has been accused of, causing some members to not re-apply.

That’s too bad.

As a board member of a statewide bike organization (in another state), I’ve worked with many municipalities going through this process. It takes awhile to get everyone up to speed, as they learn the about infrastructure, traffic safety (often counterintuitive), which government dept. is responsible for what, forming good working relationhips, and establishing a workflow. In the beginning the people change a lot too, which slows things down further. Typically this takes a couple of years.

However, I was impressed that after a fatality that rocked the city, Newport Beach had formed a bike safety task force that got some actual paint on the ground within a year. Wow, I thought. These are the kind of people I want to work with.

It is frustrating to see nearby cities so far ahead of us. (In Newport, we like to think we’re top of the heap.)

Irvine and Huntington Beach have earned Bicycle Friendly Community awards. Long Beach continues to revitalize commercial districts, and generate tremendous PR, with its bike-ped and livability initiatives. Dana Point has acknowledged the thousands of cyclists riding through, with buffered bike lanes on PCH to ensure their safety. Redondo, Hermosa, and Manhattan Beaches have sharrows and bike parking along their main drags, which are otherwise like Corona del Mar — but for miles. How do they sustain all those healthy storefronts? By making it easy to get there by bike or on foot, where it’s physically impossible to cram in more cars.

Another nearby city has taken to heart the 2008 Complete Streets Act (click here to read more):

“There is a growing realization that streets should be designed more for people, not just cars,” said City of Carlsbad Deputy Transportation Director Bryan Jones. “It’s amazing how a few changes in street design can have such a positive effect on a community’s health, safety, economy and social vitality.”

Newport Beach will be making changes too. Will we take the Complete Streets Act to heart, and livability in general? Or get back to business as usual — grudgingly meeting the letter of the law, while cramming more cars through our neighborhoods?

What changes should we be making? Who will decide?

Carlsbad may have Bryan Jones’s expertise and leadership, but Newport Beach has plenty of talent of our own. And we’re surrounded by experts to learn from.

One of those experts is Brenda Miller of San Clemente’s myfeetfirst.org. In all my years working with state, local, and national bike organizations, I’ve met few people as knowlegable as Brenda. She’ll be meeting with us this Sunday, Feb. 26, 10am, at Peet’s in Corona del Mar. Anyone with a serious interest is welcome. I hope everyone who has applied for the new Bike Safety Committee will attend. With only 9 meetings in 2012, we need to get rolling now.

Please join us.

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