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David Huntsman, in response to Fernleaf Ave, writes:

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 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 into 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?



Frank Peters

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