Over a few mornings of the Labor Day Weekend I spent some time at the bottom of Newport Coast Drive, where Debra Deem was struck by a minivan (she died the next day of her injuries).
There isn’t much to say that every cyclist doesn’t already know. It is one of the most dangerously designed intersections around, and it is the only way through town. There are no side roads. There is no bike lane. There is a narrow and poorly maintained sidewalk, with a pond of water deep enough to sustain aquatic life where it is buckled the worst, but even if cyclists did want to ride on sidewalks, it is illegal to do so in Newport Beach.
We understand Debra was rear-ended or sideswiped by a driver who cut from the right hand through lane to the right turn lane, an example of the kind of outrageous and unnecessarily dangerous “free right turn” so often found in Newport Beach where the driver does not anticipate the possibility of stopping like one does at virtually all other surface street intersections.
Why the need to provide freeway style turns and speeds here? There’s no good reason. Cyclists use this intersection. Pedestrians use this intersection. Not that any surface street should allow high speeds and uncontrolled turns, but this is the gateway to Newport Beach, to a community. Motorists should be slowed here and reminded they are entering a place where people live, not a freeway.
Anyway, here are some pictures of a hapless cyclist trying to cut across traffic to go straight up the Coast Highway after being (mis)guided up the wrong side of the right turn lane by the false bike lane (actually road shoulder) on westbound Coast Highway:
And here is a compilation of video of cyclists and motorists negotiating the same conflict: