Safe Routes to the Beach

Brenda Miller and Foxy at Peets Coffee in CdM Plaza

No offense, but I dread visiting Laguna Beach in the summer, too much traffic!

The Newport pier in August is no better — you better come by bike or else you’ll be circling the neighborhood looking for a parking place instead of spreading out your towel on the sand.

You know what I’m talking about — there are just too many cars at our most popular beaches in the summer, but who can blame them for making the trip? It’s gorgeous in Newport Beach almost all year long, so how do we accommodate the crowds?

If more people came to the beach by bike there’d be less congestion. We’d all enjoy a healthier environment and the cyclists would benefit from the exercise. Sounds like an idea with a lot of merit.

That’s just one of the ideas we kicked around with Brenda Miller today. She’s a League Cycling Instructor (LCI), as certified by the League of American Bicyclists; she’s a well spoken and knowledgeable bicycle advocate, too, so when I heard of her pending trip to the Central Library this week, I invited a few friends to join us for coffee. The bikeNewportBeach gang showed up to listen.


The Santa Ana River Trail brings bike riding beach goers from as far away as Anaheim. It's off-road, quiet and safe.

“Focus on economic development,” was one pearl from Brenda; “You’ll get the merchants behind you.”

She’s rght; when all the parking places are full, an economic plateau is reached.

The City is on a revitalization kick which sometimes seems like welfare for well connected developers, but the goal is to improve under-performing neighborhoods. How can the City bring more impact to these communities? By improving pedestrian spaces, as is planned for Corona del Mar, and offering transportation alternatives to cars.

Things started to click. I remembered Bike Safety Committee member John Heffernan commenting at last month’s meeting, “We’ve got to concentrate on corridors.” Brenda jumped on that idea and coined “Safe Routes to the Beach”, similar to the national advocacy programs for Safe Routes to Schools; “It’s politically unassailable, so you’ll get the support you need.”

Which way to the beach? Bike riding beach goers from Irvine
face serious traffic challenges when they come off the Back Bay loop.

If you start thinking of Safe Routes to the Beach, just what are the corridors we’re talking about?

Coast Hwy jumps to the top of everyone’s list, but there’s extra red-tape involved because it’s controlled by Caltrans. “How about the peninsula? The Back Bay loop?” The ideas started flowing.

Come to the next Bike Safety Meeting at 4:30pm on Monday January 9th at the Oasis Senior Center. Help us work out the issues as we propose Safe Routes to the Beach.

Dan Murphy, Brenda Miller and Matt O'Toole

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Frank Peters

listen to my podcast shows at cdmCyclist.com

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. This was an excellent meeting. Brenda was very insightful and is a real force for bicycle advocacy. Your headline “Safe Routes to the Beach” definitely captured her takeaway idea of the day. How could anyone be opposed to getting bikes safely to the jewel of Newport Beach- the beaches? This just might be the catch-phrase needed for the City, bicyclists, merchants and residents to rally around.

  2. Every time I take the Santa Ana River Trail to Fry’s (28 minutes from Cannery Village) I see families with small children riding their bikes to the beach, from as far away as Anaheim. It’s easier for them to ride to the beach than many families in Newport!

  3. Matt, you are right. How convoluted is that? Ridiculous enough that it needs to be repeated: Many families that live in Newport Beach have a more difficult time riding to the beach than those that live as far away as Anaheim. The idea of “Safe Routes to the Beach” is an excellent one. Maybe the newly extended Newport Beach Bike Safety Committee will find this idea something they can get behind with enthusiastic support.

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