Sharrows in Newport Beach

Dear City of Newport Beach,

San Francisco Sharrows

How about painting Sharrows on the stretch of Irvine Avenue in front of Newport Harbor High School from 15th St to 16th St?

A big deal? No. In fact, this could be a simple decision.

After three days of biking around San Francisco earlier this summer it was obvious that Sharrows are everywhere in San Francisco. They are found on long stretches of road, in short bursts, up hills, through busy intersections and through quiet neighborhoods. It makes one think that Sharrows in San Francisco have an expedited approval process.

The powers that be in San Francisco must “get it” — Sharrows are simply a highly visible reminder of existing vehicle law. That’s it. They give no new rights to bicyclists or take away any rights from drivers. In other words, adding Sharrows to Newport Beach streets should be the opposite of the big deal that they presently seem to be.

Sharrows on Irvine Ave. in front of NHHS make sense. Here’s why:

The "bike lane" across from NHHS

  • It’s a residential and school area where slower, safer traffic speeds would be appreciated.
  • There are two lanes of traffic in both directions. Drivers can pass on the inside lanes, if necessary.
  • This stretch of Irvine Ave is a highly visible area that is used by numerous bike riders including many school aged riders.
  • The “bike lane” on the west side of Irvine Ave could be eliminated. This “bike lane” is probably worse than not having one at all. Why? Because vehicles parked in it force bike riders to weave dangerously in and out of traffic.
  • These Irvine Ave Sharrows could be extended both to the north (towards the Back Bay) and to the south (towards Cliff Drive) as time goes on. Maybe they would even evolve into the start of a grand Newport Beach plan to have safe bicycle routes to the beach.

Why now?
In a fortuitous case of timing, this stretch of Irvine Ave was just re-paved. As of yesterday though, the various markings had not yet been re-painted. In other words, a blank canvas. While getting Sharrows approved this fast might be tough even in San Francisco, why not immediately consider stopping the re-painting of the “bike lane” on the west side? A decision on Sharrows could then be made. Hopefully, a fast decision.

Soon to be sighted in Newport Beach?

Newport Beach, what do you say?

Comments

comments

This Post Has 7 Comments
  1. All great points Dan.

    When I rode by today the re-striping had been started, being painted as it was before. Oh well, another missed opportunity.

    The “door zone” bike lane on the school side is almost as bad as the one with cars parked in it on the West side. In either case, riding safely means left of the bike lane stripe. Let’s put sharrows in the road to let motorists know to expect people on bikes there, because they will be.

    In June(?), NBPD reported 2 out of 16 bike crashes for the month were doorings. There were several here when I was a kid riding to school at Ensign. Sharrows are a strong signal to stay clear of parked cars, and to ride in the direction of traffic. More cyclists are hit or killed riding against traffic than any other single stupid thing that they do.

    The biggest problem with Irvine Ave. though, is traffic calming. A raised crosswalk in the middle of the block would make driving at 25 more appealing than the 30-40 that is typical now.

  2. OK, I rode Irvine this afternoon, and tonight. The striping is complete. The bike lane on the school side seems wider, and the stripes are a little wider too. Now it’s (barely) possible to keep clear of car doors while (barely) staying within the bike lane. If this was intentional, it shows the city may recognize the problem. Signs of hope, perhaps?

    It’s too bad about the parked cars on the West side, and both sides between 15th and Cliff. There’s supposed to be no parking during school commute hours. But kids are coming and going well into the evening. What about those hours? And what about everyone else?

  3. Great link, David. Green Sharrows definitely convey a feeling of security to the bike rider. They also are an extremely visible reminder to both the bike rider and the driver of the fact the road is to be shared. If anyone needs proof, you don’t need to ride your bike to Cleveland. Just ride up to 2nd Street in Long Beach to see them in action locally.

    Since the original post, as Matt has pointed out, Newport Beach has repainted the questionable bike lanes back onto Irvine Blvd. Fortunately, all it will take to fix is some black cover-up paint. Followed, of course, by a green path with white Sharrows. Bested by Cleveland? Come on Newport Beach. Isn’t it our turn?

  4. Far too often this is the cyclists view when riding Pacific Coast Highway through Laguna Beach. Laguna doesn’t have true bicycle lanes, they are actually emergency parking lanes disguised as bicycle lanes. I suspect the general driving public couldn’t tell the difference while CALTRANS (responsible for putting them there) look the other way. After all, if the cyclist plows into the back of a parked Megga SUV, it must be his fault right? If the numbr one lane has a Semi in it bearing down on your left shoulder, the back of the SUV might be the better choice. Wednesday I rode a bike south on PCH to find an industrial sized ambulance parked in a spot like this. On the back of the van was stenciled “BLOOD DONOR”. How appropriate.

  5. How true. Wait until you see the photos that I will be posting of the newly painted bike lanes on Irvine Blvd. I called these bike lanes “questionable” in a previous comment. As these photos will show, that adjective is quite charitable.

  6. Les, you bring up a good point. Most of what people think are bike lane stripes are actually fog lines, to make it easier to drive in rain/fog or at night, and keep from hitting parked cars.

    If it’s not specifically marked as a bike lane, then it’s not a bike lane.

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