Cyclists across Newport Beach petitioned city officials to take immediate steps to make the roads safer for bicycles despite official reports that show a decline in bicycle-related fatalities. This petition came less than one week after the Newport Beach cyclist death of Debra Deem at a Bicycle Master Plan Oversight Committee meeting.
At the meeting on Tuesday some of those gathered wore black T-shirts commemorating last year’s memorial ride held after cycling accidents took the lives of Sarah Leaf on Sept. 14 and Catherine Campion-Ritz on Sept. 15. Lt. Jeff Lu told informed them that the death of Deem in a collision with a minivan Aug. 28 is still under investigation.
Newport Beach officials stated that within the first six months of this year bicycle-involved incidents dropped 6 percent to 62 from 66 in 2012. But several frustrated attendees at the meeting asked for new signage and striping at select Pacific Coast Highway intersections in hopes that the numbers would continue to decline. MacArthur Boulevard, Newport Coast Drive, Jamboree Road and Dover Drive were a few of the intersections mentioned.
Adding bike markings is an issue that’s been raised in the past, said cyclist Ron Wortman. But not all fall under city control. Some roadways are controlled by Caltrans.
“Who at Caltrans is unresponsive?” he asked. “This is really serious.”
Others concerned attendees criticized aggressive drivers who fail to accommodate cyclists. “I literally had someone right behind me blaring their horn,” said Stacy Kline, who serves on the board of Orange County Wheelmen, a recreational cycling group.
“Sharrows are golden,” cyclist Pete van Nuys said. “I don’t get the glares, and I don’t get the honks.”
He along with others credited the committee and officials for improvements, such as shared-pavement markings, sharrows, which were painted on some roadways last years. The results have been spectacular as motorists are now noticing.
A proposed bicycle master plan is underway that will take the committee approximately 12 months to produce. The plan according to consultants could be compromised of these four key components: education, encouragement, enforcement and evaluation.
Education could include outreach to children and adults, traffic safety campaigns and public service announcements; encouragement could mean new signage, fun rides and commuter incentives; enforcement could bring stepped up speed limit monitoring and bike patrols.
If you or someone you know was injured on the street while riding your bicycle, speak with a Newport Beach bike accident lawyer today.