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Commentary: Cycling is unsafe in the village

September 28, 2012|By Allen Drucker

With the idea of improving bicycle safety and encouraging bicycle riding, the city of Newport Beach has added bicycle "sharrow" markings and other signage to East Coast Highway, between MacArthur Boulevard and Poppy Avenue, and on Bayside Drive through Corona del Mar Village.

As someone who has ridden a bicycle thousands of miles over many busy streets and highways in Southern California, I feel very strongly that encouraging bicyclists to ride on these narrow, congested roads is ridiculous. If anything, signs should be posted barring bicyclists from these dangerous routes, especially when much safer routes around Corona del Mar are available.

This portion of PCH is extremely crowded. Hundreds of shops and restaurants in this area insure that cars are constantly being moved in and out of the street parking spaces, while others pull into and out of off-street parking lots. There are many side streets that intersect PCH in the Village, which are always full of resident and tourist vehicles turning onto and off of the highway.

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As a major thoroughfare, large semi trucks routinely travel this very tight portion of the highway. As car doors open, as pedestrians cross the street and motorcycles split lanes, for anyone in their right mind to suggest that this is a safe route for bicyclists and that bicycle riding on this road is to be encouraged, is just insane.

Bayside Drive in this area is one lane in either direction and some portions are extremely narrow, with barely enough room for autos at some points. In other areas, the road has sharp twists and blind turns, while in still other areas, there are cars parked on both sides of the road, with absolutely no room to spare.

Sometimes, just one open car door can stop traffic. Pedestrians constantly cross from one side to the other, without a crosswalk in sight. Oftentimes, construction crews work in the area, and the pavement can be wet and slippery with debris.

The double yellow line down the center, prevents motorists from moving over enough to pass bicyclists, without breaking the law and putting themselves and others in danger of a head on collision. Add a few bicyclists to this mix, spurred on by the sight of "sharrow" markings — so they feel "safe," and we have a recipe for disaster — it's just a matter of time.

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