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Overheard Last Night

Pizza and beer combined with an almost full moon — that was the setting as a dozen bike advocates from as far south as San Clemente gathered at my house to kick around bike safety priorities that hopefully Newport Beach will consider.

Although we met 2 weeks ago, Monday night will be the first working meeting of the Bike Safety Committee since the death of 2 women cyclists. Everyone has ideas, so Orange County Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Pete Van Nuys proposed getting concerned cyclists together to hear everyone out. Maybe some kind of consensus could be brought to the meeting.

But whenever you get ardent advocates in a room, or out on a moonlit deck, the discussion wanders all over the map. Errett Cord pulled the ranting into focus when he decried the traffic speeds on Newport Coast:

People are flying up the hill; the speeds are ridiculous.

Yet lowering speed limits won’t change motorists’ behaviors and might make them unenforceable. Bike lanes, Sharrows — they’re all just paint and didn’t prevent one of the recent deaths. A separate, protected bike lane would.

Then this afternoon I found this STREETFILMS video; it’s about Vancouver’s experience in separating cyclists from auto traffic. Take a look; you might like what you see:

Vancouver’s Velo Vision: Safe Biking for All Ages from Streetfilms on Vimeo

Is Newport Beach condemned to start at the very beginning? Must we argue for equal treatment for cyclists then be satisfied with a bucket of paint?

Why can’t we jump ahead and adopt some of the infrastructure innovations that cities like Portland and Vancouver are experimenting with? Time is too precious to waste while we take baby steps with Bike Lanes 101 and Sharrows.

The separated bike lanes that these other cities are installing would go a long way to protecting cyclists. At the same time it would encourage more people to get out of their cars.

Come to the meeting, 4:30pm Monday October 1st in the Friends Room at the Central Library on Avocado. If you ride a bike or love someone who does, we need you there to make your voice heard.

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