In an attempt to make the streets in Corona del Mar safer for bicyclists, the Newport Beach City Council voted late Tuesday to approve sharrows along East Coast Highway.
Sharrows, or shared lane markers for bikes and cars, are painted on streets that are too narrow for a bicyclist and a vehicle to share side-by-side. Sharrows are intended to make drivers aware about the presence of bikes and to remind motorists and bicyclists about the need to share the road. In CDM, the sharrows will be deployed along East Coast Highway from MacArthur Boulevard to Poppy Avenue. The council's vote -- which included Councilman Steve Rosanky's vote in opposition and did not include Councilwoman Leslie Daigle's vote as she was absent -- follows a recommendation from the city's Bike Safety Committee in May to support sharrows in the village.
"The idea is so when that car door opens, folks riding bicycles are able to get by safely without getting hit by that door," Steve Badum, the city's public works director, explained to the council.
Several residents spoke in support of the sharrows, including Mark Goodley who was hit by a car June 10 while cycling on East Coast Highway.
"I stand before you as a survivor of a horrible traffic accident last month. The accident from looking at the diagram could have largely been avoided if sharrows would have been there from the point of view of driver awareness," Goodley said. "My wife and I were finishing a short shopping trip for bread and cheese and riding back what we thought was a leisurely ride back home. A car came and made a left hand turn in front of us at a very high rate of speed and we didn't see them and there is some miscommunication whether they saw us or not."
Sharrows are already in place on Bayside Drive and have also been installed in other cities including Laguna Beach, Oceanside and Long Beach. Mayor Nancy Gardner said she has some concerns after hearing from Frank Peters, who is a member of the bike committee.
"He has commented that using Bayside that he felt it almost made the drivers more aggressive, that they resented him and that's an issue," Gardner said.
Councilman Ed Selich addressed Gardner's concern and said Bayside and East Coast Highway are very different areas of travel.
"As a frequent driver on that street, I don't resent the bicyclists; I have no problem with them," he said. "The difference in Corona del Mar is you got two lanes, and on Bayside Drive you only have one single lane that is very cramped."
Resident Barry Allen, a retired lawyer, also shared his worries with the council and said he doesn't think sharrows are a good idea.
"I think we ought to have signs put up saying it's not safe to ride bikes through Corona del Mar," Allen said. "I've seen legs off and no damage to cars and heads of with no damage to car. Let's face it, cars and bicyles don’t mix."
Before the sharrows are painted along East Coast Highway, Gardner said an outreach program will get underway to educate the community and motorists about the new safety feature.
Sharrows are approved as a traffic control device through the California Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.