Sharrows, traffic projects and ghost bikes were the highlighted discussions at Monday's Newport Beach bike safety committee meeting.
About 30 people attended the meeting at the Central Library and listened to staff presentations about the 50 sharrows, or shared lane markers for bikes and cars, that are expected to be painted along East Coast Highway in Corona del May by Nov. 1. The Newport Beach City Council approved the CDM sharrows in July, but the installation has been moved up due to the city's recent bicyclist fatalities.
"This is good news," committee member Tony Petros said. "I'm glad to hear it's happening sooner than we planned."
Newport Beach police Lt. Jeff Lu said once the sharrows are deployed on East Coast Highway, officers will be stepping up enforcement so the community knows what the sharrows mean.
"Sharrows do not create any new traffic laws," Lu said. "We just need drivers to know bikes are there, and bikes to know drivers are there. It's unfortunate that they need to be reminded but we will be increasing our presence to make sure everyone gets along on the roads."
In addition to increased enforcement in the village, city spokeswoman Tara Finnigan said there are plans to place street signs and banners on both entrances into CDM on East Coast Highway to get the message out about the sharrows.
"Let's put these signs out and try them and see what connects best with the drivers," Finnigan said.
Committee members also suggested an outreach campaign to residents via mailers and advertisements, and committee member Frank Peters recommended the signs read "Bikes May Use Full Lane."
City Manager Dave Kiff touched on the subjects of ghost bikes appearing when a bicyclist is killed on the road. The city's policy is to allow the memorial to stay in place for 30 days, then have it removed.
"We respect those 30 days as they are a memorial to the victims," Kiff said. "But at some point the memorial itself also becomes a traffic hazard."
Also at the meeting
- Lu said in September there were 10 bike related accidents in the city. Six of those were the fault of the bicyclists and one was the fault of the driver. Lu said the other three are still under investigation, two of which were the fatalities involving Sarah Leaf and Catherine "Kit" Campion-Ritz.
- Public Works Director Dave Webb said a proposed project would make changes to Newport Boulevard. The plan is to widen Newport Boulevard by adding an extra northbound lane from 30th to 32nd streets and one extra southbound lane from Via Lido to 32nd Street. The on-street bike lane will also be extended from Via Lido to 30th Street.
- Webb said another proposed project would widen the westbound side of West Coast Highway at Old Newport Boulevard to make way for a third through lane, a right turn pocket and a bike lane.
- The committee decided to postpone looking into a citywide bike sharing program until next year in order to stay focused on the bike safety issues.