Safe Holiday Wishes on PCH

According to AAA, more than 43.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles from home or farther during this Thanksgiving holiday weekend. About 90 percent of those travelers–39 million people–plan to travel by automobile.

In a related note, Doug  Irving of the OC Register reports on results of a study that found more drugged than drunk drivers on California roadways like the drivers that killed Donald Murphy and Candace Tift; killed while riding their bikes in Newport by drivers impaired by prescription drugs.

In the most medicated nation on the planet, this study should really come as no surprise, but it’s encouraging to see the recognition, and quantification of the issue.

When drugged drivers are combined with poor road design, construction zones, lax local enforcement, and lenient courts, it is people riding their bikes on the same roadways that pay the highest price.

One such roadway is the Pacific Coast Highway which also goes by various other names depending which city or county it happens to pass through. Sadly bikes riders are typically an afterthought in the consideration of construction, road maintenance, or even public transportation along this roadway.

To illustrate; in Huntington Beach a short section of the northbound roadway’s shoulder was closed to accomplish the construction of a guardrail which forces riders into the high speed traffic lane. After the work was completed, the obstructions remain without making allowances for safe cycle travel between the k-rail and guardrail.

In Seal Beach; a public transit bus parks in the bike lane causing risky merges and poor sight lines for bike riders and drivers alike.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that the k-rails on PCH will be removed this coming Sunday morning, a week ahead of when Caltrans emphatically said they wouldn’t be removed until 12/1. While we also requested the a temporary path for safe travel through the construction zone, at this time we don’t know if the maintenance crew was able to get that done. Your report is welcomed!

With the holiday traffic and condition of drivers as noted above, please exercise greater care when traveling this roadway, especially through Newport Beach as seen below:

Pacific Coast Highway Injuries

Pacific Coast Highway Injuries

We’ll have an update on the Seal Beach bus parking issue when we receive an update from the responsible agency.

Have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday weekend!

Safety never sleeps.

A Slice of Huntington Beach

As Newport’s neighbor to the north, Huntington Beach shares the “road of dreams”, better known locally as PCH or Coast Highway, or formally known as The Pacific Coast Trail.

Garden Grove edged out Huntington Beach in a tie with Newport Beach for “bronze” or third place in the most dangerous cities to ride a bike in the county leaving HB to “improve” to 4th place.

10 bike riders were killed with 1,055 injured since 2001.

The deadly streets of Huntington Beach:

HB Deadly StreetsRT 1, or PCH and Brookhurst are two roads where half of fatal rider collisions occurred.

The most current Huntington Beach records are from 7/28/12 which shows at least some county records are making it to the CHP.

Abbreviations used:

FTS = Failed to Stop, FTY = Failed to Yield, FTR = Far to the Right

And now for the pie charts!

HB Dead

According to the assigned fault as shown, bike riders were responsible for their own death 49% of the time although 20% of the fatality’s fault was undetermined so it could range as high as 69% .

Rider faults seem evenly split until you notice that 2 are due to BUI or Bicycling Under the Influence, with another DUI/BUI listed in the “unknown” category making 3 riders dead thanks to the impairment of some intoxicant.

Drivers in  Huntington Beach failed to stop, signal, or drive on the right side of the road resulting in another 3 riders dead.

HB Injured

Riders were responsible for just under 75% of their injuries by colliding with other vehicles.

Just like in Santa Ana and Garden Grove, riding on the wrong side of the road, or not far enough to the right to suit the citing officer is the predominant cause of collisions. Given the tourist factor and beach-side flavor it is more likely that wrong way riders aware of the proper rules of the road, choose to ignore them to make their way about HB.  Better signage and road treatments like sharrows could help direct riders to “go with the flow”.  Selective enforcement actions also would help reduce rider collisions perhaps by issuing warnings, then citations for repeat (observed) offenders.

Certainly an educational outreach is needed and in fact, rumor has it that a class is scheduled this coming November 15th with the on-road portion on the 17th at the Rodgers Senior Center. We could not confirm the class schedule or registration because it’s not listed on the calendar as yet, and at press time the online registration system was out of service.  Should things get back to normal, online registration will be available at Check the City’s calendar for updates, or see the class announcement here.

When is it safe to ride?

The following chart is a compilation of injuries as they occurred in 3 hour segments over the course of a year.

HB Collision Time

One third of collisions occur between 6 a.m. and noon, with 50% happening from noon till 6 p.m.  which might indicate too much sun and suds for clear riding judgement. 17% of collisions happen from 6 p.m. to midnight, while the hours from midnight to 6 a.m. account for the rest at less than 3%.

Types of Collisions:

Shown here are the types of collisions for Huntington Beach:

HB Collisions

With almost half of injury collisions occurring due to riders riding “against the flow”, we see an almost perfect correlation to the expected outcome with 53% of riders being broadsided.  Again, it would be wrong to to notice broadside collisions, with a predominate wrong way riding to infer that riders are getting broadsided because they aren’t where they’re expected to be, as drivers aren’t looking for traffic coming from the right. That would be just wrong so we won’t do it.

Huntington Beach has a tough challenge to make the streets safer for everyone, from the busy tourist beach scene, to the bustling inner streets of the city. We’re encouraged that they are almost midway through the development of a draft City Bike Plan, however much can be done before the plan is complete to mitigate behavioral causes for collisions as noted above.

We welcome working with city and county staff and other agencies to develop an effective outreach program to better meet the safety needs of all bike riders in the city.

Road Donuts Good for Diet?

Are donuts good for the diet?
When speaking about roadways the answer appears to be yes. Of course, in this case donuts refers to roundabouts such as we see in Orange or Irvine.
When seen from above, roundabouts look like donuts placed at intersections.

City of Orange

City of Orange “Road-Donut” with a park

City of Irvine – Twice as Good

Roundabouts are different than traffic circles in that there no signals or controls. Traffic in the circle has priority, or the right of way over traffic entering the circle forcing drivers to slow down and enter the circle as gaps in existing traffic permits. Because there are no traffic controls the flow is continuous, resulting in increasing the traffic throughput through the intersection.

Properly designed roundabouts don’t allow for tangential entries. All entries point to the center of the roundabout forcing vehicles to decrease their speed to navigate to the right, although some modern designs have flared entries by adding a lane for increased capacity. Pedestrian safety is improved by routing separate crosswalks away from the intersection so they only have to deal with traffic in one direction at a time.

The problem for traffic/ transportation engineers is maintaining the flow-rate to areas downstream of the roundabout so  a shift in congestion (and resulting delays) does not occur.


Roundabouts or gyratories were designed in 1877 by the Architect for the City of Paris, Eugène Hénard. In 1907 the Place de l’Etoile became the first French gyratory, followed by several others in the city. American architect William Phelps Eno designed New York City’s Columbus Circle which was built in 1905. The main difference in the two men’s designs lay in the diameter of the center island. Hénard favored an island of at least 8 meters (26 feet), while Eno favored a smaller diameter. Perhaps it is from here that we have the “Portland” and “Seattle” designs of today.  Regardless, the United States favored traffic circles and rotaries being controlled by signal devices for the rapidly growing automobile population which resulted in such traffic tie-ups that they fell out of favor by the 1950s.

Land values also contributed to the demise of circular intersections because eliminating land consumed by the safer free flowing roundabouts, or signalized traffic circles, meant that buildings could be built with greater density and greater profit.

Today and the Future

After recently taking a look at the intersection of Bayside and PCH, and every intersection along the way to Laguna Beach, the question arises, “could what was old become new again”? Therefore as a thought experiment we present the following ”

Proposed Makeover

Proposed Makeover in Newport Beach

Each blue dot represents an appropriately designed and implemented roundabout built to the highest safety standards and Complete Streets guidelines. Traffic would flow smoothly to and from the coast as well as up and down through Newport Beach, making this area not only a pleasure to travel through (as in commuting) but a pleasure to travel to (as in tourists).

Since this area was bought from the state by the City of Newport Beach, we suggest a serious consideration be made by city planners in their five year planning strategy to accommodate greater numbers of roadway users while increasing their safety on the City’s roads.

While we don’t have the hard numbers, some savings will result from decreased costs of city response to collisions, and elimination of electrical signals and their associated maintenance. With minimal reconfiguration of existing infrastructure, we are confident of the merits of this design. Maybe in a future post we’ll put up some soft numbers to quantify the potential return.

And there you have it, a brief introduction of roundabouts which if applied properly, will serve the County and City well in reducing speed, reducing air pollution, increasing traffic throughput, and most importantly increasing roadway safety for all road users far into the future.

Cyclist Killed, Pedestrian Injured in Newport Beach

Update 9/17/12: We’ve learned that Sarah ran her successful business from Shape-Up Fitness Center located at 2101 E. Coast Hwy, Corona Del Mar, CA 92625.

RIP Sarah Leaf

RIP Sarah Leaf

Sarah in the OC Register

Sarah in the OC Register 2010

If you’re in the area…

Late Update 9/16/12:

There are angels…Looking at the forlorn cup with the single flower and the sagging bouquet nestled in the shrubs, I felt there must be more – and a man appeared from nowhere with 3 balloons and asked if I knew her. We tied the balloons onto a sturdy branch next to the bouquet and he was gone. Deep in thought again I heard a car behind me stop and a strong male voice shouted out,”God bless your friend bro!” and he was gone. And so is she, and I am left wondering why.

 Memorial Flower  More Flowers  Balloons Added by an Angel

Coroner Report

Update 9/15/12: According to Sgt. Mark Hamilton, “The identity of the victim is still unknown at this time. Anyone with information or who witnessed the collision is urged to call the Newport Beach Police Department Traffic Division at 949-644-3742″. If anyone is missing a loved one that was riding a blue bike with white tape and saddle in the Newport area, and they haven’t returned home yet,  please contact the NPBPD.

Update: 16 cycle collisions since 2002 occurred, but this poor rider has the distinction of being the first fatality at this intersection. Fault for the other collisions were 8 for the cyclists, 6 for the motorists, and 2 that were “unknown”. Although there is a sliver of a bike lane in the right hand portion as you come off the bridge, it would be pure conjecture on our part as to what may have happened. The pictures from the accident scene are at the OC Register here.

Update: added map of the location, as we await full statement from Sgt. Mark Hamilton of the NPBPD. Although what is known is that both parties were eastbound and the truck was making a right turn onto Bayside, the police are still taking witness statements and investigating the cause of the collision. The driver of the truck (as yet un-named) remained at the scene.

Breaking – Details are still sketchy but what we do know as we learn from this quick article in the Corona del Mar Today:

A truck struck and killed a bicyclist about 10:35 a.m. today at Bayside Drive and East Coast Highway, a fire official confirmed.

Cyclist Killed 9-14-12

Cyclist Killed 9-14-12

The woman, who was not immediately identified, was in her 20s or 30s, said Newport Beach Battalion Chief Jeff Boyles. She was riding eastbound on Coast Highway when a stake bed truck hit and ran over her, he said.

Prayers for the family and friends of the rider…RIP

Update: From Sgt. Mark Hamilton, “at about 0719 a.m., a 40-year-old female driver turning right onto PCH from N/B Jamboree Road collided with a 75-year-old male pedestrian near the S/E corner of that intersection. The female driver remained at the scene. The pedestrian was transported to Mission Hospital with moderate injuries. Traffic Investigators are currently conducting an investigation as to the cause of the collision. Anyone with information or who witnessed the collision is urged to call the Newport Beach Police Department Traffic Division at 949-644-3742. ”

A few hours earlier, a car struck a pedestrian at East Coast Highway and Jamboree Road. The victim was in a crosswalk when struck, Boyles said. The victim was taken to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana.

Best healing wishes to the survivor.

Updates will be provided as we receive them.