Regarding a proposal to eliminate automobile lanes to accommodate the addition of bicycle lanes on Glenneyre Street:
Over the past several weeks I have read a number of newspaper columns and watched town council meetings wherein a handful of people who refer to themselves as complete-street advocates have proposed the idea of reducing automobile lanes on Glenneyre Street to accommodate bicyclists.
Considering that automobile traffic congestion is one of our most difficult and challenging problems, I am very disturbed by their proposal.
While the idea of creating a bike-friendly environment is noble, we have to face certain realities here in Laguna Beach, where land constraints can't be magically ignored.
Traffic congestion is one of Laguna Beach's biggest problems. If we reduce two lanes in each direction down to one lane in each direction on Glenneyre Street, we will increase congestion, decrease ingress/egress access during emergency situations, and ultimately push frustrated drivers further into our neighborhoods, where kids and pets will be put in harm's way.
While we all see hundreds of bike riders enjoying Coast Highway (especially during early-morning summertime hours), we rarely see bike riders on Glenneyre, with the exception of my nephew, who is one of the few kids who actually rides his bike to high school every day.
While being bike-friendly is a great idea, considering how vertical most of our town is, how many of our local residents do you think will actually use their bikes to pedal into town? Can you imagine pedaling your groceries up to Top of the World?
Would adding bike lanes to Glenneyre really improve our bike-rider's safety? Could we divert bike riders off Coast Highway onto Glenneyre Street? I don't think so. Besides, if we did, that would create a whole new set of problems. For instance, bike riders often don't really stop at stop signs (with the exception of my nephew, of course).
Will the bike riders stop for numerous pedestrians who cross Glenneyre every day, or for the drivers (like me) trying to cross Glenneyre on their way to and from work? I'm not so sure.
I hope the complete-street advocates can help us realistically evaluate things and offer an alternate recommendation that makes sense. For instance, Corona del Mar recently added signage to its roads that reminds drivers to share the road with bike riders. To me, as a former bike rider who considered a 100 mile ride as "the first half," that makes much more sense.
Kudos to the LagunaTunes
Bravo to the LagunaTunes Community Chorus for their Sunday afternoon "Making Spirits Bright" concert at St. Mary's Episcopal Church. The LagunaTunes 50-member choir performed with its new director of the larger chorus, Bob Gunn, along with returning conductor, Cristin Cornell, directing the Chamber Music Ensemble. It was a glorious afternoon of outstanding choral music.
The audience of 250 people filled the sanctuary long before the concert started, necessitating Rector Rechter's asking for more chairs to be brought in to fill the aisles and the front and back of the auditorium. Patti Jo Kiraly, president of the LagunaTunes, introduced Gunn and the retiring director of the chorus who was in the audience, Roxanna Ward. The Chamber Ensemble sang nine songs, familiar carols and new renditions of old ones. The performance was flawless. Captivating the audience was soprano soloist Sarah Geocaris singing "O Holy Night." Deborah Glass was the accompanist.
Then the LagunaTunes continued the performance, singing many familiar Christmas songs and carols. "It's Beginning To Look Like Christmas" began their second half. "Fruitcake," "Dig That Crazy Santa Claus" and a very interesting new number, "Et In Terra Pax," along with "Ave Maria," added classical numbers to their repertoire. Many people in the audience remarked on the joy the singers expressed — smiling throughout and some even gracefully moving to the music. Soloists for the LagunaTunes in different songs were Cathy Itnye, Carla Bruce, Karen McBride, Randy Hatfield, Jacoby Hickerson, Kimberly Clark, Philip Hagemann, Penny Leka, Frankie Harrigan, Gary Greene and Rob Harryman.
The concert concluded with Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus," for which Gunn invited the audience to sing along with the choirs if they so chose. Many did and it added to the joyous spirit, and indeed made many spirits bright for the Christmas season. I was reminded that when I was a little girl of 4 years old and for many years thereafter, my aunt always took me to Philadelphia to hear my mother and father sing the "Hallelujah Chorus" in the Bach Chorale, directed by Dr. James Dash. Seventy some years dashed away as I listened to "Hallelujah, Hallelujah" once more. I and everyone in the audience was once again inspired and at peace. The concert was wonderful.
Fortunate to have heroes in community
This past Monday during our regular morning workout one of the participants in our group suddenly fell to the ground and was in apparent severe distress. Fortunately, two of the individuals in our group were Laguna Beach lifeguards. What took place in the next several minutes was the most amazing performance of competence and professionalism that I have ever witnessed. These two lifeguards proceeded to calmly and methodically administer life-saving CPR to our fallen friend who was suffering from a severe heart attack. You only have to hear, "He is not breathing, there is no pulse or heartbeat," to know the situation is dire.
Through their diligence and teamwork, a result of their Department of Marine Safety training and their own personal commitment to their profession, they were able to keep our friend alive and stable until the "cavalry" arrived. The fire department and paramedic personnel arrived swiftly, and with the same professionalism and efficiency, they continued to perform life-saving services, stabilize our friend and ultimately transport him to the hospital. I am extremely happy to say he is in good condition and on his way to recovery.
There is no doubt in my mind the lifeguards' and fire departments' actions on Monday saved our friend's life. I know the two lifeguards personally and as much as I would like to mention their names, I know they would be embarrassed by any attention brought to them.
Speaking for myself and the other participants in the morning workout, we feel extremely fortunate that they were there Monday morning and blessed they are a part of our community, protecting us and our families. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts.
Traffic measurements needed before decision made
The Task Force for Complete Streets has met with city officials monthly since 2008. In that time, the task force offered 98 interventions for street improvement and the city acted on only two.
To propose a traffic-calming project on the grand scale of Glenneyre Street — bike-lanes and roundabouts — coincident with the local election served to get two left-wingnuts reelected. It didn't work.
Furthermore, to spend $10,000 for three design alternatives from an urban design firm prior to preparing traffic measurement data is putting the cart before the horse. Without having traffic measurements for each mode of travel — walking, cycling, busing and motor-vehicles — the design firm cannot make an educated assessment of current conditions or offer effective real solutions for traffic-calming measures on Glenneyre or anywhere else.
If city officials were paying attention the past four years, they would know better, and Laguna residents would be better served by city government.