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Days after cyclist’s death, Newport Beach OKs $22-million safety plan

In October 2012, Kurt Bahneman and his dog, Annabelle, prepare for a memorial ride in tribute to two Newport Beach cyclists who died the month before.
In October 2012, Kurt Bahneman and his dog, Annabelle, prepare for a memorial ride in tribute to two Newport Beach cyclists who died the month before.
(Daily Pilot)

Days after a cyclist was struck and killed by a motorist on East Coast Highway, Newport Beach leaders this week approved a $22-million long-range plan to make the city more bike friendly.

The Bicycle Master Plan, approved unanimously by the City Council on Tuesday night, is the culmination of years of work on the issue, the Daily Pilot reported.

“This is visionary,” said Councilman Tony Petros, who helped Councilwoman Nancy Gardner, a longtime bike-safety advocate, spearhead efforts to develop the plan.

Though discussions about the plan at times got a little “passionate,” Petros said, “we represented the best for this community, and as a result … cycling and walking will be safer.”

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A holistic approach to bike-safety improvements was first proposed in 2012 after two local cyclists were struck and killed by vehicles in two days. Their deaths stunned the cycling community and added momentum to a major push for change.

The most recent fatality occurred Oct. 19 when Shaun Eagleson, 30, of Fountain Valley was hit by a pickup on East Coast Highway.

The current plan lays out a framework to add 46 miles to the city’s network of biking infrastructure over the next 20 years, while providing education programs for cyclists. Officials will also be required to more closely track bike-related incidents.

Currently, Newport has about 93 miles of off-road bike trails, bike lanes, on-street bike routes and bicycle sidewalks, according to a city report.

The city estimated that it will cost $22 million to fully implement the bike plan.

Cowan writes for Times Community News.

Follow the reporter on Twitter: @JillCowan


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