Nine are nominated for cycling safety committee

Nine Newport Beach residents were named nominees for the Citizen's Bicycle Safety Committee at Tuesday night's City Council meeting.

The possible appointees named in a city staff report are: Scott Bergey, a retired American Airlines captain; Thomas Croxton, general manager with Circle Automobile Group; Barbara Danzi, chief information security officer for Garda, a cash logistics company; Former Mayor John Heffernan; Denis LaBonge, a former member of the Motorcycle Industry Council; Sean Matsler, a land-use attorney; Anthony Petros of LSA Associates Inc.; Stephen Sholkoff, former chairman of the Bicycle Trails Advisory Committee; and John Tzinberg, owner of Bike Religion.

If appointed to the committee on Oct. 13, seat holders will have a one-year term and may reappointed for up to four years.

Tzinberg, Matsler and Petros also served on the city's Bicycle Safety Task Force last year, which was formed in response to a fatal cycling crash on Ridge Park Road.

Two more fatal crashes occurred after the formulation of the task force, leading to its request in May that a permanent committee be formed.

On their applications, nominees called for strengthened relations among motorists and cyclists, as well as increased efforts for safety measures and education by the city and police.

"I am particularly concerned about right-of-way infractions against bicyclist and motorist," LaBonge wrote on his application. "I believe that Newport Beach can lead the way in establishing the ground rules for a better way for all of us to share the road."

Additionally, the city is moving forward on recommendations made by the task force last year, according to a memo sent out by City Manager David Kiff.

These include stenciling "sharrows" — markings painted on the pavement that remind drivers and cyclist to share the road — educational messages on Facebook and Twitter, a safety brochure and a meeting between cyclists and police officers being coordinated by Police Chief Jay Johnson.

These measures will be the first steps toward safety for both drivers and cyclists, according to Tzinberg.

"I believe that putting in lanes and marking roads is only a small step in making the city bicycle-friendly," Tzinberg wrote in his application. "There needs to be driver, bicycle and pedestrian education. There needs to be outreach with students to teach them bicycle safety. There needs to be a liaison with city police and local bicycling [groups]. This is just the start."

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