NEWPORT BEACH — In the shadow of three cycling deaths since 2009, Newport Beach city crews on Friday added an extra reminder along one stretch of highway that drivers need to share the road with bicyclists.
On Bayside Drive, between El Paseo Drive and Carnation Avenue, city staff added sharrows — painted markings on the street that depict two white arrows and a bicycle.
The city is including the markings only on this stretch of two-lane road, about three-quarters of a mile long, as a test-run before possibly adding sharrows to other parts of the city.
Three people have been killed in car vs. bicycle accidents in Newport Beach since the summer of 2009.
On July 23, 2009, Darryl Benefiel, 43, was killed at Ridge Park Road and Tesoro after being fatally struck by a car turning left into a residential community. In December, Donald Murphy, 49, was killed during a morning ride on Jamboree Road when he was hit from behind by a car that drifted toward the curb.
This past July, Michael Nine, 43, died after he was unable to avoid hitting a truck blocking the road on a downward slope on Spyglass Hill Road.
Many bicyclists in Southern California have criticized drivers for acting aggressively toward them and cities for failing to protect them. After the Benefiel crash, Newport Beach created a bicycle safety task force to come up with recommendations to make the city more bike-friendly.
In May, the task force announced its suggestions, among them adding sharrows to popular bicycle routes in Newport Coast and Corona del Mar.
The sharrows are painted 11 feet from the curb and spaced 250 feet apart on both sides of the street. If bike riders stay within the sharrows, they should be safe from car doors being opened along the curb, city officials said. State guidelines state that sharrows can only be on streets with on-street, parallel parking and a speed limit of 35 mph or less.
The goal is to see how the sharrows affect drivers and bike riders' behavior.