Extra Newport police patrols focus on bicyclist and pedestrian safety

Newport Beach police officers are keeping a watchful eye this month on areas of the city frequented by bicyclists and pedestrians where crashes have occurred recently.

In an effort to reduce injuries and deaths, extra officers will be patrolling the areas looking for unsafe motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists as part of the department’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Operation.

The first day of the operation was Wednesday. Others are Saturday and May 11. Data from Wednesday’s effort were not immediately available.

The officers are focusing on specific offenses, including driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, speeding, making illegal turns, failing to stop for signs and signals, and any other dangerous activities, according to a news release.

Officers will issue citations to drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, and to pedestrians who fail to yield to drivers who have the right of way, the release states. Citations also will be issued to bicyclists who don’t follow the traffic laws that apply to motorists, and to motorists who don’t safely share the road with bicyclists.

Data indicate that pedestrian and cyclist fatalities appear to be on the rise statewide as more people ditch their cars for non-motorized forms of transportation.

The Newport Beach Police Department has investigated 14 fatal crashes involving pedestrians and bicyclists from 2013 through 2015.

In 2013, 701 pedestrians and 141 bicyclists were killed statewide, accounting for more than 28% of all traffic fatalities, according to a news release.