Until July 30, residents of Newport Beach have the chance to have their voices heard regarding an activity that is exploding in popularity in our city: bicycling.
It is important that those who bike take time to add their thoughts about how Newport will handle the exponential growth of biking in the years to come via the Newport Beach Bicycle Master Plan.
To leave comments, email firstname.lastname@example.org. The document itself can be found at the city's web site, Newportbeachca.gov.
The purpose of the plan is to provide a vision for how to improve conditions and safety for the growing number of cyclists throughout the city. The plan identifies a number of benefits to all Newport Beach residents. In addition to the more obvious benefits to the environment and health is an economic one. According to the document, home values increase when neighborhoods are bikeable.
The Circulatory Element of the Newport Beach General Plan, passed by voters in 2006, recognizes that the needs of bicyclists vary depending on whether their bikes are their primary means of transportation or used simply for recreation. Creators of the bicycle master plan have the challenge of providing direct routes to various destinations throughout the city, as well as scenic bike trails and paths for the weekend bicycle rider, all integrating with vehicular traffic.
In addition, the proliferation of electric bikes presents a different kind of problem because now bicycle routes will have to take into account varying speeds.
As a resident, I have seen the popularity of bicycling in our city increase dramatically in the last decade. With that comes the frustration that many drivers experience when bicyclists do not adhere to the rules of the road.
The bicycle master plan identifies "The Five Es" of bicycle planning, or ways to deal with many of the inherent conflicts when vehicles and bicycles share the same space. The Five Es are engineering (bicycle parking and signage), encouragement (bicycle trail maps and special events), education (improve safety), enforcement (adherence to code) and evaluation (monitoring for improvement).
We all know about the recent tragic accidents involving bicyclists in our city. The bicycle master plan includes a bicycle incident analysis from 2008 to 2013. Not surprisingly, it concludes that safety is a major concern. That's important because the bicycle master plan suggests that there are benefits to be had by all residents by increasing the use of bicycles, and therefore we must include elements in the plan than minimize the fear of those who are now reluctant to try biking.
The bicycle master plan makes recommendations aligned with the Five Es. The proposed network, when completed, will include 145 miles of bicycle facilities, increasing connectivity to surrounding communities. These facilities will include bicycle hubs, end-trip bicycle parking and way-finding signage.
In addition, the plan outlines programs designed to educate the public on all issues related to two-wheel transportation, a means of enforcement of codes and the collecting of data for continued improvement of the plan.
OK, this all sounds good right? But what does it cost?
The bicycle master plan includes a cost analysis and identifies a number of potential funding sources outside of the city's general fund. These include Caltrans, the Orange County Transportation Authority's Bicycle Corridor Improvement Program and many others. Numerous grants are also available to cities looking to improve bicycling facilities.
The bicycle master plan, as it stands now, is a solid guide for our city, though it can be made better with wide public comment. Whether you are a bicycle road warrior or a beach cruiser, you will be affected by this plan.
I encourage everyone to take the time to read it and add comments.