Got Alerts? Got Bike Safety?

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Got Alerts?

Did you know that the City of Newport Beach has a comprehensive Emergency Management Program including several “alert” systems for residents and visitors in the event of an emergency?

AlertOC, Orange County’s public mass notification system, works in partnership with the City to supply critical information throughout the County.

When an emergency occurs, public safety officials respond by delivering a recorded message to potentially affected individuals. Every landline telephone in the City is already enrolled in AlertOC but participants can also voluntarily register cell phones, email addresses and hearing impaired receiving devices.

Multiple contact options increase the likelihood an individual will receive critical alerts.

These mass notification systems really work. For example, when Southern California wildfires strike, AlertOC successfully protects property and lives by quickly communicating updates and potential evacuation instructions at all hours.

Visit AlertOC.com to register or call (949) 644-3112 if you have questions or need assistance.

Nixle, another notification system operating in Newport Beach, provides real-time local community public safety information. Registrants receive citywide and geographically targeted messages like crime alerts, traffic advisories and community updates by text message or email directly from the Newport Beach Police Department.

Multiple locations – home, school and work – can be registered.

These messages can be educative or ask for public assistance on a police matter. For example, recent Nixle notices involved information about a firearms arrest, identification of a bank robbery suspect and help needed regarding locating a missing person.

Go to nixle.com and learn more about this important free service provided by the City.

Newport Beach also offers Select Alert, which communicates to subscribers a broad range of non-emergency information throughout the City. This free service allows users to set up an email account to receive City relevant news and information. The account is self-managed, and subscribers have complete control to select from a broad range of categories of information of interest.

Selections are varied and include Water Conservation, City Council Agendas, City Facility Closures and Recreation Classes and Camps to name only a few.

To subscribe to Select Alert, go to newportbeachca.gov and select the “Subscribe to News” tab in the “Online Services” section.

Take some time, go online, and check out these great services offered in the City and Get Alert!

Bike Safety Laws

Who knew the Orange County Transportation Authority had a sense of humor?

That was demonstrated recently in their You Tube video, “Bike Smart, Bike Safe – 3 Feet for Safety Act.”

The farcical video, which focuses on the recently enacted California law requiring motorists to maintain a three-foot buffer when passing cyclists, has garnered more than 80,000 views in just a few weeks since it was created.

Vignettes include people engaging in behavior too close for comfort – standing too close in an elevator, sitting too close in an empty theater and cozying up too close in a public Jacuzzi. The message: it is just as inappropriate to get too close on the road!

Humor aside, Newport Beach takes bike safety very seriously. Our city streets carry thousands of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians daily. Between 90 and 100 bicycle accidents occur in Newport Beach annually, and at least one person has died as the result of a bike accident each year since 2005.

The City Council established the Bicycle Safety Improvement Fund in October of 2012 from a combination of community contributions totaling more than $75,000 and 3:1 matching funds from the City, bringing the Fund total to over $300,000.

The fund is dedicated to projects aimed at improving bicycle safety within the city, including capital improvements and education and outreach, and will be implemented through the City’s Bicycle Master Plan adopted in October of 2014. Under the Plan, City Staff is moving forward with over 130 facility recommendations and over 30 program recommendations.

So what’s changed with the new California law? Drivers must now provide bicyclists three feet of distance as they pass on the road. Prior to that, the standard was a “safe distance,” which proved hard for motorists and bicyclists to quantify. Now, if a biker can reach out an arm and touch a vehicle, it’s closer than three feet. The law applies regardless of whether there’s a bike lane in the road.

A law enforcement officer must witness a violation – bystanders’ accounts or video recordings are not evidence. Violators face at least a $35 fine, and a $220 fine if a collision occurs. Those amounts skyrocket when court fees are added.

One exception to the new law: if there’s not enough room for a driver to provide three feet, then the driver must slow down before safely passing. Of course bikers are required to obey traffic signs and signals like every other vehicle.

For more info on bicycle safety, the City publishes Safety Guidelines for Bicyclists & Motorists (newportbeachca.gov,).

The California DMV publishes its own guide, “Safety Tips for Bicyclists & Motorists” (dmv.ca.gov), and the California Bike Coalition has a list of rules that apply across the state (calbike.org.).

So get up to speed and share the road safely.

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