Until July 30, residents of Newport Beach have the chance to have their voice heard on an issue that is exploding in popularity in our city: bicycling.
It is important that those who bike, whether as their main form of transportation around the city or for enjoyment and exercise, take time to add their thoughts to how Newport will handle the exponential growth of biking in the years to come via the Newport Beach Bicycle Master Plan (NBBMP).
To leave comments, you can e-mail [email protected] The document itself can be found on the city’s web site.
The purpose of the plan is to provide a vison and implementation strategies 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 located in “bikeable” neighborhoods.
The Circulatory Element of the Newport Beach General Plan passed by voters in 2006 recognizes that the needs of bicyclists vary between residents using their bicycle for their primary means of transportation to those who bike simply for recreation.
One of the challenges of the NBBMP is to provide for both direct routes to various destinations throughout the city and likely require close integration with vehicular traffic, and scenic bike trails and paths for the weekend bicycle rider. Also, 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 of us experience while driving our cars when bicyclists do not adhere to the rules of the road.
The NBBMP identifies “The Five E’s “of bicycle planning, or ways to deal with many of the inherent conflicts with vehicles and bicycles sharing the same space. The Five E’s 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 NBBMP includes a “Bicycle Incident Analysis” from 2008-2013. Not surprisingly, it concludes that safety is a major concern for both current and potential bicyclists. That’s important because the NBBMP suggests that there are benefits to be had by all residents for increasing the use for bicycles for mobility, and therefore we must include elements in the plan than minimize the fear of those who are now reluctant to try biking.
I believe that NBBMP addresses this.
The NBBMP makes recommendations aligned with the Five E’s. 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 wayfinding 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 collecting data for continued improvement of the plan.
This all sounds good right? But what does it cost? The NBBMP does include a cost analysis, but it also identifies a number of potential funding sources outside of the city’s general fund. These include Cal Trans, Orange County M2 Local Return, OCTA Bicycle Corridor Improvement Program, SCAG Sustainability Program, Land and Water Conservation Fund among others. There are also numerous grants available for cities looking to improve bicycling facilities.
The NBBMP as it stands now is a solid guide for our city. As master plan, it can be made better with wide public comment.
Whether you are a bicycle “road warrior” or a beach cruiser, you will be impacted by this plan, and so I encourage everyone to take the time to read it and add your comments.
Newport Beach Planning Commissioner