EDITED to clarify the number in the audience.
City Council candidate Tony Petros and Police Chief Jay Johnson discussed bicycle safety in Newport Beach at a Speak Up Newport event held Wednesday night, covering improvement efforts and concerns in front of a group of about 50 people.
Johnson described the police department’s efforts to collect data on cycling accidents, which had not been available previously, and how the department can use the information to learn more about where and when most crashes occur. That information can be used for enforcement efforts, he said, as well as for roadway improvements.
Petros, a member of the Citizens Bicycle Safety Committee, presented an overview of improvements the committee had developed, including better lane markings on East Coast Highway near MacArthur Boulevard and Newport Center Drive, where motorists making right turns are at risk of hitting cyclists going straight.
“I would like to see this done in all of our free-right turn situations,” Petros said. He also addressed tensions between motorists and cyclists and said both groups needed to show respect.
“The level of acrimony has reached fever pitch,” he said.
Johnson discussed state laws that allow cyclists to use an entire lane of traffic under certain conditions, as well as sharrows that will be added in Corona del Mar later this month. Sharrows are lane markings that let motorists and cyclists know that cyclists must share the road.
Bill Shaw of Balboa Island said he was a regular bicyclist but saw no way to increase cyclist safety on East Coast Highway through Corona del Mar.
“I don’t see any way to fix it,” he said. “There’s not room. It’s a mess.”
City Manager Dave Kiff, Mayor Pro Tem Keith Curry and Bicycle Safety Committee member Frank Peters attended the event, which was held at the Newport Beach Yacht Club.
Speak Up Newport is a “non-profit, non-partisan citizens group organized to promote the common good and general welfare of the Newport Beach community,” according to the group’s website. The group’s next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 14 and will discuss the city’s Banning Ranch project.