They say we break the record for bicycle and pedestrian deaths for a town our size. If you look in the concrete gutter in front of the “dirty bird,” (Sandpiper Lounge) you’ll see the contractor’s impression indicating Coast Highway was built in 1927.
Actually we are being held hostage by an antique highway that was built for far less traffic and parking spaces than it has today. Many years ago Caltrans installed a half million dollar signal system designed to keep cars moving on Coast Highway, and said that if they had their way, they would remove many parking spaces in town.
In towns such as Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, where police have a “tough” image, they let the traffic go fast, just as we do, because if we didn’t, we would have massive traffic jams.
There’s no easy answer. Giving more speeding tickets might help, but the cars will still come. Certainly our police could watch pedestrian crossing zones more carefully and pedestrians should realize that in studies, texting is the most dangerous distraction, next to listening to music and talking on the phone. Texters took 18% longer to cross than the undistracted and were 3.9 times more likely either to disobey the light, cross at an inappropriate location or cross without looking both ways. The new little speaking boxes at some crossings aren’t kidding when they say “cars may not stop.”
Bike lanes on an already, overloaded, antique highway? You be the judge.
When Coast Highway opened in the late 1920s, legend has it that Mr. Jahraus, of Laguna Lumberyard fame, proposed charging each car a quarter. Maybe that’s the answer.
Roger Carter, Laguna Beach