A Case for Safer Streets



Based on regular letters to the paper, many feel that our city streets are dominated by cars, and by drivers that feel they should be able to drive as fast as they like regardless of the impact to others. Yet virtually nothing is being done to address these dangerous traffic conditions in Laguna.

How many more reasons do we need before we start working towards Complete Streets that require safer driving and allow more people to ride bikes and walk more easily? Most people can’t just dump their cars and start riding a bike everywhere. Ok, I get that. But no one will be encouraged to drive more safely or utilize alternatives to driving unless real improvements are made to make those alternatives more accessible and safer.

Do we continue to relegate pedestrians, cyclists, and skateboarders to “at your own risk” status, or do we improve our community and the safety of residents and visitors? There are all sorts of things we could be doing: paint sharrows (symbols painted on the road that calm traffic and reinforce the existing law allowing cyclists to share a traffic lane) on Cypress, Cliff, Glenneyre and other streets; support a “20’s Plenty For Us” campaign for 20-mile-per-hour speed limits throughout all our neighborhood streets; put up signs on Coast Highway encouraging cyclists to try the alternative route that will guide them through the safer, slower streets and business district of downtown; create better access for skateboarders; improve crosswalks with more safety lighting; and fund some local artists to design and build unique bike racks that reflect the artistic character of Laguna, and put some at beach entrances, City Hall, and downtown.

Who is really hurt by these improvements? The drivers that want to continue speeding through town, texting and talking on cell phones, rolling stop signs, and racing yellow lights so they can shave 30 seconds off their trip? Why do we continue to favor those rights?

On Feb. 21, a man was killed while riding his bike on San Joaquin Hills Road when a driver, who left work in Laguna and was cited afterwards for DUI and texting while driving, drifted into the bike lane and ran him over. I’m not suggesting that a bike rack at City Hall would have prevented that tragedy. I am suggesting that awareness matters, and that when drivers remember that there are far more vulnerable users on the roads that require them to pay attention and drive more carefully, the safer everyone will be.

I know that many in our community share this goal. Let your voice be heard at the next city council or Complete Streets Task Force meeting, or with a PTC Action Request Form, or a letter to the paper, or whatever way you like. Just let it be heard.

Visit www.lagunastreets.blogspot.com, a new blog launched by a few concerned Laguna residents that is focused on sustainable mobility.

Justin Gresh, Laguna Beach




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