Well, that peaceful pause for the planet was glorious while it lasted. But now that the contagion doubters, “freedom fighters,” the White House, and conspiracy theorists on both sides of the aisle have questioned the value of social distancing, it’s back to punishing traffic as usual in Laguna. And who better to doubt the experts than all those graduates of the University of YouTube. Yes I understand our need to work, congregate, and most importantly frolic on the beach. And I really don’t know what is the right balancing act to keep the spread down and at the same time rescue our economy.
What I do know is we need to re-think everything. And in the case of Laguna, everything is our progressively worsening traffic. I’ve written recently about the revolution in electric bike technology, and how they could be a game changer in our daily commutes, as well as visitor mobility. The usual doubters have countered that Laguna is not set up for biking. Well, neither were New York, Paris and Portland, until they were.
Laguna needs just one major improvement to make it safe and satisfying to traverse by bike – a dedicated Class 1 (protected with a barrier) bike lane on Glenneyre, from Calliope to Cleo. Then all of the neighborhood feeder streets would converge, and bikers would have safe passage through town to North Laguna via the existing bike lane on Monterey, and sharrows on Hillcrest and Cliff Dr.
Removing one lane of parking from Calliope to Cleo (where the road narrows) would not impact our four vehicular lanes, and from Cleo it’s an easy jog to the adjacent alleyway known as Goff St. to continue downtown. Savvy cyclists are already using it to bypass PCH and Glenneyre. The 50 or so parking spaces lost between the eight blocks of Calliope and Cleo would only serve to encourage more biking.
Adding this bike lane (and perhaps a few needed roundabouts on Glenneyre) would be the key infrastructure piece that would encourage more riders, and more riders means more driver awareness to share the road. And that’s how other cities evolved into bike-friendly places.
It’s not a zero sum game. Cyclists and motorists can coexist, And even if cycling is not for many in our aging population, if just 20% switched it would have a remarkable impact to our quality of life. Especially for those who bike.
Billy Fried, Laguna Beach
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