The Kibitzer

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Electric Bikes Rule(s)

By Billy Fried

“Low rider knows every street, yeah

Low rider is the one to meet, yeah

Low rider don’t use no gas now

Low rider don’t drive too fast

Take a little trip, take a little trip

Take a little trip and see

Take a little trip, take a little trip

Take a little trip with me.”

“Low Rider” – War

I was pleased to recently experience the Village Entrance, and see people using the meandering pedestrian pathway. And how about that big old empty bike rack? Well, it’s a start. But wouldn’t it be cooler if we also had an adjacent rental kiosk where visitors could grab an electric bike and circulate through town, free of their cars? Or we could ride ours downtown and never struggle with parking?

Build a single bike rack and they will not come. Build a ride-able infrastructure, with racks and kiosks all over town, and it would be transformative. The old blather that we’re too steep and our roads too narrow is an anachronism with the radical improvement of electric bikes. Now you can get anywhere and keep pace with traffic. The secret is to never ride Coast Highway, and instead follow the posted “Bike Route” signs from Crescent Bay to Nye’s Place, all via our lovely back roads.

Want to fall in love with Laguna all over again? Grab or rent a bike (or take a tour with us), and head up Mystic Way for a downtown view of low-rise buildings and greenery unlike any other coastal town and you’ll understand why so many are alarmed by over-development. Then head south to Bluebird Canyon Road, deep into the ravine that once housed Olympic athletes and is now home to the stunning, regenerative urban farm and education resource known as Bluebird Canyon Farms.

Then swing around and go north on Temple Terrace past our beautiful historic neighborhoods, and glide down Lombardy Lane to experience the cutest gingerbread living in town. Careful crossing Thalia, but then plunge down Wilson past Nita Carman Park and savor the exquisitely dense greenery just off our main drag. Arrive at the high school, take in the athletics, and, depending on surf, wonder how many kids are “out sick.”

Zip down El Camino Del Mar to experience our one and only roundabout. Maybe loop it twice or three times and ponder how useful they would be in other places before heading into town and past the littlest church in the west, St. Francis by the Sea.

Take Mermaid, pop a taco in your mouth at La Sirena, and then head to the Arts District and park with ease. Maybe one day we’ll be able to ride all the way out the canyon to Barbara Lake on a dedicated path. And maybe visitors can park out there and ride a bike into town.

But for now, circle back, cross Broadway, head up Lower Cliff Drive, and adventure into the awesomeness that is North Laguna. Jump on Monterey and ride our only dedicated bike lane. It runs less than a mile but hey, it beats a sharp stick in the eye. Say hello to Riddle Field, the oldest baseball diamond in the OC, and then transition onto Hillcrest. Stop to savor historic Pine Castle, and notice the juxtaposition between the austere, Normandy Revival Castle, and the modern, fluid lines of Planning Commissioner Jorg Dubin’s stunning, sexy gate (oh yeah, he occasionally makes art.)

Keep going until you reach Dartmoor, where your electric torque will power you up to the trailhead that only fit bikers could reach before. Though electric bikes aren’t allowed on trails, the first part is a paved fire road, so I’m giving you an exemption. Round that first bend and take in the amazing view to the south. Look across the hill at the exotic mid-century Hortense Miller house and gardens. Then imagine her Shangri-La life back in the day, cavorting and creating art all over her expansive garden. Probably naked, too.

Now cross Coast Highway (always at the crosswalk), head over to Crescent Bay Park, and tell me if there’s a more exotic view anywhere on planet earth. Heavenly Crescent Bay in the foreground, our undulating coast behind, and just in front Seal Rock, with frolicking sea lions and cormorants. A view among several that no doubt inspired many to change their lives and move here!

Now roll down Cliff Drive and experience North Laguna coastal living. If it sounds like a coffee-table book, it should be. Crescent Bay, Shaw’s, and Fisherman’s Cove, and finally mighty Heisler Park. Yum.

Stop to see the time capsule, Jorg Dubin’s 9/11 memorial (did I mention he makes art?), the whale, the flowers, the trees, the sculptures, the amphitheater, the yoga, the sunset serenades, the views, the lawn bowling, the smells, the picnics, and the multi-cultural joy of living in a free country. Pause for a moment of gratitude that you live here! Then hop on your bike and head back home for a sundowner.

This isn’t some utopian dream for the future. This is right now and every day. Laguna would be healthier, happier, friendlier and cleaner if we all circulated on bikes. See you around. And don’t forget to ring your bell and wave.


Billy Fried hosts “Laguna Talks” on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. on KX93.5 and can be reached at [email protected].




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