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L.A. County Bicycle Coalition Calls For Bikeway Along PCH

The nonprofit has been working with local agencies to improve safety for bicyclists along Pacific Coast Highway.

Following the death of a bicyclist in Malibu over the weekend, the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition called for safety improvements, including a dedicated bikeway, along Pacific Coast Highway.

The nonprofit issued the statement Monday, two days after the death of a 36-year-old Cypress Park woman, whose name was being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin. 

"Pacific Coast Highway is a notoriously dangerous street for all travelers, and particularly challenging for people on bicycles. Outdated road design, inconsistent shoulders, and high motor vehicle speeds are a perilous combination for people walking or riding along the highway," the statement read.

"PCH is Malibu’s main street, yet it was built to rural highway standards that provide first and foremost for the fast movement of vehicles over local access to residences, businesses, and beaches. Bicyclists face increased risks when navigating such a complex traffic environment."

LACBC has been working with the City of Malibu, Caltrans and other agencies since the 2005 death of Scott Bleifer and Stanislav Ionov on PCH.

"Education, enforcement, and engineering strategies must be used in concert to reduce collision rates," according to LACBC.

The nonprofit praised the City of Malibu's recent efforts, especially its Pacific Coast Highway Safety Study through a $375,000 grant from Caltrans. The City is also currently working toward the design of a bike lane project running two miles from Busch Drive to Trancas Canyon Road.

"The California coast is a shared treasure, with access guaranteed by the California Coastal Act and our State’s Constitution. LACBC calls on all jurisdictions to cooperate in providing a safe, continuous bikeway along the Pacific Coast Highway so that all people can enjoy its scenic beauty. We must work together to improve safety in the short term while moving toward a more balanced PCH that better serves residents and visitors in the future."

Saltwater October 16, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I don't see the need for a costly dedicated bike lane on PCH in Malibu. What I see a need for is for cyclists to realize that not all highways are conducive to huge numbers of riders traveling in packs on many of the highways. It's sad and unfortunate that a cyclist lost her life but not even a dedicated bike lane will guarantee everyone's safety. Was Emily Shane walking in the road when she was killed? A bike lane is not going to prevent cyclists from riding two, three or more abreast and that's a problem. I've lived in this area for over 25 years and despite the fact that I'd like to ride my bike on certain parts of the highway I know better.
steve dunn October 16, 2012 at 02:36 PM
You people who want to ride bikes on the most dangerous highway in the nation, are nuts!!! These cars will never slow down. I don't care what Hans says, PCH is pretty much a freeway these days. No such thing as "summer is over and we get our town back"..... It's people and traffic 24/7 now and they speed, FAST......
John October 16, 2012 at 04:40 PM
I hope the bike lane gets built. They have my vote.
BJToepper October 16, 2012 at 05:37 PM
A dedicated bikeway, separated from cars by a physical barrier, would provide the safety cyclists need. I believe the state has designated much of the PCH as a bike route, and should work towards improving safety for all its users. It would seem to me that the largest single problem on PCH is unsafe driving -- too fast, too aggressive, and whatnot. Cyclists riding two abreast are a trivial "problem" compared to that.
Brent Butterworth October 16, 2012 at 05:40 PM
God created the Pacific Coast for all of us. Why should priority go to those who can't get down the block without the help of a 3,000-pound metal box?
Brent Butterworth October 16, 2012 at 05:45 PM
The fact that a few cyclists ride two abreast (something I have very rarely seen on PCH) does not mean that the rest of us shouldn't have safe access to PCH. At many intersections, drivers commonly do "rolling stops" at stop signs or when making right-hand turns on red. Does this mean all drivers should not be able to use the roads?
Seamus Garrity October 16, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Maybe if we eliminate parking on one side of the highway and add a barrier to really give protection to bicyclists. As it stands now the hwy will continue to get gorier and there's just not very much room.
Dan Martin October 16, 2012 at 06:31 PM
I commuted from Malibu to Venice on PCH for 6 years, almost always alone, and stayed as far to the right shoulder as possible. Never running stop signs, or red lights. I was subjected to countless drivers/buses harassing me, throwing hot coffee & lit cigarettes at me. I found that a majority of drivers didn't think I "belonged" on PCH with a bike. Numerous times I was passed by cars literally brushing my shoulder. Unfortunately, it was my only option to get to work. Yes, there needs to be a seperate lane with a divider for cyclists to ensure their safety, but I seriously doubt the cost of the project would ever be approved. There aren't enough cyclist to justify the expense unfortunately. The "Share The Road" signs were a huge waste of funds in my opinion.
Countrygirl October 16, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Saltwater... I couldn't agree with you more. With people on cell phones, etc., all it takes is one split second for an accident. These roads were built for automobiles, not bicycles. It's very nerve-wracking when a driver has to move further into the far lane because of a biker; which in turn can cause an accident in itself. Let's also add to the mix that we now how Wine Tasting on PCH; all a recipe for disaster!
Countrygirl October 16, 2012 at 07:02 PM
I agree with Steve, too!
Malibu Magoo October 16, 2012 at 07:11 PM
I'm all for safety improvements on PCH for cyclists, pedestrians, equestrians... In the meantime, the road is a hazard, and anyone riding there is undeniably putting their lives into the hands of every knucklehead with a license (and some without). Cycling becomes an extreme sport on PCH with very little room for error. And the error is usually NOT on the part of the cyclist... I'll admit, as a driver on some very busy traffic days, I sometimes feel angry and want to lecture cyclists -- not because they're doing anything that isn't within their rights, but because they're playing a deadly game of chicken. It's fine to claim shared right of way, but right of way doesn't matter after you're mowed down. I feel the same way about people who take their sweet time crossing -- legally, with a green walk signal -- the street. Yes, you have the right of way, but drivers make a lot of mistakes, and right and wrong don't matter once you've been run over.... Love and prayers to the friends and family of the most recent PCH fatality. She sounds like an extraordinary lady, and it's a real tragedy this accident occurred.
Ann Tomkins October 16, 2012 at 08:20 PM
I drove past the site of the most recent casualty today and was shocked to see all the cars parked on the side with the cyclists forced into the street. I also passed several weaving cars with drivers on cell phones very close to where this woman died. I know that the City is not responsible for the design of PCH, however, it is responsible for the construction vehicles on the street because the City must have permitted the construction. It could easily be a condition in the permit that construction vehicles not park on PCH, or limiting the number of vehicles or their placement. Given that 3 lives have now been lost due to construction on that stretch of road, I hope the City learns from that and does things differently going forward.
Niall Huffman October 16, 2012 at 09:12 PM
Perhaps if PCH were made safer for bikes, we'd see more people bicycling. Using the relatively low rate of bicycle use in the existing, unsafe conditions to argue against safety improvements is rather circular logic, no?
Kelli October 16, 2012 at 09:20 PM
As a disclaimer, ANY accident involving motorists, cyclists, pedestrians or animals is horrible, any way you look at it. However, that being said, as a longtime Malibu resident, I see on a daily basis, reckless behaviour by cyclists. I see packs of cyclists riding 3, 4 and more abreast, with 1, 2 or more cyclists riding in the traffic lane. This post does not intend to cite the law, that's another story. This is strictly about SAFETY and COMMON SENSE. BUT what many cyclists seem to not want to admit (out of an overabundance of hubris in some cases) is that cars go faster than bicycles, cars weigh more than bicycles, and so on. Hey, if I see a 300 lb guy running towards me, I'm going to give way -- I don't care what the law is, what courtesy dictates, whatever -- it's COMMON SENSE, right? So --- then why do cyclists on PCH insist on putting themselves on the same footing as cars going 45 mph (and more)? I happen to have a lot of respect for life - mine, and others. So, as a motorist, I'm going to do everything I can to 'share the road,' but as a cyclist, I'm going to stay well to the side, I'm not going to ride in traffic lanes and I'm sure going to give way to any motorist. Why can't cyclists be a little less aggressive when it comes to riding on PCH? I can already hear the backlash from the cyclists out there who insist on keeping PCH a level playing field with motorists and cyclists, but the reality of the situation is that it's not.
Eric B October 16, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Ann, Please come to the next Public Safety Commission hearing and make this exact point. There is no reason for the City to not require on-site parking for construction projects on large lots. Thank you for your comments!
Eric B October 16, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Hi Kelli, Please refer to this post to understand why it is sometimes safer for bicyclists to ride in the lane. http://malibu.patch.com/articles/bicycles-and-you-on-pchtake-a-deep-breath I know much of this is counter-intuitive, but there are several reasons why a bicyclist (or group of bicyclists) would ride that way.
Niall Huffman October 16, 2012 at 09:41 PM
If I understand correctly, what Saltwater's comment proposes is that instead of making the one access route through Malibu safer for everyone to use, we should just give up and make it off-limits to anyone not in a car. This is a terrible idea. As the LACBC's statement says, the California coast is a shared resource that should be open to everyone for a variety of purposes, and access is guaranteed by law. Additionally, people should be aware of the not-insignificant business that cycling brings to various restaurants and markets along PCH, both from athletic cyclists out for day-long rides and bicycle tourists passing through on their way up and down the coast. People on bikes stop more often and usually eat a lot more -- I know this was the case when I was touring the Pacific Coast by bike and stopped at several establishments in Malibu along the way. Let's maintain and enhance these local economic benefits by working to make PCH a bit less of a speedway and more of a local boulevard that's safe and welcoming for everybody.
hellwood October 18, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Brent ...God? interesting...so God gave you perfectly good legs for walking, but you cant can't get down the block without the help of a bicycle? ...and he gave you a computer to complain about cars with too, obviously. that is deep
hellwood October 18, 2012 at 04:51 PM
yeah, because forcing all of the residents in eastern malibu to cross the highway back and forth all day with their groceries and families is safe? ...worst idea yet
Gary Kavanagh October 18, 2012 at 07:55 PM
The public highway is not anyone's driveway, it is not a garage, it is also not the private drag strip of those passing through. It belongs to those whole live there, those that visit, and those that pass through equally, that is how public roads and streets work and they should be designed to accommodate all users in the safest manner possible.
hellwood October 18, 2012 at 11:33 PM
gary, im really starting to think that your tight little biking leotard panties are cutting off the circulation to your brain. You cant expect the local residents and thousands of motorists to put their own lives in danger for your bicycle riding pipe dreams. The majority will always rule.
Gary Kavanagh October 19, 2012 at 12:08 AM
Improving safety for bicyclists is not a zero sum contest. The Netherlands started building bike paths and bike lanes as a matter of policy importance, both within and between cities. They have a safer traffic safety record for all users with bigger gains than the US over recent decades. Many of the streets redesigned for to include bike lanes here in Santa Monica saw declines in collisions of all kinds, as high as a 50% reduction in the case of Ocean Park Blvd. PCH is obviously a very different context than Santa Monica streets, but to suggest improving conditions for bicycle travelers is somehow automatically detracting safety from others, is not true. Although it's worth noting simply doing something but not well planned is not guaranteed to improve things either. When Caltrans says there is nothing they can do, what they really mean is they have targets set for design speed criteria locked in, auto-centric level of service ratings to meet for intersection delay, and vulnerable road users are a tertiary concern (a.k.a. human life = less value than speed, motoring convenience, and throughput capacity, which is measured in cars, not actual people). We should be demanding better safety for everyone, bicycling is one component of that, and it so happens efforts targeted to improve bicycling safety, when done well, are themselves often things that improve safety for others as well, which has been borne out in research from many different places and contexts.

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