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Police cracking down on bicycle, motorist violations

Five police departments are working together to education cyclists and drivers about the rules of the road.

February 15, 2011|By Cindy Frazier, cindy.frazier@latimes.com

Bicyclists and motorists in five cities will have to be careful to abide by traffic rules Saturday and Feb. 24 when police officers in various cities will be conducting a special enforcement detail targeting areas where bicycles and motorists are on the roads, according to Laguna Beach Police Lt. Jason Kravetz.

The bicycle safety enforcement campaign was spearheaded by Newport Beach police, and includes agencies in Irvine, Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa, according to a press statement from the Newport Beach Police Department.

"Extra officers will be on duty patrolling areas frequented by bicyclists and vehicles," according to a news release issued by Newport police. "Officers will be addressing traffic violations made by all vehicle operators, bicyclists and other vehicle drivers that lead to bicycle versus vehicle collisions, injuries and fatalities."

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Kravetz said that, in Laguna Beach, the enforcement will center on Coast Highway and Laguna Canyon Road.

Huntington Beach Police Lt. Russell Reinhart said three motorcycle officers would patrol the area around Pacific Coast Highway, possibly issuing citations but also educating bicyclists about safety laws.

"The idea is to get everyone thinking about it and talking about it," he said.

"The goal of the program is to educate the public about the safe and lawful use of bicycles, as well as the safe and lawful use of vehicles that share the roadways with bicycles," according to Newport's release. "Prevention is a key component of the program, which centers on the traffic laws that can prevent bicycle riders from becoming injured or killed due to illegal use or reckless behavior by bicyclists and vehicles. In addition, the police departments involved may be required to enforce obvious violations of the city's Municipal Code to maintain safe operations."

The release noted that more people are using bicycles for transportation and that makes it imperative that vehicles and bicycles "share the road" and that drivers and bicycle riders understand the rules of the road that pertain to their mode of transport.

According to the police agencies, the most common factors leading to bicycle and motorist collisions are the failure of bicyclists to:

•operate the bicycle on the roadway or shoulder of the highway in the same direction as the flow of vehicular traffic;

stop at stop signs or stop lights; and

yield the right of way to all traffic.

The most common factors involving collisions that are the driver's fault are:

failure to yield when turning left;

unsafe turning movement;

failure to stop at a red light; and

failure to yield to others lawfully in an intersection.

Huntington Beach City Editor Michael Miller contributed to this report.

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