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Community Commentary: Changing to 'livable speed' could save lives

July 14, 2011|By Les Miklosy

These injury accidents occurred on or about the Fourth of July weekend:

On July 2, a bicyclist fell while riding the unimproved Moulton Meadows connector trail at Top of the World and required an air rescue.

Unrelated to the bicyclist, an Edison truck driver mistook this same trail as a shortcut to Arch Beach Heights and plowed his vehicle into a ravine. This connector is the same trail the city has been considering for capital improvement for more than two years.

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On July 4, a 17-year-old pedestrian was clipped by a suspected drunk driver on Coast Highway.

On July 6, a 23-year-old pedestrian was seriously injured by an allegedly drunken driver on Coast Highway.

The Laguna Beach Downtown Specific Plan is 138 pages long and the word "pedestrian" appears 146 times. It is often used with the words "traffic," "access" and "crossing," yet the provisions for pedestrians are misleading and, when it comes to cyclists, altogether absent.

Exhibit A in this document shows the plan is limited to streets north of Sleepy Hollow Lane and not Aliso or South Laguna where some of these accidents occurred.

Coast Highway is under the California Department of Transportation's jurisdiction, and moving traffic fast is their business. Until Laguna Beach adopts our portion of Coast Highway and reduces the speed limits, pedestrians will be at the mercy of Caltrans and the operational speeds they choose to move traffic on their freeway.

Drunk drivers will always be with us. Some may be removed by local law enforcement and California Highway Patrol, but enforcement is an expensive proposition paid by the city and state. Reducing the "operational speed" to a "livable speed" would give even drunk drivers more reaction time for bike and pedestrian cross-traffic.

LES MIKLOSY is the chairman of the Complete Streets Task Force.

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