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Mailbag: Laguna streets not living up to 'progressive' history

March 14, 2013

I moved to Laguna Beach when I was 25. That was in 1962. I have pedaled its streets ever since then, including the 37 years I worked at Laguna Beach High School when I lived in upper Bluebird Canyon.

Four years ago I volunteered to serve on the City Council-appointed Complete Streets Task Force. I was anxious to make a difference in how our town would encourage alternative means of transportation, given what I thought was always a forward-looking and environmentally-positive city philosophy, as well as a place that was becoming glutted by automobiles. I was wrong.

I am completely frustrated by the lack of positive action not taken by our City Council majority (Kelly Boyd, Toni Iseman and Elizabeth Pearson) regarding Complete Streets legislation during the last four years, which would be the practical implementation of Complete Streets that would encourage our residents to walk and cycle more for health, environmental, and budgetary reasons.

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Certain council members always refer to our town as too dangerous (along Coast Highway), or too hilly. There are answers to both, of course.

As I now live on Cress Street, when I go to Arch Beach Heights or Top of the World, I put my bike on the almost always available blue bus to ascend the hills and then cycle down. If I have errands in town or in cities nearby, I cycle, or walk, as my car rarely moves.

Secondly, why reference Coast Highway? It is the council's job to designate the safest bike route through town from north to south and it is not Coast Highway. After more than three years, the city finally painted sharrows on Monterrey Street in north Laguna. So why not finish the job? Get cyclists to Nyes Place via Glenneyre or Catalina streets. Then deal with Coast Highway before and after those town entrance and exit points. It's not difficult. Our neighbors to the north (Corona del Mar) and south (Dana Point) have accomplished this much, why not Laguna Beach? An out of touch council.

The excuse was always liability. Now it is reversed. By not providing a safe route through — and about — town, despite repeated requests, we are more at risk, rather than the opposite.

The most recent AARP bulletin stated that out of 17 industrialized counties, the U.S. ranks 16th in life expectancy. Why? One reason is "our dependence on cars gets special attention for helping create neighborhoods that discourage walking and contribute to obesity", according to the article.

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