Hansen: City lacks traffic backbone

August 08, 2013|By David Hansen
  • Two bicyclists wind their way by a trolley in gridlocked traffic Sunday on Coast Highway in downtown Laguna Beach.
Two bicyclists wind their way by a trolley in gridlocked… (David Hansen, Coastline…)

Trolleys, buses, cars, golf carts, pedestrians, bicyclists and a throng of clueless tourists compete for limited pavement in Laguna Beach. Who wins? Nobody.

It's a mess.

I don't ride my bicycle on Coast Highway. Heck, I don't even park on Coast Highway. I tell my friends not to park there unless they want to lose a mirror — or worse.

There are stretches clearly too tight for three cars, let alone three and a bicyclist.

From Bluebird Canyon to the south to Crescent Bay to the north, Coast Highway is not safe for anyone.

The only reason that that stretch of road does not lead the nation in fatalities is because half the time it is gridlocked. The other half of the time it is the middle of the night when the police have set up DUI checkpoints.

In some ways, winter is worse because people don't pay enough attention. More pedestrians are hit during December on average than any other month in Laguna Beach, according to police statistics. The reason: distracted drivers.


But let's ignore the accidents for a minute.

Who feels they own the road? Drivers. It's just the way it is — Darwinian perhaps.

I'm not endorsing this necessarily; I'm just describing it. If you are a typical driver, think about how you feel when a bicyclist "hogs" the road, acting holy than thou, unnecessarily infringing on most of the lane.

You may honk, yell, shake your fist or curse. The bicyclist flips you off; you flip back. It's a highway flip fest.

It makes me think of what happened when cars were first invented. Imagine the reverse road rage that must have taken place between cars and the majority: horse and buggy.

Buggies filled the road, then this timid car driver inched his way among the horses, trying to eke out a little space.

I'm sure the first drive-by shooting was a cranky old cuss who didn't much like the newfangled automobile scaring his horse, so at the first sign of trouble he pulled out his shotgun and fired away, feeling justified.

Over time, of course, the horse and buggy was forced to yield, replaced by golf carts.

In a perfect suburban world, like Irvine, there would be room for everyone: a golf cart lane, bike lane, baby stroller lane. But thankfully here, we don't have perfection; instead, we have insane parking and traffic.

Honestly, the problem in Laguna Beach is no one wants to upset anyone and do something worthwhile.

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