While discussing the citywide bicycle master plan, the Manhattan Beach City Council tabled a plan to install sharrows on Pacific Avenue due to resident safety concerns.
Instead, the council approved the installation of bike sharrows (shared-lane street markings) on Manhattan and Rosecrans avenues, much-wider streets, to move forward with the South Bay Bicycle Master Plan, which was adopted in 2011.
The Master Plan, the region's first multi-jurisdiction bike plan to provide connectivity throughout the South Bay, will provide 31 miles of bikeways throughout the city.
Last year, the council designated Pacific and Redondo avenues “bicycle friendly streets” and installed bike route signs.
The Parking and Public Improvements Commission reviewed a staff proposal, endorsed by the Blue Zones Project, to install sharrows on Pacific Avenue from Fifth Street to Rosecrans Avenue last year and recommended the installation to City Council.
But at the Nov. 5 City Council meeting, Pacific Avenue residents warned Council that adding bike lanes to Pacific would add fuel to the fire.
“I honestly can't imagine seeing a child biking to school in the middle of Pacific Avenue in the sharrow lanes at 8 in the morning with all the traffic that's coming down that street, all the parked cars. Most vehicles are speeding down the street,” said Lisa Deseran, who has lived on Pacific Avenue for 19 years.
One Pacific Avenue resident said she doesn't allow her kids to walk on the street without their parents, a rule that stands until they turn 18.
“The 13-year-old kids are embarrassed that they have to call me, because I don't allow them to cross Manhattan Beach Boulevard without me,” she said. “It's just not safe.”
Mike Don, director of the South Bay Bicycle Coalition, said studies show that when bikes are added to a street, the number of accidents goes down.
“Sharrows don't change the law. They put bikers in the right direction,” he said. “The great thing about sharrows is they encourage good behavior and it calms traffic.”
But another coalition member said Pacific Avenue is not the ideal location to encourage biking.
“We're gonna put sharrows on a street that starts and ends as a dead-end. It has hilly topography, which makes it harder to control bikes. It has five-way stop signs … two churches, three schools,” he said. “As someone who commutes on Pacific, trying to navigate around the time school goes in and gets out, the congestion of cars, pedestrians and now telling bikers they can occupy the middle of the road. Putting everyone in the same path seems like disaster waiting to happen.”
Mayor Pro Tem Amy Howorth told residents she has observed all of those issues on Pacific.
“When we address the mobility plan, there better be things that address some of the issues there now,” she said.
Howorth said the city needs to focus on bicycle education, along with enforcement.
All of the Council members agreed that the city must move forward with a bicycle plan, to encourage residents to get out and bike and reduce the carbon footprint.
After tabling the discussion of sharrows on Pacific, Council members agreed to start with sharrows on Manhattan Avenue between First and 15th streets and Rosecrans Avenue between Highland Avenue and Sepulveda Boulevard. Staff will notify residents impacted on those streets in the next couple of months.
“It's a win for our community to get us understanding that riding bicycles should become a way of transportation, a way of life for our community,” said Councilman Tony D'Errico.