About a month after two fatal cyclist accidents shook Newport Beach, community members gathered with local authorities to discuss bike safety, cyclist accident prevention, and education and awareness efforts.
According to local news sources, about 50 people gathered for the Speak Up Newport meeting at the Newport Beach Yacht Club, which featured speakers of City Council candidate Tony Petros and Newport Beach Police Chief Jay Johnson.
Petros emphasized the importance of driver education and biker awareness, stating that there are only so many road design changes that can save lives, whereas most cyclist accidents could be prevented if everyone on the roads adhered to and understood traffic laws.
Johnson spoke of Newport Beach Police Department’s new plans to prevent future traffic accidents through data collection and crash tracking. He also reviewed several places in the area that had been flagged for better signage and other road design improvements. Specifically, Johnson noted the Corona del Mar Freeway exit near Newport Coast Road.
In September, 29-year-old Sarah Leaf was pronounced dead at the scene of a Newport Beach bike accident at the corner of the East Coast Highway and Bayside Drive. The collision occurred when a truck turned right into the cyclist, who was also turning right at the intersection. Less than 24 hours later, 57-year-old Dr. Catherine Ritz was biking on Newport Coast Drive when she was struck from behind by a black truck which fled the scene of the accident. Ritz died of her traffic accident injuries at the hospital later that day, and police continue to search for the hit-and-run vehicle.