Eyes on the Street: Malibu’s First Bike Lane – on PCH along Zuma Beach

The city of Malibu recently completed its first-ever bike lane, officially called the Pacific Coast Highway Bike Route Improvement Project. The new 2-mile bike lane is part of a 7-mile bike route (marked by signs, but not paint on the ground) on eastbound Pacific Coast Highway from Busch Drive (near Zuma Beach) to the city’s western border, near Leo Carrillo State Beach.

Malibu's new Pacific Coast Highway bike lane. Image via Google Maps
Malibu’s new Pacific Coast Highway bike lane. Image via Google Maps

Though Malibu’s PCH has, like many scenic coastal streets, long been popular with bicyclists, the city’s attention to cyclist safety has been a long time coming. A 2013 Malibu City report called for 21 miles of bike lanes – for the entire length of PCH through the city. The current bike lane project included repaving, striping, and intersection and median modifications. Project funding came from Metro, Caltrans, and the city of Malibu.

The public is invited to a grand opening and ribbon-cutting next week. The festivities take place Wednesday, April 29, at 10 a.m. at PCH and Morning View Drive – at Zuma Beach.

  • Wow, better late than never. Although the new separated path along the 101 in Ventura is a sight better. ;)

  • John Hanson

    The only thing that would be better is if the bike lane was separated from 50+MPH traffic by the row of parked cars.

  • Dylan

    Since it only goes one direction, I don’t see the new lane attracting any new riders. However, it is a definite safety improvement for those already biking the PCH.

  • johnmcnary

    Dylan, there is no parking on nearly all of the other side of PCH, there is a wide shoulder so that is a de facto bike lane. We worked damn hard out here to get this bike lane built. 15 years ago, the answer from the then-Malibu city manager was “Malibu doesn’t do bikes.” Now the city has its first bike lane, and is about to do a major effort on the biking/parking conumdrum in eastern Malibu. You’re welcome.

  • Grumpy Dutchman

    It’s ironic that the cyclist says “it is so much safer” just after nearly colliding with a parked car pulling into the bike lane. Thanks for getting the stripe, but a door-death and gutter lane is not a “de facto bike lane.”

  • überfahr

    Exactly. What a terrible idea — plus that stretch of PCH is already the Wild West with many car accidents. Pity the family with kids thinking that this ‘bike lane’ is any safer — it’s a trap! Maybe if they banned parking on the street — and why not? Because we must – apparently – appease and prioritize motorists with all of their gear and stuff and dangerous, deadly gasses.

  • ubrayj02

    It IS a big turnaround for the City of Malibu.

  • ubrayj02

    Well, you should have tried to ride it before!

  • Grumpy Dutchman

    I did. Never again! I’ll go back when there’s a physical barrier to protect me from the drunk maniacs speeding at 80 mph in Malibu.

  • Don W

    Malibu said, “Here cyclists, get out of the way of cars and into the door zone.”

    It would be great if the parking was removed in the places where there isnt enough space for the bike lane to be 5ft from parked cars. First seconds of the vid are in the door zone.

  • johnmcnary1

    Don, the Coastal Commission would have a cow if one parking place were removed. It would be great of there were enough room for all that. There isn’t.

  • johnmcnary1

    No, because it is a beach access parking area that is one of the few free places to park along the ocean anywhere in L A County. There are balancing interests, many of them, wanting a piece of the pie. Only a effete elitist would say “ban parking at Zuma.”

  • Joe Linton

    Too bad about the free parking

  • überfahr

    How about charging at cost for parking? Does that warrant another lame name calling?

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    As a cyclist who is very familiar with Pacific Coast Highway…

    First, let us look at the CHP SWITRS Accident Data for PCH: http://iswitrs.chp.ca.gov/Reports/jsp/userLogin.jsp

    There is a seven month delay in reporting accident data. Therefore, 2013 is the latest year for
    complete data.

    There were 16 bicycle / motorists accidents on 27 miles of PCH from Santa Monica
    to the Ventura County Line (Leo Carrillo / Mulholland).

    Seven (6) were the fault of the cyclists:

    Wrong Way 2

    Running stop sign 1

    Bicycle running into
    parked car 1

    Bicycle tailgating car 1

    Bicycle riding faster than
    safe 1 (Possible
    in congested automobile traffic)

    Ten (10) were the fault of the Automobile Driver:

    DUI 1 (Fatal)

    Left Turn (Left Cross) 1

    Illegal Lane Change 2

    Car Pulling out of
    Driveway/Parking Space 3

    Car open door (“Dooring”) 3

    None of these accidents happened along Zuma Beach.

    When I cycle through that area, I usually ride about six feet away from the parked
    cars. This usually places me in the
    right tire track of the general travel lane.
    Knock wood, I never had an incident along this stretch. However, I know two cyclists hit by cars
    pulling out of parking spaces while riding on the shoulder.

    Per CVC 21208, “Whenever a bicycle lane has been established on a roadway
    pursuant to Section 21207, any person operating a bicycle upon the roadway at a
    speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at
    that time shall ride within the bicycle lane…”
    60% of accidents along PCH could be eliminated by cyclists riding six
    feet to the left of parked cars. That makes
    this bike lane a death trap for cyclists, by possibly increasing the amounts of
    Doorings and Cars pulling out of parking spaces.

    Ideally, removing the parking along this stretch is the safest thing for
    cyclists. But, I understand that the
    needs of all road users must be balanced; and free costal access should be
    maintained. With all the loading and
    unloading from parked vehicles, a “Protected Bike Lane” would be an obstacle course
    and very dangerous for cyclists.

    There was no quantitative reason for creating this bike lane. If the City of Malibu wants to encourage more
    cycling in this area, they should develop plans for a beach bike path. Unfortunately, the false sense of security
    this bike lane will create will increase motorist/cyclist accidents in the
    area.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    The city of Los Angeles installed 19 miles of bike lanes in fiscal year 2011, 50 miles in FY 2012, 101 miles in FY 2013 and 40 miles in FY 2014. There were 147 miles of bike lanes in Los Angeles in 2009, now there are over 391 miles of bike lanes.

    There was an increase in LAPD reported bicycle collisions in 2011 of 6.5%, in 2012 +7.2%, in 2013 +0.9% and in the first 7 months of 2014 bicycle collisions are down -6.5% and yet total reported traffic collisions are slightly up in 2014 compared to the 2013 results and the pedestrian collisions increased.

    The Census Bureau American Community Survey (ACS) results for bicycling as the main means of journey to work increased in the city of Los Angeles from 1% in 2011 and 2012 to 1.2% in 2013. A 20% increase. The LACMTA counted 42% more bicycle boarding’s at rail stations in 2013 (transit use by bicyclists does not count as bicycle commuting on ACS data). Yet the LAPD reported bicycle collisions for 2013 only went up 0.9% from the previous year and are down 6.5 for the first 7 months of 2014. It has become safer to ride a bicycle in the city of Los Angeles after the bike lanes were installed.

    There was a study of the effects of installing bicycle lanes in New York City. The result was that this did not lead to an increase in bicycle crashes despite the probable increase in the number of bicyclists.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3483943/

    Riding in bike lanes is not a false sense of security. Most bicyclists ride in the position where bike lanes would be whether or not there are bike lanes there.

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    Dennis – You live…

    PCH west (PCH runs east/west through Malibu) of Pepperdine University is not a corridor for commuting. However, it is a great stretch for training rides. I have ridden 20,000+ miles along PCH. I have trained, coached, and recreational ridden along PCH.

    The last thing that is needed along Zuma Beach is a five-foot wide mandatory use lane next to parked vehicles. Aided by the tailwind, cyclists along this stretch easily exceed 25 MpH. The only way a bike lane along here would be safe if the parking is removed. Watch the video. Notice at 0:37 the narrator says, “Heads up” to the other cyclist. Why, to warn him about the car pulling out of the parking space. Notice right after that there are cars with open doors and people.

    Do you honestly believe that funneling thousands of weekend athletes next to parked cars is safe? Bike lanes here are not going to encourage novice cyclists to commute to work. Money would have been better spent installing a bike path on the beach for recreational cyclists and their families.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Bike paths cost $2-3 million a mile to install in the city of Los Angeles. Bike lanes cost $50,000 a mile. For this 7-mile stretch in Malibu the total cost for bike lanes would be about $350,000 using city of LA costs. The installation of 7-miles of bike path would be at least $14 million and it would likely take several years to complete if Malibu had the money.

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    I ask you again, do you honestly believe that funneling thousands of weekend athletes next to parked cars is safe?

    That said, a beach bike path would only have to be 3 miles. From the North/West end of Zuma Beach to Point Dume. A nice family friendly path similar to Santa Monica/Venice beach.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    I’m quite convinced that riding in these bike lanes increases the safety for cycling compared to riding without them. My conclusion is drawn from data of bike collisions after the installation of bike lanes in NYC and the city of Los Angeles. Yours is just personal belief. Again, where are most cyclists going to ride on PCH with or without the bike lanes? That would likely be in the same position were the bike lanes are installed whether or not there are bike lanes there.

    However, riding along a road that has a 50 mph posted speed limit without any physical barrier to separate you from the much greater mass and speed of motor vehicles is inherently less safe than riding where motor vehicles are traveling at a much lower rate of speed. If an error is made by a motorist and they hit a cyclist, then the cyclist has a high probability of being killed or seriously injured.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    To answer your question. Yes, I believe (based on data) adamantly that cyclists are much safer riding in a bike lane next to parked vehicles on a road that has motor vehicles traveling at 50+ mph. I do not believe in the insular Neanderthal like dogmatic ideology that cyclists fair best when riding in front of motor vehicles even if the motorists are traveling at 50+ mph.

  • Matt Myerhoff

    Thanks for reporting this! Please note that this is an improvement project on 7 miles of existing “bike route” (mixed vehicle and bicycle traffic, designated with signs) and a new 2 mile “bike lane” (separate lane for cyclists only, designated with white road stripes and street signs). Thanks, Matt, City of Malibu PIO. http://www.malibucity.org

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