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Laguna Beach City, Schools Collaborate on E-bike Safety

More than 120 students within the Laguna Beach Unified School District participated in an electric bike safety program in exchange for a permit to park their bike on campus amid concerns about speeding and safety.

(TNS) — Laguna Beach public safety officials had a chance to share some of the programs being offered while interfacing with the town's school-aged population.

During a joint session of the Laguna Beach City Council and the school board on Tuesday night, authorities addressed topics such as safety on roadways, emergency preparedness and fostering leadership in the community's teens.

An electric bike safety program has seen more than 120 students within the Laguna Beach Unified School District participate, officials said. Participants sit in on a classroom presentation, and they are evaluated for riding skills and via a written exam.

Those who complete the e-bike safety program then receive a permit to park their bike on campus. Laguna Beach law enforcement officials are currently conducting their fourth e-bike safety class. The program got underway at Thurston Middle School last summer.

"E-bike safety is a big deal nationwide," Police Capt. Mike Peters said. "It's huge. Everybody is battling the same things that we are battling here in Laguna Beach. It just so happens that it's probably a bigger problem in coastal cities, but it is a problem everywhere, to the point that we're taking the lead with the promotion of [Senate Bill ] 381..."

"The bill will assist law enforcement with data collection, licensing, enforcement and safety. In addition to that, the Office of Traffic Safety has contacted us to sit on some of their panels because Laguna Beach is leading the charge in school safety, school education and that type of project to curb some of the issues that are surrounding e-bikes."

A road safety expo was held at Top of the World Elementary on May 21, which featured a miniature road course and helmet education, as well as a vehicle extrication demonstration by the fire department.

School board member Joan Malczewski said she wished to see greater enforcement against speeding in school zones.

"I would like to know what we're doing to focus on the drivers because we have a town that people drive very fast," Malczewski said during the joint session. "It was a problem before the e-bikes were here. I live on Park Avenue. ... I will tell you that in the morning, there are many e-bikes just zooming down Park Avenue.

"If they're going to the high school, a car coming up that curve more than 25 miles per hour, it's just a disaster waiting to happen. It makes me nervous all the time. ... Where I come from, school zones and residential areas have a 25-mile-per-hour speed limit. I don't understand why we don't patrol for speeding in these key areas. There are two schools right on Park Avenue, and a long stretch that people drive really fast."

Peters responded that speeding in the neighborhoods has been a concern of the community, adding that city officials have endeavored to enhance the enforcement capabilities of the department. The city recently increased its total number of motor officers to four.

"Traffic, in general, is a very prolific problem in the city, and the [motor officers] take special attention to the school areas because everybody has kids and understands the importance of it," Peters said. "Your thoughts are taken on, and I'll make sure I relay them to our motors to pay a lot more closer attention."

A teen leadership academy for high school students has also seen participation from more than 100 students. The program promotes workforce skills, community service, diversity and tolerance. It also emphasizes avoiding common hurdles such as alcohol and drugs.

Laguna Beach fire personnel have also started a CPR and Stop-the-Bleed campaign at the high school. Twenty students participated in the initial community emergency response team training sessions this spring.

"The fire department is working on our CPR, Stop-the-Bleed training, and the Narcan training starting in the fall, so that moving forward starting next year every freshman will be trained ...," Brendan Manning, emergency operations coordinator for Laguna Beach, said. "Within four years, we'll have every single high school student [trained], that's just going to be our [modus operandi].

©2023 the Daily Pilot (Costa Mesa, Calif.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.