Editorial: Do We Need ‘Bike Lanes’ for Paddleboards?

Newport Beach City Council members recently discussed the growing number of stand-up paddleboards in Newport Harbor, many of which are operated by people who are brand-new to boating and are not familiar with the long-established Rules of the Road for watercraft.            

Some locals worry that it is only a matter of time before a newbie paddleboarder will inadvertently cause a boat collision and/or become injured while paddling in the middle of a busy boat-filled harbor.            

One council member recommended that the situation be studied by the Newport Beach Harbor Commission. And she had a suggestion that has been implemented in Honolulu: Create a special area of the harbor for paddleboarders to operate within — something like a bike lane on the edge of a busy street.            

While striping the harbor like a four-lane highway isn’t exactly practical, the idea of creating a special area for beginning paddleboarders to learn the ropes may have some merit.            

However, once paddleboarders become savvy about operating their watercraft in a manner that keeps themselves — and other harbor users — safe, there should be no discriminatory restrictions on where these boaters (and, using a strictly legal definition, they are boaters) may operate.

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