Photos by Asia Morris.
At Beach Streets Uptown, you can actually ride your bike. Unlike big-time ciclovías, where the streets become so congested you're forced every so often to brake abruptly and dismount, cyclists were able to cruise up and down Atlantic Avenue in a leisurely fashion without a hitch last Saturday.
Unicyclists, Razor scooterists, rollerbladers, pedestrians and more convened to experience Long Beach’s first Open Streets event, where a three-mile stretch of Atlantic from Wardlow Road to Harding Street—a six miles round trip—was closed off to automobiles to create the city's own version of the Bogotá, Colombia-pioneered concept of a ciclovía.
Thanks to the City of Long Beach, Los Angeles County Metro, The Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association, the Uptown Business District, including dozens of volunteers and dedicated city organizers, Beach Streets Uptown was a major success. The community seemed to revel in the avenue-turned-playground as they rode, played, walked, ate and shopped with their friends and families during a cloudy cool morning-turned sunny afternoon.
There was no shortage of things to do. Local bike shop The Cog and Crank hosted a four-checkpoint race, sending off 20 or so ecstatic competitors on a 30-mile mad dash throughout the city for prizes and bragging rights. Several artists were seen painting storefront windows, while those curious stopped to observe the process up close. Live music and resounding applause was heard from every block of the course, while restaurants with outdoor patios served as popular watering holes for those needing to recharge and rehydrate.
The Beach Streets Village Fest drew a large and excited crowd to Houghton Park with headlining artist The Pharcyde. Bubbles were blown, picnics were had and dance moves were executed as the community left their homes to gather and connect. Locals and visitors alike truly took back the streets of North Long Beach on Saturday, showing just how important it is to get outside and meet your neighbors, to cultivate the feeling that you’re a part of something much bigger than yourself, a thriving, vibrant and unique populace.