What if Long Beach were an entirely walkable city? An environment where its citizens actually choose to be outside, to walk from the Metro to home or from home to a neighborhood park? Where, instead of walking past an empty lot of dust bowl-like dirt or having to face off against distracted drivers, pedestrians might actually enjoy the scenery and feel safe doing so?
On Friday, September 19, two different pedestrian improvement gatherings are being held, where participants can give their opinion on the state of walkability in Long Beach and what the community as a whole can do to improve it.
As part of the city’s Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Pedestrian Master Plan, WalkForth: A Community Pop-Up Street Installation will create temporary urban inventions or pop-up installations on 4th St., between Alamitos Ave. and Long Beach Blvd., that will encourage the community to envision proposed improvement concepts for a more walkable city. On Friday, from 11:00AM to 6:00PM, visitors can experience each installation and give the project team input on what they think works and what doesn’t work.
Thanks to a grant provided by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), many of the proposed concepts, including but not limited to mid-block crossings, curb extensions, landscaped medians, green alleys and added neighborhood gardens were created in an effort to increase pedestrian access to and from Metro Blue Line Stations throughout Long Beach.
On the same day starting at noon and ending at 2:00PM, Walk Long Beach and Healthy Active Long Beach will be holding a sidewalk workshop on the corner of Pacific Ave. and 21st St. at Northgate Market. Focused on improving the walkability of the Wrigley Village neighborhood, attendees are encouraged to share their pedestrian improvement ideas and will receive a pedestrian improvement toolkit.
Walk Long Beach, a collaboration between the YMCA and City Fabrick, has partnered with Healthy Active Long Beach for this planning project. Inspired by the spirit of walkability in accordance with healthy food access, part of the Wrigley Sidewalk Workshop will include a citrus-themed park(ing) day installation at the Northgate Market Corner.
“The sidewalk workshop is part of a larger outreach effort for developing pedestrian improvement guidelines for West and Central Long Beach—a project which we are working on through Healthy Active Long Beach at the LB Health Department, funded by the USDA," Melissa Wheeler, Mission Advancement Coordinator for the YMCA of Greater Long Beach explained.
“We’ve also been holding walking assessments and walking workshops with the study neighborhoods, and we are also using our outreach efforts to collect points of interest for our walking loop cards.” These workshops include “Wednesday Walks,” a new walking series happening on the second Wednesday of every month.
Tiffany Peterson, designer and coordinator of City Fabrick’s pedestrian planning work, and Brian Ulaszewski, City Fabrick’s Executive Director, explained that everyone is a pedestrian at some point. “Better walkability means easier, safer pedestrian connections: to get to the grocery store, to stop by your favorite coffee shop, to walk your kids to school. Safer pedestrian connections encourages more physical activity, more visits to local businesses, more community. In the end, it’s about improving the quality of life for all of us—seniors, children, residents, visitors,” Peterson said.
Ulaszewski said, “These workshops are an opportunity to engage West and Central Long Beach residents in the walkability discussion of how to improve the physical environment for pedestrians. We can supply some technical knowledge and tools, but ultimately, it’s the locals who know their neighborhood best and who we hope to empower with these tools so that together, we can all be advocates for better walkability.”