Cycling Advocates, City Officials Meet to Discuss State of Bicycling in Long Beach

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Public Works’ Community Programs Specialist Tony Cruz speaks at the Bixby Park Community Center during a Bicycle Roundtable Wednesday night. Photo by Asia Morris.

Wednesday night’s Bicycle Roundtable meeting, an ongoing conversation on how the City of Long Beach, local bicycling advocates and health organizations can better work together to improve bicycling citywide, was hosted by Public Works’ Community Programs Specialist Tony Cruz at the Bixby Park Community Center. Several updates and announcements were made regarding the state of bike boulevards being built, Long Beach Bike Share and more.

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Michelle Mowrey, the city’s new mobility and healthy living programs officer, introduced herself to the 15 or so attendees. Mowrey now oversees the programs and projects involving healthy transportation options and comes with over 35 years of experience serving the public, of which 23 were spent developing the Bicycle Program for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

Long Beach Bike Share

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 File photo by Asia Morris.

News for Long Beach Bike Share includes an expansion to Cal State Long Beach, where eight drop zone locations (which are not bike share stations, but zones where you can drop the bike and not be penalized), as well as bike share stations at each of the CSULB shuttle stops, will be installed starting this week. Further expansion of the network is also planned for north and west Long Beach. The program overall has more than tripled its number of memberships in the last year from 5,111 to 18,426, with the current system maintaining a total of 60 stations and drop zones.

The biggest news involving the bike share program is a recent change in operators. Initially operated by CycleHop, starting almost two months ago, Pedal Movement is now the interim operator of the program. Pedal Movement also operates the Bikestation on 1st Street in downtown, which will become Long Beach Bike Share’s headquarters. Eventually the program will send out a request for proposals for a permanent operator, as is required by city processes, according to Mowrey.

The city is also working with transit to open up the 1st Street mall so that bicyclists can actually ride up to Bikestation, something the current street layout ironically does not allow.

Bike Boulevards

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Image of the 15th Street Bike Boulevard courtesy of the City of Long Beach.

Still in the design and planning process is the Broadway Bike Boulevard, where between Alamitos and Redondo avenues, a bike lane against the curb will offer protection for cyclists and a continuation of the Broadway cycle track in downtown Long Beach. Compared to protected bike lanes layed out in the past, some of which are also against the curb with critics saying they don't provide enough space to avoid an opened passenger door, the Broadway Bike Boulevard will be more spacious with more of a buffer between cyclists and the cars parked against it. Initially slated to break ground this month, Public Works officials said the environmental phase of the planning process is taking longer than expected, and are hoping the protected lane, including a road diet, will be complete sometime next year.

Construction on the 9.5-mile Daisy-Myrtle Bike Boulevard, to provide a safer north-south bikeway connecting downtown to the Wrigley, Los Cerritos, Bixby Knolls and North Long Beach areas, is slated to begin in January 2018. Construction on the 15th Street Bike Boulevard, to provide an east-west connection using 14th, New York and 15th streets and Ximeno Avenue between Magnolia Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway, is slated to start just a couple months after.

Construction on the 6th Street Bike Boulevard is well underway, with completion expected in December of the 2.5-mile east-west bikeway connecting Retro Row and the Rose Park, Belmont Heights, Alamitos Heights and CSULB areas. Roundabouts, mini traffic circles, wayfinding signage and more make up this soon-to-be finished bike boulevard.

Events

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File photo by Asia Morris from the Beach Streets Uptown in 2015.

Volunteers are still needed for the City of Long Beach’s 10th Annual Bike Count. Aiming to place participants at an ambitious 25 locations throughout the city, the count helps provide important metrics to city planners aiming to improve safety for motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. The sites included this year are along upcoming project routes on Bellflower Boulevard, 15th Street, Daisy Avenue and more.


 

The Beach Streets saga has come full circle with the next event set to take place in the neighborhood where it first began, Uptown Long Beach. With a Halloween theme, the October 28 event will close part of Atlantic Avenue and Wardlow Road to traffic, and open it up to pedestrians, cyclists, skaters, scooters, roller bladers and more. You won’t want to miss out on this “people-powered party.” Check out the Facebook event page here for more info.

Moonlight Mash will soon be celebrating its two-year anniversary of leading bicyclists on monthly rides throughout Long Beach under the light of the full moon. Coming up this December, expect a celebratory ride and one epic after party, most likely at The Packard. Keep up to date with Moonlight Mash as details are finalized via their Facebook page here.

Other Announcements

Bikeable Communities, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing safer bicycle infrastructure, is asking people to oppose CalTrans’ proposal to build “diverging diamond interchanges” at most over crossings, which include PCH, in its multibillion-dollar upgrade to the 710 freeway. Bikeable Communities has proposed separate facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians, which you can learn more about via the Facebook post below:



Announced back in March, Pedal Movement was granted $100,000 from Just Transit to convert four shipping containers into a network of bicycle service facilities. Pedal Movement co-owner Evan Kelly told the Post they’ve just picked out the first shipping container, so expect to see a group of newly outfitted container spaces offering low-cost repairs, bike parts and more to pop up in the very near future.


 

Cruz spoke of the success of his Bike Camp Pilot, a program to be implemented in schools to teach kids how to ride bikes, as well as how to obey traffic laws and all things related to bicycling safely. Cruz found that one day a week for five weeks garnered more parent involvement and more kids wanting to ride their bikes to and from school. Mowrey and Cruz threw out ideas such as requiring bicycle safety to be a mandatory PE class, all in an effort to inform youth about the benefits of bicycling before they become drivers.



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