Over 2,000 People Invade Downtown Long Beach to Bike, Walk, and Skate on the Grand Prix Track

Photos courtesy of Beach Streets. 

Over 2,000 people decided to ditch their car and hop on the Grand Prix track in DTLB with their feet, bikes, strollers, skates, and boards, earning the event its largest turnout since its inception in 2013.

And make no mistake, Long Beach: the first ciclovía Long Beach ever had wasn’t through a formal Beach Streets event but, rather, on the Grand Prix track.

Way back in 2013, the City of Long Beach—with efforts led by then-Bike Ambassador Tony Cruz—asked the Grand Prix Association to briefly shut down the track typically catering to cars hitting 180MPH and, instead, open it to bikes, skaters, strollers, and runners.

Now a part of the Beach Streets set of events, this particular car-free activity has usually drawn a very small crowd because it is always on a Tuesday, in the middle of the day, for a small window of time. (This year, it was for 90 minutes. That’s it. 11:30AM to 1PM. Such a convenient timeframe.)

But despite the temporal hurdle, people showed up to flex their civic muscles. They brought out their strollers, sunblock, skateboards, rollerblades, unicycles, beach cruisers, fixies, roadsters, hell, even their mountain bikes.

And they hit the point on the head by walking and riding in a space where one has never been permitted to do so.

For me, there is something really powerful here.

It shows off the power of people using their bodies.

For me, I believe a ciclovía holds this strange philosophical significance—you invert a street to be used for people’s feet and bikes and skateboards, not cars—that when enacted, suddenly shows off a very tangible benefit: that our urban landscape thrives most when people are exploring it at a human scale. It makes you realize how large your city really is, how small you really are when not surrounded by the metal that is your car, and how the Grand Prix of Long Beach literally builds a city within a city.

They call it the “Grand Prix-View” but for me, its a pure, divine proto-ciclovía for Long Beach. The Grand Prix-lovía.

And it’s awesome.

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Brian Addison has been a writer, editor, and photographer for more than a decade, covering everything from food and culture to transportation and housing. In 2015, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Los Angeles Press Club and has since garnered 16 nominations and two additional wins for Best Political Commentary for his work at KCET and Best Blog for Longbeachize, a section of the Long Beach Post. Brian currently serves as a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post.