Long Beach recognized as one of the nation’s most bike-friendly cities

In one of the most comprehensive rankings of bike-friendly cities, Bicycling magazine has listed Long Beach at #27 among 285 cities analyzed and 40 cities formally ranked.

Up one spot from last year, Long Beach was given extra points for updating its Bicycle Master Plan, adding more miles of protected bike lanes like the ones recently installed along Bellflower, our bike share program, and the city’s ongoing free bike rack program. (Though, admittedly, I’d like to see some of those racks changed.)

“Despite much of Southern California being totally car-dependent, folks in Long Beach are embracing bike projects, and [City of Long Beach Mobility and Healthy Living Coordinator Michelle] Mowry says there’s been relatively little pushback against road diets,” read the excerpt. “There’s also been widespread support for projects like separating the bike lane from a new pedestrian lane on the local San Gabriel River Trail, which improved the experience for both user groups.”

“Widespread support” is perhaps stretching it a bit: Councilmembers Stacey Mungo and Daryl Supernaw have been largely against road diets and bicycling infrastructure in their suburban districts.

Supernaw rejected a road diet on Atherton which he called “an 11th hour proposal” that “grossly favored one neighborhood over another … An elaborate treatment of Atherton would simply be salt in the wound.” To add on top of it, Supernaw is fighting for car-centric businesses, telling the Long Beach Business Journal last month, “We had heard this is a bicycle-friendly city. Well, evidently the private sector didn’t get the memo, because all these [new establishments in my district] are drive-throughs, and they are packed all the time.”

Mungo successfully removed 50 percent of protective bollards along Studebaker’s bike lane between Wardlow Road and Spring Street, noting that “advocacy won” because residents didn’t like the way the bollards worked despite acting as important safety measures. She even further cemented her lack of support for road diets for fear that they would create congestion despite increasing safety.

“I support our environmental efforts, but we need to be careful in rolling out changes to traffic,” she told the Long Beach Business Journal earlier this year. “I’m not in favor of lane reductions that cause more traffic and emissions from idling cars. And no, we don’t need more bollards!”

Meanwhile, on the League of American Cyclists rankings, Long Beach continues to sit with its Silver Medal, which has remained unchanged for over five years—and, in my opinion, a more definitive ranking: The League uses more applicable markers for reaching higher goals in bike-friendliness, such as creating a position at the police department that acts as conduit between law enforcement and the biking community, flushing out biking amenities so they aren’t so concentrated in specific neighborhoods, and increasing bike education services throughout the city.

In fact, Bicycling used the League’s ranking in its own metrics, including others that revolved around safety, age-friendliness for both young and senior riders, and overall culture.

For the full rankings by Bicycling, click here.

Brian Addison is a columnist and editor for the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or on social media at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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