Long Beach’s Broadway Corridor to Get Protected Bike Lanes, Expanded Sidewalks, More

Photo by Brian Addison.

Much to the applause of urbanists and lovers of streets, Mayor Robert Garcia and the Long Beach’s Public Works Departments came out with great news at today’s Broadway Visioning Forum: the in-dire-need-of-love Broadway Corridor will not just be the first and largest infrastructure project from Measure A funds; it will be lined with Class 1 protected bike lines, expanded sidewalks, and decreased car lanes.

I’ve been a longtime and outspoken advocate for a better Broadway—and not just because I wanted to see bike lanes. Complete streets aren’t just about siphoning off car access but rather examining the neighborhoods that their main streets run through. And in the case of Broadway, years after years of community meetings have led to these main concerns: calming down traffic, heightening bike connections, widening sidewalks, improving parking, adding better lighting, and providing facade improvements for buildings.

This probably explained why the neighborhood surrounding the Broadway Corridor voted for Measure A—the tax initiative that focused on generating safety and public infrastructure funds—by over 80%.

Representatives from the Public Works Department emphasized that they are not solely focused on the Spandex-clad bike clubbers but rather the “eight-to-eighty crowd” that uses their bike alone, walks to the park, invests in the neighborhoods, and uses the streets for more than driving.

What the City is going to do is nothing short of a massive undertaking and one that would have never happened had it not been for the countless years that advocates have been looking to have a better corridor paired with the recent influx of money needed to make the project possible. It’s a dream for the neighborhood.

The announcement is no hiccup: Broadway is undergoing an entire renovation, from sewer lines below to the complete revamp of the street itself. It will be shrunk from four lanes to two lanes of vehicle traffic with one lane each direction for bikes protected with bollards, and two lanes dedicated to parking (with the possibility of increasing parking following a study to be conducted).

“We studied Broadway as well as side streets so that we were assured that impacts would not impede other areas,” said Sean Crumby of Public Works. “In fact, we studied traffic and determined that no traffic impacts will be met by reducing Broadway to two lanes. So we can have a road diet without an impact; traffic will be removed from pedestrians and bicyclists while those driving won’t face an impact in their commute.”

The bike lanes are probably the biggest deal because it allows a much more efficient, safer connection between Long Beach east of Alamitos and west of it. Currently, bicyclists take 3rd and are met with the dangerous intersection of 3rd and Alamitos, where they have to weave through cars to get onto the DTLB protected lanes.

According to Crumby, the DTLB lanes are up for renovation and that bid is out to contractors to take on the job. That renovation will be incorporated on how to best connect Broadway to DTLB. That could mean several situations; perhaps they will push the westbound bike lane on Broadway through Alamitos and up Lime, connecting to 3rd with full protection (leaving eastbound Broadway bicyclists somehow having to maneuver to the south side of Broadway to get across Alamitos)… Perhaps Broadway and 3rd will be decoupled… Who knows?

In terms of parking, Crumby notes they “really looked into parking”—and he wasn’t kidding: they’re conducting a study. They are looking into metered parking (which in turn could bring in revenue for businesses should a BID come about), permit parking, angled parking on connecting and side streets like Junipero, and parking brackets or Ts, which force people to park properly rather than double parking or not pulling forward to the parking spot’s edge.

One man actually lamented the idea of parking Ts, saying that since they are required to be a certain length, it will actually cut off spots. This is true to some extent and while I am happy he was confident about his neighborhood—”We are very efficient; we never take up additional space”—I am not so confident. Living across from Bixby Park, double-parkers, inept parallel parkers, and selfish parkers holding spots for future guests is the name of the game.

Bring on the parking Ts, baby—I don’t care how Draconian it is or how efficient you claim people park. There is not one iota of evidence that people properly use space if given it (and you can look forward to my “100 Photos of People Parking like A**holes” piece soon to prove just that).

The City, actually, deserves applause on this—despite the handful of NIMBYs, including the woman uttering “Bullshit” under her breath repeatedly. This is a massive undertaking and one that would have never happened had it not been for the countless years that advocates have been looking to have a better corridor paired with the recent influx of money needed to make the project possible.

It’s a dream for any neighborhood.

They’ll be breaking ground this year while the aforementioned parking study will be finished before the end of this year but after the groundbreaking. But, I want to end on a much more hopeful note—and that is through the complaints of angry, old NIMBYs and/or confused individuals. Here are the various things brought up by these folks:

  • Skateboarders need to be banned because they “run people off the sidewalk everyday.”
  • If bike lanes aren’t used “all the time, 24 hours a day,” they shouldn’t be built.
  • “I want low rent, storage for my car for free, safe streets, better lighting, more parking buuuuut I don’t want any new housing or any new people moving here, I don’t want my commute in my car being remotely hindered, and I don’t want to see homeless people.”
  • There is no point to any design if we aren’t paying homage to Craftsman homes nearby.
  • What about the rain water?
  • More parking.
  • The most parking but make it pretty.
  • “Oh, so you are making more parking… But on Junipero? That doesn’t help us all the way over on Falcon.

I’ll end it on that last one because, actually, yeah, it does help you even “all the way” (i.e. one-third of a mile—the distance! *cue faint*) on Falcon.

We’re all in this together, amigo, and if you have to walk an extra block after you’ve parked, forget that you walked it and maybe think about it as good for your heath, good for your neighborhood by adding foot traffic, and a chance for you to clear your mind after, well, sitting in a car in all the traffic that people in individual cars cause.

Cheer up. We’re getting what the folks wanted nearly two decades ago. That’s nothing short of awesome.

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