Photo by Allan Crawford
When 2nd District Councilmember Jeannine Pearce took office, she was hearing the Parking Warriors very clearly: they wanted more spaces, dammit. And she said she would provide them. 100 to be exact. All within her first 100 days.
Well, that latter part has long passed but she has quietly garnered the ability to acquire more spaces as confirmed by the City’s Parking Operations team—by removing the only direct access to the beach between Belmont Shore and DTLB through stripping Junipero of the buffered bike lane to add diagonal parking between Broadway and Ocean.
For one, it makes a city trying to become the world’s most bike-friendly city look like a joke. Even more, this hasty project will not garner Pearce nor the angry folks circling around for parking 100 additional spots; we’re looking at maybe fifteen more and that’s pushing it.
But I want to come to a bridge here with the many folk who detest and know of my very…
Very public distaste for catering to the almighty car over humans and other forms of transportation. And when I say I want to come to a bridge, I really mean this.
Admittedly, you are not going to ever hear me cheer or support widened roads or parking structures and lots because those things aren’t viable for our future. (It’s high time that the auto industry recognizes that their competitors are no longer other car companies but organizations like Apple and Google—and that’s because driverless vehicles will be more common much sooner than we think, which means putting large amounts of money into individually, human-operated cars isn’t economically or socially smart.)
So before I start building this bridge, I will be forthright in saying this is not me supporting the creation of space for cars over humans. However, I will admit that areas of Long Beach were horribly designed for their times.
During the 1960s and 70s, Long Beach ushered in a plethora of development by allowing developers to include on-street parking in their parking requirements. This was, obviously, appealing for developers since it dramatically reduced the cost of construction. However, come fifty years later, we have neighborhoods like Bluff Heights and Alamitos Beach that have buildings with 20 or 30 units and deeply limited parking; pair this with skyrocketing rents (equating to more people sharing a single room and bringing their cars with them, making units have more vehicles than imagined attached to them) and the increase in infrastructure toward the individual vehicle rather than public transportation (bringing in the all-too-common theme of You Can’t Get Around Without a Car in SoCal), and you have a nightmare.
I get it.
But Pearce’s proposal is wrought with a lack of creativity—for both bicyclists and drivers.
Firstly, I want to return to my point about the Junipero bike lane. It is the sole access to the beach by bike between the Shore and DTLB. Every weekend, I see family after family using it to get to the car-free zone that is the Beach Bike Path. Every day, I see countless folk riding to and from yoga on the bluff. Cutting this off to offer a handful of parking spaces is utterly regressive.
Even more, if Pearce is looking at diagonal parking, she should be looking at 3rd Street. And no, I don’t mean removing the bike lane from that street; I mean removing the eastbound traffic from 3rd and directing it Appleton and Broadway.
Yup: couple Appleton (for eastbound traffic) and 3rd Street (for westbound traffic since 3rd becomes a west-only street at Alamitos anyway). This frees up a lane on 3rd, allowing diagonal parking on both sides, keeps the bike lane, and still continues to give families and casual riders safe access to the beach and Retro Row on their bikes.
But my ultimate point will not be framed by parking for individually owned cars: we cannot eradicate transit ways that are far more viable for the future population, provide safe access for families and individuals seeking to explore the shoreline, and environmentally sound in favor of an infrastructural band aid.
So why would I support this? Because in the end, that diagonal parking is not going to be there. It will give way to green space, shared space, biking space, walking space, and much more because most of the future population will not own cars. And no, I do not mean fifty years from now. I don’t even mean fifteen. The more and more we invest in transit (which we are doing), the more we care about how we travel (which we are doing), the more and more tech companies look at eradicating traffic-related deaths through self-driving vehicles (which they are), the less of our precious land we will have to give to the almighty-but-dying-slowly individually owned and driven car.
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