Community effort certainly isn’t possible without the support of local businesses, sponsorships, artists and the area’s very own residents when it comes to achieving a common goal: improving quality of life.
Such was the goal of Activate Uptown, a free open streets event that took place in North Long Beach on Saturday, providing the public with Vice Mayor Rex Richardson’s second annual Village Fest and other fun-filled activities.
While Village Fest was the main attraction for Activate Uptown that featured renowned hip hop artists Talib Kweli, MURS and others to benefit the North Long Beach Education Fund, the event also highlighted new street improvements with safety measures for both cyclists and pedestrians.
City officials involved with the Bicycle Master Plan also demonstrated types of improvements on the horizon, including ones to local streets such as a traffic circle at Myrtle Avenue and Harding Street.
Plans for a new type of bike way on Artesia Boulevard are also being discussed, said Nate Baird, the mobility officer and coordinator for the city.
“It’s basically a parking-protected bike lane, where it’s right next to the curb and parking is floated out a little bit next to the moving vehicles,” Baird said. “It’s a lot safer, more comfortable, easier and more inviting [to] more folks.”
Amber Hawkes, a consultant for Long Beach, said the city is in the process of creating an eight-to-80 network, meaning anyone from the age of eight to 80 would ideally feel comfortable riding city streets.
“Long Beach is already progressive when it comes to bicycle facilities,” said Hawkes. “This would catapult them even further into an amazing stratosphere of places you’d want to bike. Every street that’s in blue on this map, for instance, is part of this proposed eight-to-80 network, so you could take the Blue Line and then get all over the city on this network.”
Colin Piethe, a UCLA urban planning student who volunteered at the event, said these types of events are important for building community.
“Open street events are really great because it lets people take back public space and rethink what it could be,” he said. “Right now [streets] are very car dominated and auto-oriented. These events are a nice platform to let people think about what their streets could be in the future and really take advantage of public space.”
Speaking to the huge crowd gathered for Village Fest, Vice Mayor Richardson thanked all the sponsors for making the free event possible and for helping create the North Long Beach Education Fund, which the event benefited.
“Activate Uptown wouldn’t have been possible without its sponsors,” said Vice Mayor Richardson. “We’re on track [to raise] a hundred thousand dollars here in a second year through efforts like Village Fest. If it wasn’t for North Long Beach and its community, we wouldn’t [have] been able to do this. So thank you!”