A newly-painted pedestrian and bicycle path atop the recently built bridge at the Long Beach port was officially inaugurated as the Mark Bixby Memorial Bicycle Pedestrian Path during a private event Saturday in honor of the long-time champion of cycling and member of one of the city’s founding families.
Although the path is not yet open to the public, the Freddies—Bixby’s cycling group—were the first to ride their bikes across the expanse. Family, friends and some Long Beach city officials were taken up in golf-carts to tour the three resting points dotting the bridge.
Bixby was killed in a plane crash at the Long Beach Airport in 2011 along with four others. The legacy he left behind and his passion for community bike paths helped Long Beach planners make a way for the bike path on the newly-named Long Beach International Gateway Bridge that was completed last year to replace the Gerald Desmond Bridge.
Seeing Bixby on a bike traveling over 20 miles an hour with his cycling buddies was never rare, family said. Theresa Bixby, his wife, said naming a bike path in her husband’s name was fitting, giving his cycling athleticism and love of sharing the sport with the community.
“It’s a great honor and tribute to him,” she said. His daughter, Kirra Bixby, said she looks forward to the day she can ride her bike on the path, too.
The Bixby family is considered one of the main founding families of Long Beach. Historically, they owned large acres of farmland at Rancho Los Cerritos and Rancho Los Alamitos where they raised sheep and cattle. Descendants of the family were instrumental in shaping Long Beach over the years. Mark took up that same leadership ambition to help develop the city’s Bicycle Master Plan and founded the Long Beach Bike Festival.
More construction is expected to take place over the next several months before cyclists and joggers can use the bike path. A connector bridge from Ocean Boulevard to the bridge is currently under construction.
Kerry Gerot, the port’s communications director, said construction on the connecting bridge will take at least a year and a half.