Tens of thousands of people on bicycles, skateboards, and other active methods of transportation rolled into Long Beach on Saturday to celebrate the return of the popular Beach Streets event.
Beach Streets is an annual single-day event that started in 2015 and showcases the city’s businesses and neighborhoods. It attracts tens of thousands of people each year, with participants able to experience unrestricted access to areas around the city that are normally occupied by vehicle traffic.
This year, the event coincided with the official opening of the Mark Bixby Memorial Bicycle and Pedestrian Path that was built on the Long Beach International Gateway Bridge.
“It’s fitting to have this bike path opening on the same day as Beach Streets, which is also a celebration of biking, and walking, and community,” Mark’s brother, Brett Bixby, said during a pre-ribbon cutting ceremony held in front of City Hall. “We miss Mark dearly and daily. He would be exceedingly proud today.”
Mark, a member of one of the city’s founding families, was an active community volunteer and cycling advocate who helped found the Long Beach Bicycle Festival before he died in a 2011 plane crash.
City officials, along with Rep. Nanette Barragán, honored Mark’s family during the ceremony Saturday and spoke about Mark’s efforts toward creating the new bicycle and pedestrian path.
“I know we’ve all been waiting for the day where we could walk or ride the pathway ever since the new bridge opened to vehicles in 2020,” Barragán said. “We know the difference it makes when we advocate, when we go out and we’re heard and we build coalitions to get things done. Mark Bixby is the example of that. … We owe him a debt of gratitude.”
Following a ribbon-cutting ceremony, cyclists were able to use the path for the very first time and overlook the port before making their way over to the nearby Beach Streets event, which stretched down some major roads across Broadway from Downtown to Belmont Heights.
Previous years of Beach Streets events have featured other areas of the city, such as Downtown, Cambodia Town, the Grand Prix track located south of Ocean Boulevard and East Long Beach.
Aside from being able to enjoy a large closed-off section of the city to take a ride or stroll, Beach Streets offered a whopping eight hubs—three more than last year—some which offered skateboarding lessons, live music performances, carnival games and magic shows.
At the Downtown Hub, Shalini Mattina and her peers grooved in their roller skates to the musical sound of Los Vecinos (The Neighbors), who jazzed the crowd up with their covers of cumbia, salsa and Latin-rock songs.
Mattina heard about the event through Instagram and word quickly spread between her friends and skate groups.
“I absolutely love it, especially the music,” Mattina said.
Orlando Gonzalez strolled along Pine Avenue enjoying the environment with his 3-year-old son.
After hearing about Beach Streets from family and friends, he decided to give it a try and see what all the fuss was about.
By noon, after noticing how meaningful the event was for the community, and seeing how people were responding to it, Gonzalez said it had made him want to move to Long Beach.
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