Creating a cyclist-friendly town
Thread started by User1
at 03.30.09 - 2:08 pmCreating a cyclist-friendly town
A festive celebration and races can help Long Beach become the place to be for bike addicts.
It helps to have an avid cyclist as city manager if you want turn your town into the bike-friendliest big city in the country, which Long Beach intends to do.
The two-day event that will help cinch the title starts a week from today. It's the Long Beach bicycle festival, April 3 to 4, which will bring recreational and competitive cycling to the downtown area.
The East Village Arts District will have a Bike Expo on Friday, with a vendor fair, displays of urban cycling gear, cold sprints, fixed-gear competition, DJs, a bike valet and a beer and wine garden.
The following day, Pine Avenue will stage a Finish Line Festival, with amateur and professional bike races from 1 to 7 p.m.; a family-friendly area with a rock-climbing wall, face painter, bounce house, balloon artist and wildlife petting zoo. For the adults, there will be a vendor fair, restaurant fare, Cyclestyle fashion show, awards ceremony, DJs and a live concert in the evening.
The festival, sponsored by Downtown Long Beach Associates, Long Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and Long Beach Redevelopment Agency, is the opening sprint. What City Hall, inspired at least partly by cyclist and City Manager Pat West, plans next is to use $10 million in grant money to make city streets among the safest and most attractive to cyclists.
This will mean creating connected and easily navigated bike routes, bike-friendly public transit, bike-sharing, bike programs and fostering
the sort of environment in which cars and cyclists can interact safely.
One of the more interesting plans to to create protected bike lanes similar to those in Paris, Barcelona, Manhattan and other big cities, which separate cyclists and cars with curbing, plantings and other buffer areas. This sharply reduces the risks and enhances the pleasures of urban cycling, without interfering with vehicle traffic.
City Hall has an eye on two broad, one-way thoroughfares that could easily support protected bike lanes, Broadway and Third Street between Golden and Alamitos. When designed well, the bike lanes can make drab streets more attractive to motorists and bikers alike.
Quiet streets adjacent to main thoroughfares could be made into bike boulevards, which would have striping, signage and roundabouts and be shared by bikes and cars. An example might by Vista Street, between Temple and Nieto avenues.
Some streets, too narrow for bicycle lanes, could become sharrows, or shared roadways with markings reminding motorists that bicyclists will be on the road, too. One of these could be Second Street between Livingston Drive and Bayshore.
The Bicycle Festival is a lively way to start. It also is a reminder that even in the midst of an economic downturn what a difference it can make when public and private groups get together and make the streets come alive with celebration. In Long Beach, the Bixby Knolls and Belmont Shore areas are good at this. Downtown needs more of it.
Bicyclists can help make it happen.
Editorial response to the Press Telegram article above
Written by LBC member, Russ Roca, in response to this Press Telegram editorial. Note, that this doesn't necessarily reflect the opinion of all the members but his own. If you have an opinion on the new bicycle initiative, send it in, we'd like to hear it!
I applaud the city's interest in making Long Beach bicycle friendly, but there are also lots of very simple, inexpensive ways in which this could be quickly accomplished that I think are being overlooked.
It is no mystery that a lot of conflict that occurs between cyclists and motorists stem from a misunderstanding of where it is bikes belong. Hence motorists incorrectly yelling at cyclists to "get on the sidewalk" and that "roads are for cars." In the California Vehicle Code, it is stated that bicycles have all the rights and responsibilities of other roadway users.
Simply put: Bicycles have the right to be on the road.
Truly bicycle friendly cities support this basic right from the TOP down and make it clear in unequivocal terms that bicycles are an accepted and valued roadway users.
What does this mean for Long Beach? I would like a statement from Chief Batts that he has his officers understand and will help protect this right of cyclists. I would like to see similar statements from other community leaders and this newspaper that bikes unequivocally have rights to the road that should be respected.
Why is this important?
While the occasional new bicycle lane or bicycle facility when well designed is welcomed, that improvement affects only that very specific area. It does nothing for the cyclists in other parts of the city who may never encounter the new improvements. However, a powerful blanket statement from our top brass and an aggressive bicycles belong campaign makes every mile of Long Beach more bicycle friendly, not just those select few blocks.
The challenge of making a city bicycle friendly is not just an infrastructure one, but also a cultural one. In this way, bicycle rights parallel civil rights. Though cyclists have all the rights of other roadway users, they are marginalized and treated as 2nd class citizens. They are verbally harassed and threatened everyday on the streets, yet there are no actions to stymie this sort of behavior.
My fear is that if the city promotes these separated facilities, WITHOUT simultaneously asserting the rights of cyclists on ALL streets, it will give the impression that cyclists must only use these facilities and are not legitimate roadway users. This happens now at Hartwell Park where there is a cycle path near a roadway. I have ridden there and have been harassed and told to use the path, even though it doesn't serve where I want to go.
I'd like to challenge the city to not only look in terms of infrastructure but roadway culture as well, when they take on the task of making Long Beach cyclist friendly.
04.2.09 - 9:32 pm