Andy and Gandy: League of American Cyclists’ President Visits Long Beach

4_20_10_reed1.jpgCharles Gandy and Andy Clarke.  All Photos: Drew Reed/ LA Loyalist

The
League of American Bicyclists is something of an
oddity in Washington DC. While most other organizations advocate for
strip mining, carcinogens, and other unpleasantries, the LAB argues for
something which will actually improve people’s lives. And while they
have sadly spent most of their 130 year history in the shadow of auto,
highway, and petroleum lobbies, they seem to be making something of a
comeback lately, winning allies in congress as well as the support of Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood.

So it’s no surprise that when the league’s president Andy
Clarke
decided to pay a visit to Long Beach, he was given a grand
tour by the city’s mobility coordinator and bike guru Charlie Gandy. The
tour covered some of Long Beach’s more prominent bicycle improvements, such as the sharrows, widened sidewalks on first street, and bike boxes
by the marina. Gandy also seized the opportunity to unveil new
developments in the Bike Long Beach plan: wider sidewalks (and possibly
sharrows) on 4th St. between Cherry and Junipero, bike lanes on Junipero
between Ocean and 7th, a second bike blvd. on 6th to CSULB, and a
connector on 3rd from Alamitos to Vista. Lastly, he has a status report for the long-awaited projects
on Vista and Broadway/3rd: the city would accept offers from contractors
next week and begin construction shortly afterward.

4_20_10_reed2.jpg

Needless to say, Clarke was sufficiently impressed, as were the other people along for the ride: various members of Long Beach Cyclists and prominent bicycle author Jeff Mapes, who happened to be visiting from
Portland. Along the way, Clarke weighed in with comments about the
potential of cycling to improve the livability of communities, as it has
in Europe. Also, he took the opportunity at Long Beach’s recently
opened Hub bike kitchen to remind people of the importance of community
involvement in improving bicycling within a city.

From a practical standpoint, it’s difficult to tell what the outcome
of this visit will be. As Clarke reminded riders, the primary role of
the LAB is not to work with local governments but to advocate at the
federal level for improved bicycle policy. But being able to point to
local examples of well executed bicycle planning, he explained, is a
highly effective tool for shaping opinions of higher-ups in DC. He
expressed fondness for the design elements Downtown and on Second St,
but he felt the most innovative aspect of the Bike Long Beach program
was the political dexterity of its creation and continued rapid
development within the city.

4_20_10_reed3.jpg

Though Bike Long Beach may not see any immediate benefit from this
meeting, it was clearly a step forward. If a good relationship with the
LAB materializes into favorable federal policy, the city (and perhaps
the entire region) will be closer to its bike friendly aspirations.

  • Way to go Long Beach! Glad to hear Andy Clarke and the LAB was out here and the word is spreading about the exciting things happening in So Cal – especially under Long Beach leadership.

    I was lucky enough to attend the Bike Summit in DC this past March that LAB organizes, would be so great to see even more and a diverse group of So Caler’s next year. I think it’s important for DC to hear from what people want in their communities.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this and for LA Streetsblog’s support of what we’ve got going on in Long Beach. We have a ways to go to hit our goal of becoming “the most bicycle friendly city in America” but we’ve got a lot of energy, good ideas, and as you point out, the political will.

  • Thanks for covering this for those of us who have to work and couldn’t be there. I think Andy Clarke gets what makes those of us who live in Long Beach feel happy with the situation right now — sure, there are things that may not be implemented in the best way, or areas where too much is happening, or not enough, but things are happening, and quickly, so the impression is that it’s a work in progress, and the City feels willing to try new things, and definitely has been open to feedback from advocates. So we are a lot more willing to support the city and not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  • Jack Stephonovic

    Makes me think of moving to Long Beach.

  • LBCyclist (not represented by TC)

    And where was the Bicycle Ambassador Tony Cruz? I haven’t seen him at one Long Beach Cyclists meeting, he wasn’t at the opening of Long Beach’s first bicycle co-op (the HUB), I don’t see him at community rides, he is hit and miss at the Bicycle Advisory Committee meetings. How do I get this gig?

    I was so glad to spend time with Andy and Gandy that day. It was nice to take the League Pres on a tour of my town and show him all of the good things (and the short comings) that Long Beach has.

  • Peter Reed

    I was unaware of the League of American Bicyclists. As a civil engineer, we are being asked more and more to design roads for bicyclists, pedestrians and cars. What will the future hold?

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