Will Long Beach One Day Viva Ciclovia?
L.A. loves CicLAvia, Long Beach Would Love Ciclovía
Of course, I initially received very respectful responses from many of our city’s leaders, all of which focused on cost. Bicycle Coordinator Allan Crawford worked with Bike Long Beach not too long ago to begin looking at a route traversing Broadway, heading up to Anaheim, and ending in near Martin Luther King Park.
A 4-mile stretch to the street closing tune of $100K.
Tony and I—along with Long Beach Post Executive Editor Sarah Bennett (Councilmember Gary DeLong backed out last second)—knew that this talk of money was to be unavoidable but that, if we don’t take some form of a step forward, the idea would remain stagnant. So Tony retorted back with a question of his own: “Wanna go for a ride to see where we can put this thing?”
And that’s precisely what we did.
Starting at Berlin in the East Village Arts District and heading east on 4th, it became clear that it wasn’t neighborhoods which Long Beach lacked; pretty much every stretch of road—even including a business-less stretch of 2nd Street—would make for a beautiful Ciclovía. This was, at least in our minds, to our benefit: we can tighten the route to a more specific area, still keep the idea of activating a neighborhood in mind, and keep costs to a minimum.
This activation concept—utilizing, much like CicLAvia, business districts within the route to help generate foot traffic—was important to all of us. While riding through Belmont Shore, I particularly felt that 2nd Street needn’t be part of the inaugural route; after all, one of the most beautiful aspects of CicLAvia was the diversity of traffic, with many walkers and skaters as well as casual bikers who often left their wheels to meander through businesses. Given the closure or partial closure of the street for events almost monthly, we all agreed that stretches of Broadway, 4th, Anaheim, Pine, and even perhaps parts of North Long Beach needed far more foot traffic.
Secondly, the tight-knit business associations associated with these stretches of streets could be financially beneficial—and at this point, every penny counts. Kirsten Kansteiner, owner of Berlin and Portfolio Coffeehouse—both on 4th—showed clear support of the idea while chatting before we ventured on our some 11 mile ride (not to mention that, beyond being an bike ally, she’s had small street closure experience within Retro Row). The mantra “Keep it Long Beach” is of no mythical origin; it’s entirely true and if we don’t involve local business, all three of us were certain the project would be inept.
This became a particularly driven point while riding along Vista, the first street focused on bike safety and sharing in Long Beach while being Tony’s first pet project as Bike Ambassador: if Long Beach is to have a Ciclovía, it has to be a public-private partnership. To have the city take on the burden entirely is not just unfair, its not Long Beach (L.A. should be both proud and understanding of its privilege that the city was able to take on CicLAvia’s costs initially). Many names—the Port of Long Beach, Downtown Long Beach Associates, Molina Healthcare—were thrown around as possible supporters of the endeavor and we knew, in essence, it was possible.
That was key: less banter, more possibility.
And though we knew that the lingering thought of dollar bills was always present, the more we rode, the more possible it felt. We have the community, we have the interest, we have the businesses, we have the neighborhoods, we have multiple routes we can consider. and, at least for me, we have the city—they have our backs on this, almost undoubtedly. What it comes down to is a larger structural support beyond the city… So to Long Beach private powerhouses: Tony and I are lookin’ at you.