Introducing the Long Beach “Ciclovía”

Click on the image to see a larger version of the map.

For readers and Long Beachers alike, they have known of my dream to bring a ciclovía to our city, my dream of shutting down a large stretch of street to make way for cyclists and skaters, walkers and runners.

According to officials, it wasn’t a matter of discussion but one of money. And according to my own experience with Tony Cruz, it wasn’t just about money, but about the space itself–where the hell would we put one without causing a cramp in the neck of the police department and city planning?

And at least for me, I believe a ciclovía holds this strange philosophical power–you invert a street to be used for people’s feet and bikes and skateboard, not cars–that when enacted, suddenly shows off a very tangible benefit–that our urban landscape thrives most when people are exploring it at a human scale.

Now, we have the chance to show off just what type of event this could be since this coming Thursday, Long Beach will finally get its first ciclovía.

Okay, okay, so I slightly misled you, dear reader. But in all fairness, the fact that the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach is opening up its race circuit–which runs the length of Shoreline Drive and Seaside Way in its entirety–to everyone but motorized vehicles and your four-legged friends (sorry, they don’t trust you’ll pick up after your critters and we don’t necessarily blame them, particularly when cars will be reaching speeds of 180MPH right where your pup might alleviate itself).

They call it the “Grand Prix-view” but for me, its a pure, divine proto-ciclovía for Long Beach–and it’s something that hasn’t been done in the 39 years that the Grand Prix has been struttin’ along Shoreline. The Grand Prix-lovía.

And though it’s only for two hours from 2 pm to 4 pm tomorrow, there are possibilities abound here, Long Beach. This is a test to show just how much we can flex our civic muscles. It is time to bring out your strollers, sunblock, skateboards, rollerblades (yes, I said rollerblades), unicycles, beach cruisers, fixies, roadsters, hell, even your mountain bikes (the terrain on the track can be daunting). The point is to invade and enjoy walking and riding in a space where you’ve never been permitted to do so. I can guarantee you: it will make you realize how large your city really is, how small you really are when not surrounded by the metal that is your car, and how the Grand Prix of Long Beach literally builds a city within a city.

Entrance will be permitted at the two eastern points of Linden Ave & Seaside Way and Shoreline Drive & Seaside Way. The event is entirely free and for those needing to drive to the area, parking will be available at the Pike Parking Structure located at 65 S. Cedar Ave.