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Long Beach Celebrates New Protected Bike Lanes On Artesia Boulevard

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia (center) and Vice Mayor Rex Richardson (left) tour the new Artesia Blvd protected bike lanes. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia (center) and Vice Mayor Rex Richardson (left, white shirt) tour the new Artesia Blvd protected bike lanes. Photos: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Long Beach celebrated its newest protected bike lane facility this morning. The Artesia Boulevard bike lanes extend half a mile from Atlantic Boulevard to Orange Avenue. The lanes are parking-protected, and feature green plastic reflective bollards, rubber curbs, and intermittent green pavement markings.

The majority of the new lanes are parking-protected, meaning that cyclists ride between parked cars and the sidewalk. The parked cars act as a buffer, protecting cyclists from car traffic. At approaches to intersections and at bus stops, the protection drops and there is a merge zone marked with dashed green pavement. (Not dropping the protection would require relatively expensive bikeway signals, similar to Long Beach’s Broadway/Third couplet.)

Example of unprotected merge zone at bus stops on Artesia Blvd protected bike lanes

Example of unprotected merge zone at bus stops on Artesia Blvd protected bike lanes

This morning’s festivities were attended by a crowd of about 50, including city officials, city staff, locals, and bicyclists. Vice Mayor Rex Richardson and Mayor Robert Garcia were on hand to praise the new facility, cut the ribbon, and take an introductory spin.

Garcia and Richardson cut the ribbon on the Artesia protected bike lanes

Long Beach Mayor Garcia and Vice Mayor Richardson cut the ribbon on the Artesia protected bike lanes

Long Beach aspires to be the most bicycle-friendly city in the United States. In 2011, Long Beach installed the first protected bike lanes in Southern California. The Artesia lanes mark an important expansion of Long Beach’s bicycling facilities. Though the city has bike facilities in various parts of the city, for the most part, Long Beach has concentrated facilities (and bike-share) in denser neighborhoods along the coast, especially downtown. The Artesia lanes are in North Long Beach or Uptown, a relatively population-dense neighborhood about as far from the coast as one can get in Long Beach. They will serve students bicycling to the nearby Jordan High School.

Long Beach is planning to extend protected bike lanes for the entire length of Artesia Blvd, from the city limit with Compton to the city limit with Bellflower. This first stretch was accelerated in conjunction with a Long Beach Gas and Oil utility pipeline project that meant the street was already being resurfaced.

More photos of the Artesia lanes and their celebration after the jump.  Read more…

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Judge Backs City of Long Beach in Rail Yard Project Suit; Port of LA & BNSF Sent Back to Drawing Board

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When our former editor Brian Addison first joined the Streetsblog team (parent of Longbeachize), one of his first pieces he wrote openly criticized a rail yard project dubbed the Southern California International Gateway (SCIG) that was to be built in West Long Beach by rail giant BNSF.

Not only was the 153-acre project massively detrimental to the overall health of the Westside, it was at first widely endorsed. In fact, Long Beach’s main paper of record, the Press-Telegram, endorsed the project in what Addison called “a sadly misunderstood and ill-grounded editorial”—and in turn, he became one of many leaders of the anti-SCIG as well as the first journalist to bring to question the project. He wrote. And wrote. And wrote. And wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more.

“It is very hard for me intellectually to accept that you value the life of a kid on this side of the city border more than you do a kid in my city.” – Former Mayor Bob Foster

In what is nothing short of spectacularly large news, the City of Long Beach—which filed a lawsuit against the City of Los Angeles after the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) Harbor Commissioners and the LA City Council unanimously approved the project—has had Superior Court Judge Barry P. Goode rule in favor of the stance that SCIG “failed to perform adequate environmental analysis before approving the massive SCIG rail yard project adjacent to many residents and businesses located in West Long Beach.”

The ruling requires that POLA complete a new EIR to reduce the negative impacts from the project. BNSF persistently claimed, despite direct proof in their own EIR, that the SCIG project would actually benefit West Long Beach residents. As more and more evidence came to light through the work of 20-plus nonprofit and community groups, as well as Addison’s work that showed the contrary, outrage ensued.

Then-Mayor Bob Foster was outright vitriolic in his outspokenness against the project, with one of his quotes–“It is very hard for me intellectually to accept that you value the life of a kid on this side of the city border more than you do a kid in my city”–finding itself on every major newspaper in the country, even on the pages of the New York Times. Read more…

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Long Beach Beach Streets II Open Thread

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Beach Streets on Pine Avenue in downtown Long Beach. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

There were plenty of great firsts taking place last Saturday at Long Beach’s second iteration of its excellent Beach Streets open streets festival.

It was not Long Beach’s first ciclovía; that took place nearly a year ago, in June 2015.

It was the first time the city of Long Beach has held an open streets event in its downtown area – actually extending along Broadway from Downtown to Belmont Heights. The route showed off Long Beach’s new rainbow crosswalks.

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Long Beach’s fabulous new rainbow crosswalks celebrate the city’s rich LGBTQ cultures

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Long Beach Bike-Share To Launch 100 Bikes At Beach Streets On March 19

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia demonstrates Long Beach's new bike-share system. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia demonstrates Long Beach’s new bike-share system. All photos by Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

At a kick-off event this morning, the city of Long Beach celebrated a soft launch of its new bike-share system, called Long Beach Bike Share. There are currently two stations in operation, with a dozen bikes. The system will fully publicly open at the Saturday March 19 Beach Streets open streets event.

The 4-mile March 19 Beach Streets will be the first open streets event in downtown Long Beach, extending eastward through Belmont Heights. The route [PDF] is primarily along Broadway, with spurs on Pine Avenue and Cherry Avenue. Beach Streets is looking for volunteers.

Long Beach Bike Share currently has two hubs installed: one at City Hall, the other on Third Street at the Promenade.  Read more…

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Long Beach’s ‘Beach Streets’ Ciclovía Set to Invade DTLB on March 19

BeachStreets2016-940x520Well, the City of Long Beach will see its second ciclovía on Saturday, March 19—and yes, it will be in Downtown Long Beach for Beach Streets Downtown.

We had lamented that Downtown didn’t score a ciclovía last year when Long Beach’s first Beach Streets was held in Bixby Knolls/North Long Beach. Many, particularly our former editor Brian Addison, felt “the imagery of Downtown paired with its density, attractions, and biking/ped infrastructure, would have better served for the city’s first time in the ciclovía spotlight and led to more ciclovías from here on out with much more ease.”

While the route has yet to be released, we are hoping that this one isn’t ignored (with just two months away and no formal promotion, we’re beginning to fret).

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Long Beach’s First Ever Beach Streets Ciclovía – Open Thread

Beach Streets opens the streets in Long Beach.  Photos courtesy of Brian Addison

Beach Streets opens the streets in Long Beach. Photos courtesy of Brian Addison

How was your Beach Streets? Long Beach, the aspirational most bike-friendly city in America and demonstrably the most bike-friendly city in L.A. County, has joined the ranks of cities hosting open streets festivals or ciclovías. Long Beach’s first ever Beach Streets was full of camaraderie, chillness, and community.

For a photo essay, see our sister site LongBeachIze. Lots more photos at The Source. For a look at the Long Beach bike-share system demo, see SerenaGrace Tumblr.

How was it for you, SBLA readers? Are open streets festivals different in cities that embrace two-wheeled transportation? Was Long Beach’s ciclovía markedly different than open streets festivals produced by the non-profit CicLAvia? Has Metro’s countywide open streets initiative spread these events to new places and exposed new people to the awesomenesses that are ciclovías? Comment below!

Beach Streets in uptown Long Beach

Beach Streets in uptown Long Beach

 

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10 Beach Streets Tips for Those Experiencing Open Streets for the First Time Tomorrow

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I still remember the feeling in the air right before the 10/10/10 CicLAvia: a mix of anticipation, nervous energy and curiosity. Twelve CicLAvia’s later, including CicLAvia XIII in Pasadena last week, the event brings the same excitement and wonder it ever does. But, as an experienced Open Streets participant, humor me while I share some of my views on the best ways to enjoy Beach Streets. Long Beach’s very first Beach Streets takes place tomorrow – Saturday June 6 from .

1. First off, if you’ve never been to an Open Streets event, take a couple of minutes to check out this video to get pumped up. This video is nearly a decade old, but captures the energy of the Bogota ciclovia so well that it’s still used by advocates trying to convince their own city to embrace open streets.

Want to see more, check out some of our videos from the first CicLAvias in Los Angeles.

2. Pack for twice as long as you expect to be there. You’ll be surprised by how much there is to do and how addictive it is to just be out there. So pack your suntan lotion, pack your water, bring some snacks…

3.  …AND plan to spend some money. One of the easiest stories for a reporter looking to cast shade on an Open Streets is to find some businesses that “lost a day of revenue” because “people couldn’t get to the store.” Provide your own counter-narrative by visiting some local shops and eateries and spend some cash.

4. Figure out how you’re going to get to the event ahead of time. Long Beach Transit is providing free shuttle service (look for the buses with a “Charter” sign) and there will be a temporary bike lane on Wardlow Street from the Blue Line Station to the west of the event. Last but not least, LBCycology has planned a feeder bike ride. Santa Monica Spoke too.

5. But still bring a map. Ok, I know you’re going to say that the route is basically a straight line. But you never know how knowing where the street closures are is going to impact your trip to and from and through the event. Also, Open Streets is about meeting new people, and you also never know when having a map will help you make a new friend. Print a map, here.

6. Leave your racing shoes/wheels at home. There are few things that ruin an Open Streets event more than people who see the lack of cars and decide to act like entitled drivers anyway. Beach Streets is not about setting land-speed records. Relax. You’ll appreciate it. So will everyone around you. While you’re at it, leave the lycra at home too.

7. Bring a friend…especially if you’re planning to bike the event. Bring families, kids, husbands, domestic partners, nieces, etc. Your non-cyclist friends probably think that biking in the city is too hard, show them how easy it can beTell your non-biking friends that you’re only going to ride an hour or two (don’t talk distances, just times), with plenty of stops for snacks and lunch. Your friends may be surprised at how far they can go.

8. Don’t plan ahead. At least don’t plan too much. Be spontaneous. Yes, maybe plan to do something at a specific place and time, but also leave time to run into friends, make new friends, listen to music, etc. Be spontaneous. Be open to the unexpected – and you will see something or someone you didn’t expect. Don’t try to get from one end of the route to the other quickly, or you might be stressed and disappointed. If you really want to plan your day around a specific event or have a fun place for a meetup, Beach Streets’ website has guides to both events and entertainment.

9. Stop and take pictures. While the city is planning to hold these events again, there isn’t a set timeline. You never know how long it will be before you get a chance to fill up your Livable Streets Photo Album. You also never know when your favorite website for news and views on urban design and clean transportation options might hold a photo contest.

10. Be nice. I hope this is self-explanatory.

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Now It’s Long Beach Who Could Be 1st to Get Bike-Share

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It looks like Long Beach will be the first city in LA County to have a bike-share program as the City let go of its former contract with the defunct Bike Nation, handing it over to German company Nextbike. This follows the announcement earlier this year that the City would bid for a Downtown bike-share program.

According to the contract signed by the City of Long Beach last March, Nextbike will be responsible for installing “up to two hundred fifty (250) bike stations comprising three thousand seven hundred fifty (3,750) bike docks with two thousand five hundred (2,500) bicycles[.]”

Nextbike owns the world’s largest bike sharing network (20,000 bikes) with a presence in more than 30 German cities and in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Dubai, Hungary, Latvia, New Zealand, Poland, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

The contract specifies that both docking stations will be installed over four installation periods, with an initial implementation supposed to have occurred last month with a launch of 100 bikes.

The second installation, set to be deployed in November of this year, will include a proposed 70 smart docking stations with 700 bikes.

“The launch of this deployment may be contingent upon the success of the prior deployment at Nextbike’s discretion, Nextbike receiving additional public and/or private capital funding, and/or obtaining a major program sponsor,” the contract said.

The third installation increases to 80 stations with 800 bikes with a deadline of April of 2016; once again, implementation of this depends on the success of the previous deployment.

Come April 2017, Nextbike is scheduled to deploy an additional 90 stations with 900 bikes, bringing the grand total to 250 stations with 2,500 bikes.

Both physical docking stations and “virtual docking” stations are set to be installed. Virtual docking stations are areas which the GPS tool on the bike can be read within a certain vicinity and you can simply lock your bike to a Nextbike rack or on a regular rack.

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For Goodness’ Sake, Stop Widening the 405

Albert Einstein says that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

I have bad news for transportation planners at OCTA and Caltrans. You’ve gone insane. And the disease is spreading.

http://www.vtpi.org/tdm/tdm100.htm

It’s common knowledge that freeway widenings accomplish little besides encouraging sprawl and increasing driving, yet OCTA, Caltrans and Metro want to do it.

The Orange County Transportation Authority and Caltrans are banding together for another 1950’s style environmental disaster, widening the 405 between the 605 and the 73. The massive expansion project would add two lanes in each direction from Costa Mesa to Long Beach, an addition of over 80 miles of highway lanes. One of the lanes in each direction would be a toll lane.  The project’s total cost is only $1.7 billion.

And this isn’t just insanity, it is also schizophrenia. After all, Caltrans’ Strategic Management Plan calls for ending road widening projects even as the branch office wants to triple down on massive 405 expansions from Orange County through the Sepulveda Pass.

KPCC reports that the City of Long Beach, frustrated with the low amount of mitigation funds being offered for a massive freeway widening planned for the 405 that will dump thousands of new cars on local roads, is planning a lawsuit.

The bad news is the reason why:

Sanchez said Long Beach would like for Orange County to slow down the expansion project to give Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority time to come up with a similar expansion of the 405 on the L.A. side.

The MTA is reviewing a feasibility study that could add one or two lanes to a five-mile stretch of the 405 in Long Beach, between the I-605 interchange north to Cherry Avenue. But that project is in the early stages, MTA officials said.

Oh, for the love of… Read more…

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Long Beach Announces Open Streets Event

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Photo above from Los Angeles’s CicLAvia. Photo by Brian Addison.

It’s official: Long Beach will have its first ciclovía, dubbed Beach Streets, on June 6 thanks to $260K from Metro’s Open Streets Program handed to the City of Long Beach last year. (As noted by Streetsblog, Metro has become a major sponsor for open streets events, allocating millions in event funding for July 1, 2014 through June 30th, 2016.)

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 2.36.16 PMThough it was lamented that Downtown didn’t score a ciclovía—many felt the imagery of DTLB paired with its density, attractions, and biking/ped infrastructure, would have better served for the city’s first time in the ciclovía spotlight and led to more ciclovías from here on out with much more ease—Beach Streets will run up north and serve and feature a far more marginalized community.

Well, somewhat. The route is solely along Atlantic from Houghton Park at Harding in the north to Wardlow toward the south. This means it is strangely connected only to the Wardlow Station, effectively disconnecting the Del Amo and Artesia Stations. Understandably, three road closures simply for Blue Line access would be both expensive and taxing, but that is not what I am suggesting. Del Amo lies smack in the middle of the route and the semi-closure of Wardlow only reads as politicking the ciclovía under the guard of safety and affluence (given the majority of the route runs through the entirety of Bixby Knolls).

The proposal for the North Long Beach Beach Streets was the highest scoring bid out of 21 high scoring proposals when it proposed last year, with twelve events scoring funding. What is even more awesome is that Long Beach ranked high for three proposed events at the time, including the aforementioned Downtown Beach Streets (#4 on the list).

As for programming, Mobility and Health Coordinator Nate Baird explained that applicants seeking money to do certain things along the route will be available soon. Those applications will then be reviewed by a panel of people chosen by each council district member and funds will be dispersed to those applicants. While the information remains vague, it seems that come June 6, a ciclovía will be indeed happening—and that is something to cheer about.

Let’s just all band in on this together, yeah?