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.