Long Beach Innovates!

FHWA bikes may use full lane sign Getting in the saddle is only one part of the enjoyable cycling experience. An enjoyable and safe cycling experience begins with good planning: the lanes and provisions that ideally would keep motorists and cyclists separate. Indeed, traveling safely, finding a welcoming destination with secure parking, and resting easy that your city has your back when you’re on the mean streets are equally important. Nothing eases the mind of the cyclist like proper facilities. Here we look at some good examples of signage, markings, racks, and bike stations from around Long Beach.Bike Lanes and Routes

Long Beach bike route sign
Consistent signage is the hallmark of a well-thought out bike system.

Bike lanes and conspicuous and consistent pavement markings are probably the best improvements that local governments can make to road safety for cyclists.

City of Long Beach is implementing its own numbered system of recommended cycling routes. Some of the Long Beach bikeways take cyclists on separated, dedicated facilities, while others track existing streets. Either way, the key to a comprehensive system is signage and visibility. And Long Beach bike route signs (left) are a great addition and an essential part of the transportation planner’s toolkit.

Long-Beach's protected bikeway
The protected bikeway assures cyclists of all ages of safe passage while reminding all road users that the street is not merely the domain of the motorist.

Where the city has gone one step farther is that it has created inviting bikeways distinguished by separation from car streets by way of an island that separates the bike lane from the motorists. Why don’t we see this elsewhere? Here the example stretches between Alamitos and Golden Avenue,

Bike Parking – Big Bang for the Buck

Improvements need not be big-ticket lanes and such. Bike racks, for example, broadcast that the city is open to cyclists. So why don’t we see more of them? Often the problem is that you just can’t see them at all.  Sometimes a few hundred bucks can make a splash.(Witness our city’s modern racks – they practically disappear unless there’s a bike latched t them.)

Long Beach art bike rack example.
They may not be for everyone, but art bike racks make accommodating cyclists fun - and make cycling conspicuous.

Long Beach has installed a variety of custom racks, and you can’t miss ’em: they’re vibrant and distinctive and they’re probably less than a grand each – installed. That’s bang for buck! And with a little creative thinking you can tuck them into the percent-for-art budget. Wouldn’t you rather look at some nice bike racks than B-grade corporate amenity arty anyway?

Long Beach has taken the simple rack a step further by installing its first bike corral (below right) last August. Always the key is visibility, and the city put their first corral where cyclists are likely to see it when they arrive for a drink with buck in hand to spend at a local business. This corral provides secure bike parking for 14 bikes in the space of one parking spot. It’s good for the residents, it’s good for businesses, and it’s good for the environment. Wouldn’t it be good for Beverly Hills?

Long Beach's first bike rack corral
Long Beach's first bike rack 'corral' attracts attention - and riders with a buck to spend.

The bike corral is a great idea that’s perfectly suited to Beverly Hills. Instead of awkward street furniture or trash cans as is so often the case in our Golden Triangle business district, why not put that space to use by creating an inviting space for bikes? Long Beach did it. Santa Monica did it. Los Angeles is doing it.

Long Beach even advertises this modest investment with a flyer that reads:

“Looking for a good restaurant, bike shop, or pub? Afraid you won’t be able to find a place to park your car? Now you can take your bike and find that secure place to park it.”

Long Beach green bike lane
Long Beach rolls out the green lane for cyclists!

That’s the spirit! Long Beach has also experimented. It applied for, and won, exemptions from the powers that be in D.C. and Sacramento to experiment with distinguishing features such as a ‘green lane’ bike lane (at left). It sure is visible. Will it prove to be more safe than the regular striped lane? Without this pilot test we wouldn’t know.

Kudos to Long Beach for taking the chance on it. Let’s hope that Beverly Hills decides it’s worth experimenting to give cyclists here a margin of safety on our streets in a chaotic environment where we really need it.