This article originally appeared on Streetsblog LA.
Last Saturday, Long Beach celebrated the grand opening of its newest bicycle-pedestrian path. The recently completed Mark Bixby path, along the city’s International Gateway Bridge, offers expansive views of the Port of Long Beach, the Pacific Ocean, and the city coastline.
The Mark Bixby Memorial Bicycle-Pedestrian Path is a two-mile long path attached to the south side of the Long Beach International Gateway Bridge, which is part of the 710 Freeway. The new bridge opened to car/truck traffic in 2020. The bridge connects the eastern portion of the Port of Long Beach, across the Back Channel, to Terminal Island.
Photo by Joe Linton.
The east end of the Bixby path is at Pico Avenue and Pier E Street. From there cyclists can continue one long block north along Pico on a short (about 700 feet) two-way curb-protected bikeway, though mainly cyclists would continue east into downtown on the Connector, described below.
The west end of the Bixby path is the intersection of the 710 Freeway and State Route 47, essentially the south end of the Schuyler Heim Bridge. The facility currently dead-ends there in the heavily industrial area, with no connection to Wilmington or San Pedro (more on those future connections below). Due to the lack of a current westward bike/ped connection, the westernmost stretch of the path is being kept closed for now. The public can access the bridge path between Pico and the three overlooks in the middle of the bridge.
The path is named after Mark Bixby, the Long Beach bicyclist who led the successful advocacy campaign to get the path included in the Gerald Desmond Bridge replacement project. Bixby was killed in a plane crash in 2011.
Courtesy of Port of Long Beach.
Just east of the Bixby path is the Ocean Boulevard Connector, which connects from the Port, across the Los Angeles River, into downtown Long Beach. Most of the half-mile long connector is primarily a protected two-way bikeway along the south side of Ocean Boulevard (see above). The connector also includes a curved stretch of elevated path (see below) that takes it over the Pico on- and off-ramps.
On the east end of the Ocean Boulevard Connector, cyclists can take a short stretch of two-way protected bikeway along Golden Shore to access the L.A. River path (shown on map above). Cyclists can also access Long Beach’s extensive downtown harbor/shoreline/beach bike paths network by continuing south on Golden Shore, or go north a block to proceed into downtown via the protected bike lane couplet on Broadway and 3rd Street.
The newly opened paths are projects of the Port of Long Beach and the city of Long Beach, with funding from the Federal Highway Administration, the California Transportation Commission’s Active Transportation Program (ATP), Caltrans, and Metro.
A crowd of over 300 people, including more than 200 cyclists, showed up at the downtown Port Administration Building to hear elected officials and other leaders celebrate the grand opening of the new path.
Many speakers at Saturday’s opening ceremony acknowledged that the path would not have happened, in the words of the Port Executive Director Mario Cordero, without the “vociferous, aggressive” advocacy of Mark Bixby. Though the port ultimately built and celebrates its new path, it long resisted including the bikeway, and finally came around to supporting Bixby’s proposal after the California Coastal Commission mandated its inclusion in order to permit the new bridge.
Harbor Commission President Sharon Weissman praised the path’s overlooks as spectacular, calling them “the best views in the city.”
The Bixby Memorial Bicycle-Pedestrian Path along the Long Beach International Gateway Bridge, facing east toward DTLB. Photo by Joe Linton.
Port leaders and city and federal elected officials praised Bixby, and presented proclamation certificates to his mother and widow. Bixby’s brothers recounted his “love affair with cycling” from cross-country bike touring, to bike club racing, to advocating for Long Beach to become the bike-friendly city it is.
After the speakers concluded, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on the elevated portion of the Ocean Boulevard Connector, overlooking the harbor. Cyclists rode the three-quarters of a mile to the site, while others arrived by golf cart.
West of the central outlooks, the bridge bikeway slopes downward onto Terminal Island. This part of the path was accessible for the bridge opening, but will be closed to the general public for the foreseeable future. Photo by Joe Linton.